Antique Mirrors

Antique Mirrors

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  1. Antiques are usually thought to be something to collect but antique mirrors are more often purchased to accent a room or two. Sometimes they are placed over a fireplace or used in an entryway. It will add a little bit of history as well as becoming an extra accent to your home design. Any decor can be matched easily with many styles available. Although similarly produced everywhere, the different countries had names for each period in history:    


    • Gothic Period – The main feature in Gothic mirrors is having an arch that is pointed at the top of the mirror, with scroll work ornately drawn into the wood. During this period, the 15th century, most wood frames were made of oak.


    • Rococo Period – The Rococo mirror was rectangle shaped and had frames that were painted gold. They would decorate the top with scrolls and flowers carved in mahogany or walnut frames. They were introduced from 1689 until 1727.


    • Baroque Period – The Baroque mirror is oval shaped and have frames gilded with gold or silver. Carvings on the frames were not as ornate, and even though walnut was beginning to be popular, oak still remained the main type of wood they used. These antique mirrors came about from 1625 until 1689.


    • Regency Period – The Regency antique mirrors had gold gilded frames that were narrow with an oval shape. The wooden frames were made out of mahogany; scroll work was thinly done, with the top having flowers and shapes of leaves. Regency period lasted from 1812 until 1837.


    • Empire Period – The Empire mirrors were more simply styled and didn’t have ornate carvings like other antique mirrors. The rectangular pieces had just a little engraving done on inside of frames. The style remained with the gilding in gold and the most popular wood was in mahogany. These mirrors were made from 1727 until 1812.




    There are features that determine the value of the antique mirror. A mirror that has its original glass is an extra plus obviously. You can still find antique mirrors that do have the original glass. The condition of scroll work and the frame should be closely examined to see if they are the original also. If there has been patch work done you can tell. Original gilding should be present too but it won’t matter if there are some scratches and nicks. During the 19th century some frames were made with plaster on wire bases, called composition frames. Though they are attractive, plaster will chip and become damaged easily. Manufacturers in Europeperfected a method of coating the glass with a mercury-tin mixture and Venicebecame well known for their expertise in making glass mirrors. In this time period, the 16th century, glass mirrors became an extreme luxury.




    By seeing the overall appearance of an antique mirror you can sometimes tell from which country it originated. A mirror from Francemight display fleur de lis designs in the frame, and a mirror originating from Englandmay display lions in the design. Many reproductions have been made, but the glass on them is much thinner.




    Antique mirrors with decorative frames often are used for wall art. Placing mirrors on walls reflects daylight and gives more light to that room and makes a small space seem to be larger. Flea markets, garage sales, estate auctions, and second hand shops are all good places to look for a special antique mirror for enhancing any wall in the house. 

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