Oh Say Can You See?

Happy President’s Day! To celebrate we’re taking a look at the role of presidential eyewear in history. Here are several memorable morsels about presidents and their eyewear of choice.

Tip: With so many past presidents having worn readers, it might be fun to show off some similar styles at your office.

37.5cents is what Abraham Lincoln paid for his first pair of glasses.


GEORGE WASHINGTON wore heavy, elaborately engraved silver spectacles with hinged temples that had open loops at the tips. They’re on display at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.


LINCOLN bought his first pair of glasses in 1856 for 37.5 cents from a Bloomington, IL jeweler, while on his way to catch a train.


JEFFERSON actually worked with Philadelphia optician John McAllister in the design of his glasses.


TRUMAN never wore sunglasses, saying none existed to manage his strong prescription. That’s why he was often seen outdoors in broad-rimmed hats. He was, however, the only president ever to have worn glasses full-time.


JFK wore readers for awhile and then moved on to executive bifocals. Outdoors, he usually sported tortoise-shell sunnies.


NIXON refused to wear glasses in public. In fact, his Presidential Library reports the only photo they have of him in glasses was taken when he bid his staff goodbye.


LBJ was the first president to wear contact lenses in office (1964). He wore both glass bifocals and contacts. In fact 50 pairs of his glasses are on view at the LBJ Library in Austin, TX.


REAGAN started wearing contacts in his Hollywood days. He said they were “like a pair of football helmets.”


BILL CLINTON may have sported Wayfarers while playing the sax on the Arsenio Hall show, but in the office he chose readers over prescription eyewear.


DONALD TRUMP, who famously watched the eclipse sans viewing glasses, is also rarely caught on-camera wearing his readers.


With so many past presidents having worn readers, it might be fun to show off some of the styles at your office. And, do you sell readers in addition to prescription eyewear? If so, share your experiences with us on Facebook here.

Erinn Morgan