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Trade card for John Yarwell, optician, London, England, 1697

John Yarwell was an English optician working in London from 1671 to 1708. This trade card advertises spectacle frames made from horn, steel, silver, tortoiseshell and leather. Yarwell’s clients were wealthy and could afford these luxury materials. Like most other opticians of the time, Yarwell also made telescopes, microscopes and thermometers. It was not unusual for opticians to make instruments such as these, which required highly ground lenses, as this was a skill that spectacle makers had acquired and developed in the course of their day to day work.

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Glossary: spectacles

Pair of eyeglasses to compensate for defective vision or to protect the eyes from light, dust, and the like. Kept in place by sidepieces passing over the ears, on the nose or held in the hand.

Glossary: trade card

Printed sheets, and later cards, bearing tradesmen's advertisements, often including an engraved illustration; produced from the 17th through the 19th century. Cards made later often included the name and address of a business concern and the name of its representative, and intended more for information than for advertising, use "business cards." For cards made later and distributed for advertisement, use "advertising cards," and for those made later and issued primarily to be collected, with or without advertisements on them, use "collecting cards."

Glossary: optician

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