American Optical Company
The American Optical Company, now known as AO Eyewear, was founded in 1869 as a merger of spectacle makers in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Spectacle-making had been established in the town in 1826 when William Beecher had set up a jewelry business there with an apprentice, Robert H. Cole. Cole subsequently bought the business and became the largest shareholder and first president of the American Optical Company. When he retired in 1891 and Beecher died in 1892, the volume of production in the town was about two million frames and a million pairs of lenses per year.
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