Introduction to Antique Mirrors
Below, you will find all you need to know when considering purchasing Antique Mirrors, with some advice from one of our Antique Dealers and some handy tips from our resident Interior Designer.
Expert Antique Dealers Advice
Considerations when purchasing an antique mirror
Chris Bradford, General Manager at Windsor House Antiques, has been in the antique business for over forty years and specialises in 18th C and 19th C mirrors, below is his top tips to consider when looking at acquiring an antique mirror.
- Enhancements - As Chris points out there are a variety of features that will enhance the value and beauty of antique mirrors. In terms of mirrors that feature gliding, establish whether it is original, if it is original it will contribute towards its value. Features that enhance the mirrors value also include carving, the carving on an 18th C mirror is far crisper than that of a 19th C mirror for instance. A beveled edge is a lovely feature and deemed very attractive, as is the original ball and chains found on the back of convex mirrors, which will only seek to add to their value and originality.
- Mirror Glass - If the mirror plate is original it will contribute towards the price, however in some cases the lead may have come through to the mirror plate to such a degree that it although it has been retained it may have been re-covered, this can negatively affect its valuation, but is to be expected sadly in such old pieces. Over time the reflective silver mercury found on the back of an antique mirror glass can corrode, a reaction which occurs due to oxidization, this will then appear as cloudy spots on the mirrors glass. The colour of the mirror glass will also reflect the age of the mirror; the older the mirror glass is the more the colour will appear yellow or grey.
- Frame - The frame of your antique mirror will have imperfections, it is natural over time but as long as it has been treated right it should not affect the value substantially. Antique mirror frames are most likely to be made from durable woods such as oak, mahogany or walnut. They may also feature a wood veneer or be made from copper, brass or other metals.
- Age - If you want to age your antique mirror it is useful to look at the back of your mirror, traditionally antique mirrors will have a wood backing rather than a paper backing. The nails, hangers and screws used will also be indicative of the age of your antique mirror. Modern mirrors will feature more uniformed, machine made construction. The back of the mirror may also feature the makers name and origin of manufacture, which will be useful to determine its age.
- Means of Manufactory - Very early mirrors, especially those that were particularly large would have been made in two or three sections, this does not affect their value and it is quite typically the case when it comes to mirrors dating back to the 17th C onwards. It is important not to be put off if the antique mirror was produced in sections, as this was the only means of production at one point in time.
Interior Designers View
Five ways to incorporate an antique mirror into your home
Our loveantiques.com resident interior designer, Lizzie Greenaway, suggests five useful points below to consider when purchasing and placing an antique mirror within your home, ensuring it is used and admired to its full advantage.
- Use mirrors to add light - If your living space is relatively small mirrors are the perfect addition to make a room feel instantly larger. If your home does not benefit from natural light you can also place mirrors directly across from the windows in the space to add light. This will help illuminate dark areas, it can also expand space visually or even reflect a particular view.
- Decorative - Fill empty wall space with numerous vintage and antique mirrors, this eclectic look will add dimension, as well as light to the room. Mirrors are a versatile option when it comes to decorating a room. Dramatic, elegant, classical, antique mirrors can be treated as pieces of art and hung in the same manner.
- Focus - A bold statement antique mirror can be made into the focal point of the room. An extra large mirror can be placed on the wall, freestanding or above a mantelpiece to create a strong, distinctive look and style within your space.
- Make an Entrance - Mirrors displayed in the entryway to your home or rooms open up a space, practically you can also check your appearance on arriving and departing your home. An antique mirror in an entranceway creates ambience in the household immediately and the space instantly becomes more creative.
- Atmosphere - Remember that mirrors can be used to create an atmosphere, placed in a dining room they impact the area and enhance gatherings such as dinner parties. Candles placed in front create romance and warmth.
Extra Considerations when purchasing Antique Mirrors
It is expected that antique mirrors may have acquired a few minor damages over the years, there may be a few scratches, marks and alterations that have been performed and this is often to be expected when it comes to antique items of furniture. It is also possible that there may be imperfections of the glass of the mirror. You can ask the dealer to point out what repairs or alterations have been made to your antique mirror before you purchase it, it may be you find a number of historic woodworm holes, due to the nature and age of the piece but usually these will have been treated.
Purchasing an antique item is extremely environmentally friendly, it means that items, such as antique mirrors that would have otherwise have ended up been thrown away get to be rehomed, reused and recycled and re-loved. There are plenty of new mirrors available on the market, but there is something rather charming about an antique mirror and as there is such a wide variety of styles to choose from it means you are able to find one to suit your needs whilst respecting the environment.
Valuing Antique Mirrors
The age of the mirror glass can largely affect the value of the mirror, if it is colourless it will be an indication of modern glass, also if it is replacement glass it will impact how valuable your piece is. You should expect the frame of your mirror to show signs of wear and tear, again if it does not it may suggest it is a reproduction, which is not as valuable.
If the antique mirror is attached to a dresser it will need to be removed before it is transported. Ensure that the mirror is wrapped securely to avoid it getting damaged in transit. In order to ensure that the mirror is delivered as safely and securely use a blanket to wrap around the mirror, or you can always wrap bubble wrap in conjunction with cardboard panels to ensure it does not get damaged. It is always imperative to use a reliable, registered delivery service when transporting items of value if you are not moving them yourself. It is also important to consider whether you sure insure the item before it is transported to avoid any costly damage to your antique mirror.
It is of upmost important to be gentle when cleaning your antique mirror, you will need to protect the glass and frame from possible damage that may occur if you are too rough. It is best to avoid chemical products to clean your antique mirror as it may erode the condition; gentle products such as a solution of water and vinegar to polish the glass are best. You can dust your mirror, especially those with detailed ornamentation with a soft bristled paintbrush or feather duster to avoid any breakage of delicate decorative elements.
When it comes to choosing antique mirrors, there are free standing mirrors, wall mounted mirrors, toilet mirrors, hand held mirrors and vanity mirrors to name a few. Antique mirrors come in a variety of styles including rococo, neoclassical, art nouveau and baroque. Antique mirrors may have been made from wood, metal, glass or ceramics. Whatever the style and feel of your home there is an antique mirror to suit every interior.
For a selection of Antique Mirrors, visit www.loveantiques.com/antique-mirrors.