Optical Treasures: Wildly Imaginative Claims

Finally, and in more general terms, there are a few noteworthy mistaken statements that have been passed down for a few generations. These “wildly imaginative” claims can now be mentioned and then commented upon.

Title Description Photo Comments
“Marco Polo brought spectacles to the Far East”



Numerous publications


Marco Polo did not introduce eyeglasses to the Far East There has apparently never been any proof to support this statement. His book Il Milione does not even mention anything. Instead traders most likely brought vision aids in from the West, perhaps through the coastal city of Mallaca, known as the Venice of the East.


“Salvino Armati of Florence was the secretive inventor of eyeglasses” spoken of in the references to Allesandro della Spina. This was based on the excessive zeal of Florentine historian Domenico Manni who related that a Florentine antiquary had seen a tomb-stone inscription in the now demolished church of St. Maria Maggiore at Florence. Tombstone of Armati
Salvino Degl' Armati print
It is now generally accepted that this claim, probably to boost the prestige of the Armati family, was made hundreds of years after Salvino Armati had died, if he ever even existed, and the plaque has been removed from the outside wall and hidden away low down in a corner of one of the side chapels.
Where is primary source evidence of this particular statement that Armati was performing some sort of light experiments?
"The first eyeglasses to aid or correct vision were almost certainly invented in 1280 in Florence, Italy by the Dominican friar Alessandro della Spina and / or his friend, the physicist Salvino degli Armati. Prescribed for far-sightedness, the glasses had convex lenses and were worn by Armati, who had injured his eyes while performing light refraction experiments and discovered that it was possible to enlarge the appearance of objects by looking through two pieces of convex glass." Another website Sculpture supposedly of Armati
Salvino D'argento" (Salvino of silver) Award given to Italian Opticians after 35 years of service by the Optics Italian Association (Federottica, born 1952),"
No one knows for certain but all the evidence seems to point to the inventor of eyeglasses as an unknown artisan from Pisa, Italy circa 1286-87. Professor Edward Rosen’s articles from 1956 are definitive on this topic. (See References for Study)
Francesco Redi, Italian Professor of Medicine, Scientist, Doctor, and Poet at the court of the Medici, possessed a Florentine manuscript (book) from 1299 which he quoted in a 1676 letter. Spectacles are supposedly mentioned in the preface of this book as something discovered at that time.   The 1299 manuscript is noted in this 1678 letter, Bernard Becker Medical Library Again Professor Edward Rosen, in his 1956 articles, proves all this to be totally false and just an invention of Redi.
“Did Jesus Christ Really Wear Eyeglasses” Noted on another website: http://einhornpress.com/eyeglasses.aspx! Nicola Pisano's "Adoration of the Magi," is a 13th century marble relief in the pulpit of the baptistery at Pisa, Italy. Apparently it was photographed by Alinari and the image was then included in the 1937 (7th edition) of Wonders of Italy, The Monuments of Antiquity, the Churches, the Palaces, the Treasures of Art, a Handbook for Students and Travellers. Another photo just like it, by Giraudon, also appears to show the baby Jesus wearing eyeglasses, in the 1964 edition of the Larousse Encyclopedia of Renaissance and Baroque Art. Adoration of the Magi," is a 13th century marble relief in the pulpit of the baptistery at Pisa, Italy
Altered image
Noted authorities all agree that eyeglasses originated in Italy near end of the 13th century. We believe that they first were “invented” by an unknown artisan from Pisa about 1286-87 and these were Rivet Spectacles. To now believe that Jesus wore them almost 1300 years earlier, before he died at the age of 33, and his pair even had sidearms (thought to have originated related to the work of Edward Scarlett, in England about 1714-1727), is simply preposterous. All of this is nonsense and buffoonery.

Home ] Introduction & News ] History & References ] Identification & Preservation ] Public Collections & Virtual Museum ] Interesting Topics ] Education & Games ] Links ] About Us ]