The History of Artcraft

ArtCraft Optical Co., Inc., was formed in 1918 by Charles J. Eagle and Otto W. Dechau. Since its earliest years, the company has had a few headquarters, including the historic Pullman Building in downtown Rochester, NY. The building was home to the company for decades. In 2001, ArtCraft left the Pullman Building for a modern one-story facility. “I miss the old place. I practically grew up there,” said C. Thomas Eagle, son of Charles J. Eagle and the current owner/CEO of ArtCraft. “A lot has changed since I joined the company in the late ‘50s,” said Eagle. “Our current home is a great reminder of the necessity for change.”

Through the years, ArtCraft’s products have consistently reflected the demands of the market and the trends of fashion, thanks to its employees. The people who work at ArtCraft today, and the thousands of people who have worked at ArtCraft in the past, are responsible for maintaining the caliber of product sold by the company. Starting in 1918 and continuing to this day, ArtCraft’s employees have produced frames of the highest quality, rivaling or outmatching those made anywhere else in the world. We take special pride in the frames we make and we hope that everyone who wears one takes special pride in knowing that it was made here, in the U.S.

During the early years, spectacles were often produced in solid gold. Alternatively, they were sold with gold-filled materials. Intricate, distinctive patterns were coined and hand engraved to bridges, end pieces, and temples. As the years passed, gold was still the metal of choice for frames. Other metals, however, were offered as cost-effective alternatives. As a case in point: aluminum was “the” material for eyewear during the latter sixties and early seventies. It was used for fronts, temples, tops, and overlay material for plastics.

Like nearly all the metals used for frames, aluminum could be coined with dimensional patterns, finished with a polished gloss and/or a satin matte, anodized in appealing fashionable colors (including combinations of colors), and embellished with hand engraving and/or crystal or colored baguettes. Over the years, other metals, used in similar fashion, have included (and still include) nickel, nickel-silver, stainless steel, and titanium. For many of the metal frames offered at ArtCraft over the years, cable temples have been offered in every imaginable size. The cable for the temples was wound at ArtCraft and the finished temples boasted world-recognized excellence with their craftsmanship.

Plastic frames became more popular during the mid to late thirties, in part because World War II pushed the use of plastics by creating a dearth of other materials. It was not long before fabrication and finishing procedures developed. Early colors in plastic frames were basic, including few more than black or tortoise. As they became available, however, other colors and patterns were added. The frames became highly decorated, and often included dimensional metal trims. Austrian baguettes and rhinestones were used “to dress a frame with luxury.”

Combination frames made their debut during the late forties and ArtCraft’s experience in the manufacture of metals and plastics put the company in a position to supply beautiful blends of the materials suddenly in complementary demand. The resulting products made ArtCraft a major international supplier of combination frames. The most successful of the different groups of combination frames were the “Art-Rim” frames, including the Leading Lady Art-Rim for women and the Clubman Art-Rim for men. Originally, all of the Art-Rim styles featured plastic tops and temples attached to a full metal chassis. Later, though, aluminum tops and temples became available, providing an alternative to the familiar plastics.

In 1993, ArtCraft entered the safety eyewear market with the introduction of its USA Workforce collection. The line included plastic and metal frames for men and women with tasteful styling, fashionable colors, spring hinges, quality materials, and proven sizes. Protective side shields were also introduced with the safety frames to provide greater protection for workers who needed it. The best manufacturing technology and materials were coupled with skilled American craftsmanship to produce the ultimate in safety frames. Wearers knew that the product was fashionable and that it would perform when needed. Since its introduction, the collection has naturally expanded to offer additional models and additional lines of different value levels.

To this day, ArtCraft is proud to say that USA Workforce sets the standard in prescription safety eyewear.