How Can You Tell if a Mirror is Antique?

The classic beauty, rarity, and rich history of antique mirrors make them valuable decorative piece. If you are looking to give your interior an attractive appeal, you may want to add an antique mirror to introduce a sense of timeless elegance to your indoor space. However, it is important that you know even the basics on how to antique a mirror and worth the price.

Truth is, a mirror may not necessarily be antique just because it looks like one. Reproduction mirrors may have the same style or shape as an old frame could house a new mirror. Here are some telltale signs that can help you determine if a mirror is antique:

•   Aging Process of Mirro

First off, an antique wooden frame wouldn’t be in perfect or immaculate condition, regardless of how well it was preserved. The frame will have signs of aging, with a few spots on the mirror, discoloration of the finish as well as uneven corners which may have been caused by the contraction and expansion of the frame due to heat and cold over the years. Be sure to carefully sniff the wooden frame; a newly framed mirror will give off the smell of recently processed wood.

First off, an antique wooden frame wouldn’t be in perfect or immaculate condition, regardless of how well it was preserved. The frame will have signs of aging, with a few spots on the mirror, discoloration of the finish as well as uneven corners which may have been caused by the contraction and expansion of the frame due to heat and cold over the years. Be sure to carefully sniff the wooden frame; a newly framed mirror will give off the smell of recently processed wood.

•   Materials and Manufacturing Process Used

​There are some materials that could only be available in modern times. This includes certain staples, screws, and glue. In the same vein, there are some manufacturing methods that were not available in the past. For instance, the newly crafted glass will have a finer edge since it was machine cut. Factory-rounded edges, perfectly crafted shapes and drilled holes are a typical feature. Meanwhile, antique mirrors will have more rounded glass edges. Since antique mirrors are handcrafted, you do not expect to see perfectly symmetrical shapes; old screws and some form of irregularity are a typical feature of antique mirrors. Antique mirrors also have single slot heads.

•   Imperfect Glass 

Glass manufacturing process was only perfected in modern times. As a result, the glass of antique mirrors will have some waves or ‘bubbling’. A perfectly formed glass tells you that the mirror is not antique.

•    Sparkly Reflections

A mirror that has a sparkly and crystal-like reflection indicates the presence of mercury. In ancient times (as far back as the 16th century) glass production involved melding a tin sheet and spreading some mercury over it and onto the glass. This process allows the tin to remain on the glass but gives off a sparkly reflection.

This reflective coating is what makes the sheet of normal glass a mirror. Over the years, the materials used for this effect have changed massively. So, one telltale sign of an antique mirror is that it has a sparkly, crystalline reflection on the back of the glass.

​•    Framed

The mirror frame is one great way to tell whether the mirror is old or new. Look out for signs of wear and check behind the mirror to see how well it is attached to the frame. If the screws at the back of the mirror are modern Philip-head design, this is an indication that the mirror is either fairly new or the screws were replaced recently. If possible, ask for manufacturer’s tag on the back of the frame or mirror, as this can help you determine the age of the mirror. If the frame looks new, as though there are no aging spots or discoloration, this may be a sign that it is not antique.

Mirrors have long been decorative pieces in interior spaces. Before they became a common feature in the 17th century, people used pools of water to view their reflection. Over the years, people sought unique ways to make mirrors out of different kinds of materials, until antique mirrors came to light. Though antique mirrors are far from modern, they only add to the charm of an indoor space. while you may not be able to see clearly in them due to their distressing or aging spots, they are incredibly classy piece of art in their own right way.

As the demand for antique mirrors continue to increase, it would no longer be uncommon to see designers try to mimic these age-old decorative pieces. Hence, it is important that you apply the telltale signs as stated above so you can ensure you purchase the right piece for your home?

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