Because early spectacles were valuable and needed protection when not in use, the eyeglass case was born. Originally crude and handmade, as time went on they were made more decorative. Their appearance often reflected the owner’s education and social status.
Eyewear cases were made of wood, horn, tortoiseshell, leather, steel, silver, and other metals, shagreen (sharkskin), silk, ivory, plastic, and papier mache. Some were open-ended, most completely enclosed the eyeglasses, and some (chatelaines) hung on a chain from one’s belt, fashionably at hand. Functional and decorative, they appeared in a variety of shapes.