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How do I know if my mirror is antique?

How do I know if my mirror is antique


From oversized, ornate antique wall mirrors to dainty handheld examples, mirrors are both decorative and functional. But, how do you know if a mirror is antique? Our guide highlights the features of an antique mirror and explains how to spot a fake.

Characteristics of antique mirrors

Antique mirrors from different periods in time will share similar characteristics, but it is worth remembering that reproduction items and counterfeit items will also share these features to give the appearance of authenticity. The most popular periods and their corresponding characteristics can be summed up briefly as follows:

Antique Baroque mirrors (1600-1750) are often oval or rectangular in shape with bevelled glass and gilded in precious metals. They are adorned with cherubic figures, and motifs taken from nature such as foliage and garlands.

Antique Rococo mirrors (mid-18th century) are oval in shape and crafted from walnut and mahogany with bronze gilding. Ornately decorated, they often feature shell motifs.

Georgian/Regency mirrors (1714-1830) Georgian mirrors were made from veneered oak in oval and rectangular shapes, while Regency mirrors were oval and round with convex glass. Often made from mahogany, they were adorned with natural motifs including leaves and birds. The Regency period is also known for its freestanding cheval mirrors.

Victorian mirrors (1837-1901) are characterised by their oversize proportions. Rectangular in shape, they were made from dark woods or metal and were heavily decorated.

How to spot a fake mirror

Reproduction mirrors, as long as sold as such, are bona fide items that have been produced in the style of a particular era without purporting to be genuine. By contrast a counterfeit, or fake, item is one that is passed off as genuine or authentic when it is not. When in doubt, always seek advice from an expert but there are features to check.

Antique mirror glass – genuine antique mirror glass will have imperfections such as bubbling and a crystalline or sparkly appearance from the mercury backing. Dark patches on the glass may indicate time related tarnishing and will appear at the bottom of the mirror – be wary of uniform patching!

The mirror frame – an antique frame will not be perfect. The passage of time will have left imperfections such as wearing and scratches and where there is deep ornate carving there may also be dust.

Antique mirror fixings – look for hand crafted fixings as an antique will pre-date mass produced nails and screws. An antique screw will be irregular in shape possibly with an off-centre screwdriver slot.

For more details of what to look for in an antique mirror, our article has lots of helpful tips.

Antique mirrors for sale

From overmantel mirrors to large wall mirrors and everything in between, our antique mirrors department includes something for everyone. With over a hundred items online and many more to browse in our antique centres, our expert dealers always have a wide choice of style and period to suit every taste and budget. Buying from reputable dealers will also take the worry away about the authenticity of your favourite piece.

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