Beecher was convinced he could improve on the European frames and so American Optical began. By the early 1900s, American Optical had grown to over two hundred employees and the company was exporting so many frames, they had opened an office in London.
During WWI, American Optical supplied US troops and allied forces with lenses and frames via eight mobile units they had created for distribution. The ‘Liberty” and “Victory” style white metal frames were fitted and filled with prescriptions for the troops. Over two and a half million glasses were supplied.
During WWII, AO again worked closely with the government to supply goggles, glasses and even precision optics used for instruments. Between 1943 and 1944, a total of 10 million goggles frames, 5 million pairs of sunglasses and over 6.5 million pairs of lenses were ground and polished including 1.4 million prescriptions delivered to the Armed Forces.
American Optical also introduced prescription-polarized sunglasses in the 1940s, allowing for greatly improved vision when on water or snow. Over the years AO introduced sunglasses in many styles and materials, but the classic aviator designs developed in the 30s and 40s have never gone out of fashion. The timeless, purpose-built design remains eternally cool. All American Optical glasses are still manufactured in Southbridge, Massachusetts.
For the Craft & Tailored shop, we’ve selected two of AO’s oldest styles. The “Original Pilot” and the “General.” Developed in 1958 as the “Flight Goggle 58,” the Original Pilot sunglasses were produced to meet the US Military’s need to provide pilots with maximum protection, performance and comfort. They were also the first glasses to be worn on the moon, as they were issued to Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969. The General is another classic aviator style with rounded lenses built to the same military specifications. At Craft & Tailored we are offering both styles in silver and gold frames with a choice of green or brown mineral glass lenses.
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