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...Thereafter, most mirrors were bevelled until recently when the cost involved made it largely uneconomic.
From the early 19th century large numbers of round wall mirrors have been made with convex glass, the frames generally gilded and surmounted with an eagle or other trophy. While such pieces originally date from the Classical Revival period they have been made until modern times.
Though mirror backs are referred to as being 'silvered', silver was not used until the mid-19th century. Before that, an amalgam of tinfoil and mercury was used. In 1840 the process was invented whereby a thin coat of silver was applied to the glass by chemical means. Up until about 15 years ago, it was possible to have mirrors re-silvered, but this is now illegal, as it has been realised that the mercury and tin backing found on antique mirrors can damage heart, kidneys, lungs, brain and immune system.
Nowadays if a mirror is in poor condition it is replaced rather than resilvered. This is accepted practice for Victorian and later pieces, but for Georgian and earlier mirrors, the value is substantially depreciated if the mirror has been replaced or re-silvered. The consensus is that it is far better to learn to live with a mirror even if the reflection is somewhat worn and rubbed, than remove the main evidence that the piece is an antique.
An overmantle mirror is large framed, carved and often gilt plate-glass mirror attached to the wall above a mantelpiece. In Australia the term more usually describes a wooden frame containing several small mirrors and shelves supported by spindles that, during the later Victorian period and certainly by the Edwardian age, had largely replaced the single mirror above fireplaces. It was an age that liked indeed needed many small shelves to display the countless household knick-knacks.
18 item(s) found:
These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.
A petite late 18th century Venetian mirror, painted in the Chinoiserie style in parcel gilt and vermillion. The rococo shield shaped carved frame surmounted by floral and cloud form pediments. 66.5 cm x 45 cm. Along with an associated mahogany, lead weight
A Victorian cast iron hall stand the pierced back cast with mask heads and anthemion roundels centred by a mirror, above two umbrella stands with drip trays and a marble top drawer, two Victorian registration stamps to the reverse, 221 cm high.
A late 19th century hanging decorative hall mirror, with incised and ebonised gilt patterned frame, and gilt brass fitting to hold a gas bracket, the arched mirror decorated with a border of convex reducing roundels. Height 69 cm. Width 37 cm
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