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William Blake's spectacles: M.9 & A-1948

Object information

Current Location: In storage


William Blake's spectacles


Maker: Unknown




Steel frame with circular glass lenses

Steel frame with glass lenses. Circular lenses with arched bridge between, and sloping lugs at the side. The right lense is 3.25 DS (dioptre sphere) and the left lense 3.50 DS. The two hinged arms taper to terminate in circular face grips. With a pressed cardboard case (A) varnished dark brown on the outside, painted light green on the bezel and mid blue in the interior.


History note: William Blake; given by Mrs Blake to Samuel Palmer, father of A.H. Palmer. Acquired by Lt Col. W.E. Moss; sold at Sotheby's 2 March 1937, lot 283 with a letter of authentication from A.H. Palmer

Legal notes

Given by Lord Rothschild

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1948-06-03) by Rothschild, Lord


18th Century, Late-19th Century, Early#
After 1780 - Before 1827-08-12


The DS (dioptre sphere) of the lenses indicates that the wearer could see well at near range but would require the spectacles for other purposes.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Surface Of Case composed of varnish
Interior Of Case composed of paint
Case composed of cardboard Height 1.7 cm Length 12.8 cm Width 4.5 cm
Frame composed of steel
Lense composed of glass

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: small rectangular sheet of headed notepaper

  • Text: CARN TOWAN, SENNEN, S.O./CORNWALL./'These spectacles were once the property of William Blake; & were much valued by his friend and disciple Samuel Palmer./A.H. Palmer/March 1908
  • Location: In the object's file in Keeper's office
  • Method of creation: Address printed in black, inscription in blue-black ink
  • Type: Note

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.9 & A-1948
Primary reference Number: 150724
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 17 January 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "William Blake's spectacles" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-17 20:03:19

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{{cite web|url= |title=William Blake's spectacles |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-17 20:03:19|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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