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James Prentice & Son

Various bits of information collected regarding the James Prentice & Son. If you have additional information to share, please let us know!

"James Prentice was born in London, England in 1812. He served a seven year apprenticeship with John Beal of London. He came to the United States in 1842 and died in New York in 1888.

From 1846-1883 he is listed in the New York City directory as Prentice, James, math insts. From 1883-1897 listed as James Prentice & Son, opticians; James Prentice and his son Charles F. Prentice. From 1897-1924 listed as James Prentice & Son Company with Charles F. Prentice as President.

Charles F. Prentice was born in New York City in 1854 and died in 1946. He became the first president of the Optical Society of New York State in 1896."

Reference: Smart, Charles E. The Makers Of Surveying Instruments In America Since 1700 Troy, New York: Regal Art Press. 1962

Found at: Virtual Museum of Surveying

The James Prentice & Son company was formed in 1883 and incorporated in 1897; company was dissolved in 1924.


1847 - James Prentice, English optician, arrives in U.S. His son Charles F. Prentice, will become the "father of American optometry."

Found at: "History of Optometry" (bad URL "http://fs.aoa.org/optometry-archives/optometry-timeline.html")

Charles Prentice

Charles Prentice's father, James, studied optometry in London as an apprentice and moved to New York in 1847 to open his own optical shop. He became renowned for his manufacturing of optical instruments and creating the anatomical eye glass. As there were no adequate schools in the United States, James Prentice sent Charles to Europe to be educated in physics, engineering, mathematics and optometry.

Charles Prentice surpassed his father with acclaim and recognition throughout the world. He wrote what is now a classic essay entitled Ophthalmic Lenses. This book, however, was just the beginning of his writings and scientific discoveries. In 1910, Prentice assisted Columbia University in beginning a two-year optometry course. Now American students would not have to travel to Europe, as he had, to study optometry.

Charles Prentice helped standardize the optical field for the sake of patients’ care, as well as, revamping the way the general public viewed eyeglasses. Prentice was the first optometrist to charge patients for his services. This act lead to the recognition of optometry as a profession and numerous government laws guiding and shaping the field. Prentice was one of the founding members and president of the Optical Society of the State of New York.

Found at: "World Optic" (bad URL "http://www.worldoptic.com/pioneers/prentice.html")

In the Prentice Museum: 1875 invoice


164 Broadway, New York, NY - (1875 invoice)

176 Broadway, New York, NY - (1884 catalog)

Misc Info

Possible info for James Prentice on findagrave.com:

Birth: 1813
Death: Aug. 25, 1888
Clifton Springs
Ontario County
New York, USA

Woodlawn Cemetery
Bronx County
New York, USA

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