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Not currently on display at the V&A

Car Headlights

Sunglasses
1971 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Philip Oliver Goldsmith, a salesman for a small optical firm, founded his eyewear company in London in 1926. In 1935 his son Charles Goldsmith entered the firm with the aim of transforming glasses from a medical necessity to a fashion item. From the company’s offices in Poland Street, his sons A. Oliver and Ray Goldsmith built upon the company’s reputation for attention-grabbing designs and solicited celebrity endorsement for their products. Key clients included Lord Snowdon, the actor Diana Dors, Princess Grace of Monaco and Diana, Princess of Wales.

For this frame design, titled 'Car headlights', Oliver Goldsmith took inspiration from the hooded headlights of the Ford Zodiac. He created the frame as part of a collaboration with Hilsinger, the American aluminium company. Based outside Boston, Hilsinger specialised in the manufacture of the aluminium components used by the optical industry. With the aim of expanding their product offering they commissioned Oliver Goldsmith to design a collection of aluminium frames suitable for mass-production. Aluminium's lightweight quality had obvious appeal. However, aluminium is inflexible and cannot be soldered. These difficulties prevented the frames from being put into production. Of the roughly fifty prototypes created, 'Car Headlights' is the only prototype to survive from this collaboration.

Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleCar Headlights (manufacturer's title)
Materials and techniques
Aluminium
Brief description
Aluminium hooded sunglasses 'Car Headlights', made by Oliver Goldsmith Eyewear, Great Britain, 1971
Physical description
Gold coloured aluminium hooded sunglasses of vertical oval eye shape and with straight sides.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12cm
  • Width: 6.5cm
Production typePrototype
Credit line
Given by A. Oliver Goldsmith, in memory of his father, Charles Oliver Goldsmith
Object history
Registered File number 1990/200.
These glasses form part of a design archive of the British eyewear company Oliver Goldsmith. The archive, which consists of approximately 70 glasses frames from the 1930s to the late 1980s, was donated by A. Oliver Goldsmith, grandson of the founder, and former chief designer at the firm. A. Oliver Goldsmith donated the material to the V & A in memory of his father Charles Goldsmith.
Production
Attribution note: Oliver Goldsmith was commissioned by the American aluminium company Hilsigner Corporation to help them expand their product offerings. Goldsmith desiged these sunglasses from aluminium. The designs were not put into production. This frame is the only prototype to survive from this collaboration.
Summary
Philip Oliver Goldsmith, a salesman for a small optical firm, founded his eyewear company in London in 1926. In 1935 his son Charles Goldsmith entered the firm with the aim of transforming glasses from a medical necessity to a fashion item. From the company’s offices in Poland Street, his sons A. Oliver and Ray Goldsmith built upon the company’s reputation for attention-grabbing designs and solicited celebrity endorsement for their products. Key clients included Lord Snowdon, the actor Diana Dors, Princess Grace of Monaco and Diana, Princess of Wales.

For this frame design, titled 'Car headlights', Oliver Goldsmith took inspiration from the hooded headlights of the Ford Zodiac. He created the frame as part of a collaboration with Hilsinger, the American aluminium company. Based outside Boston, Hilsinger specialised in the manufacture of the aluminium components used by the optical industry. With the aim of expanding their product offering they commissioned Oliver Goldsmith to design a collection of aluminium frames suitable for mass-production. Aluminium's lightweight quality had obvious appeal. However, aluminium is inflexible and cannot be soldered. These difficulties prevented the frames from being put into production. Of the roughly fifty prototypes created, 'Car Headlights' is the only prototype to survive from this collaboration.
Collection
Accession number
T.244-1990

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Record createdJune 24, 2009
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