Learn about Mirrors

Small handheld or wall mirrors were not made in England until the beginning of the 17th century. Until then, most were imported from Venice. The celebrated Vauxhall glasshouses were opened in the 1660s.

At first, hand blown techniques were used, but the glass showed a great many imperfections, particularly when used for mirror making. Glass casting, where the molten glass was poured on to a bed of hot metal and rolled, was introduced in France in the later 17th century, but it was not until 1773 that the British Plate Glass Company was incorporated. From then on this glass tended to supplant the French imports.

Initially the mirrored pieces were relatively small and a large carved frame frequently had to incorporate glazing bars to accommodate several pieces of glass. After the mid-18th century improved techniques meant that large plates could be produced, and one supplied by Chippendale measured 231cm by 146cm.

Bevelling techniques, in which the edge of the plate glass was ground to a forty-five degree angle and polished, were not used on a wide scale until after 1750. more...
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A pair of girandole gilt wood mirrors, French, 19th century, embellished with masks, shells and flower pods, with original plates, 78 cm high

A Victorian gilt over mantle mirror, 19th century. an arched mirror in a timber and gesso frame with gadroon and beaded detailing having a shield style crest with flora and shells, and with the original glass. Height 170 cm. Width 114 cm

Shell wall mirror, rectangular frame decorated with assorted white shells, height 75 cm width 60 cm

Paul Bruce shell mirror of rectangular shape, with applied painted shells. Height 100 cm. Width 82 cm

A Georgian style mahogany wall mirror, early 19th century, with bevelled glass mirror framed inside boxwood inlay stringing, and veneered continuous leafy border. The top and bottom mirror decorated with inlay work depicting sea shells. Height 101 cm; widt

Large shell framed wall mirror decorated with conch shells, starfish and coral. Width 112 cm. Height 136 cm