The Beautiful History of Antique Mirrors

The Beautiful History of Antique Mirrors

The first luxury antique mirrors in humankind were produced in Murano and they were silvered in Venice. This happened in the 16th century, and mirrors became an available item only in the 17th century in England for example. Back in the day, mirrors were actually called “looking glasses”. Only by the late 18h century was it possible to manufacture better quality glass plates for the creation of the mirrors. Once this became possible, the market saw an influx of all sorts and styles of mirrors, from smaller to larger ones and they even started creating decorative mirror plates for furniture.

By the 19th century, the entire business of the luxury antique mirrors started to truly flourish. At first there were the intricately carved wooden mirrors of the Chippendale era and then things shifted to amazingly and precisely polished frames for these mirrors (such as the Victorian period mirrors or the Cheval mirrors).

Glass that was coming from abroad was extremely expensive and incurred hefty taxes. Since this was an expensive venture, the British started actually “recycling” the older mirrors. Necessity also led experts in the field to create large frames that included several pieces of mirror glass that was recycled. This is how the first large mirrors appeared. Smaller sized, convex mirrors became quite fashionable at the beginning of the 19th century. These convex mirrors were designed as décor items for the dining area. The main aim of these mirrors was to allow butlers be able to oversee the guests at the table, without actually interfering and disturbing them. Convex mirrors were at the beginning simple but then they were carved using more intricate details- such as the Eagle convex mirror that features the image of an imposing carved eagle at the top of the mirror.

Larger mirrors were quite expensive back in the day, but small mirrors were more available and affordable. Many people bought wall mounted mirrors to decorate their homes. Free standing dressing mirrors were already available at the end of the 17th century, but these “toilet mirrors” were mostly available to the wealthy of the era.

 Jennie Martin, CEO


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