Friday, 10 January 2014

Restoring Aunt Maude's Opera Glasses

Some years ago, I was given a pair of opera glasses that had been passed down in my family. They were dirty and didn't really seem to work, and the leather covering was only left on one side.

Thanks to my involvement in Wattle Flat Crafts, I met a leatherworker, Dan. She spurned my offer to employ her to restore the opera glasses, insisting I could do it myself, and offered to help me.

After a full day of both of us polishing grime, with more hours to come, I understood why.

We took it apart as much as possible, cut off the remaining leather, sanded and polished away tarnish and muck, wiped the dust of ages from the lenses, inside and out. Dan even polished the tiny screw until it gleamed.

In the end, because the brass underneath has more shine to it than expected, I'm happily able to avoid the use of leather.

The glasses, I now know, belonged to my grandmother's great aunt Maude. She was involved with an Italian opera singer, who used to go about in a cape and carrying a cane. He sang with an opera company here in Australia, in a time when they travelled around in carriages, sets and all. He and Maude weren't married because he had a wife back in Italy.

They are far from perfect, but they always will be. They have been through a long life, and been dropped a few times based on the dents!

They move more smoothly now, and you can actually see through them. They still only make things appear about half a metre closer though.

It's nice to see them shine again. I'm lucky (in some ways) to come from a family that never throw anything away!

Do you have a family like that? What exciting treasures are you lucky enough to still have around?


  1. Oh how every vintage and antique loving fiber of my being wishes that I did. Alas, most members of my family are the polar opposite (at least when it came to pre-60s items) and as a result, exceedingly few old items (in any condition) exist amongst my relatives. It's awesome that you have a family who did save things and that you were able to breath new life into these gorgeous vintage opera glasses.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. It is awesome :) There are plenty more things that I wish we still had (like my great-grandmother's hat pin collection!), but I am lucky that there are so many. At dinner last night with my grandmother we looked at some negatives of family photos from the 30s, including her as a baby. So that will be another fun adventure!


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