How to Tell If a Mirror Is Antique

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Antique mirrors are popular because they add elegance to any room in your home. The important thing to note is that reproductions can mimic the style of the mirror and a new mirror can be placed in an antique frame. This can make it difficult to determine whether the mirror is antique or not at first glance. However, there are signs to look for when you examine the mirror and some will give you clues as to the age of the mirror. Continue reading to learn how to tell if a mirror is antique.

Examine the Glass

The glass of the mirror can often give you insightful clues about the age of a mirror. Modern sheet glass is generally smooth and free of bubbling or imperfections. The way that glass is made today, manufacturing machines ensure that there are no flaws in the glass of the mirror. This is very different from antique glass that has some imperfections even if you have to search to find them.

If your mirror is antique, you might find small waves in the glass or bubble within it. An imperfection may not guarantee that the glass is antique but it is certainly one clue to consider. Most importantly, if the glass of the mirror is nearly flawless in every way, it is likely modern glass.

Look at the Back of the Glass

The reflective coating on the back of the glass is what makes the glass turn into a mirror. Manufacturers use materials to create this effect and they have changed over the years. In the 16th century, they spread mercury over a thin layer of tin. Then they placed the glass on top of this mixture. There was a reaction between the mercury and the tin, which caused this new mixture to stick to the glass. If you look at this type of mirror, you will see a sparky appearance behind the glass. If you discover this on your mirror, it is likely an antique.

Check the Mirror for Splotches or Dark Spots

Another way to find out if your mirror is antique is to look for dark splotches or spots on the mirror. The mirror coating on the back of the mirror tarnishes or oxidizes over time and antiques have been around for a long time. These spots might be visible through the glass when you are looking at the mirror. Normally, you will see the greatest changes near the bottom, which comes from moisture from cleaning the frame over time. If the oxidation appears to be uniform, you are probably dealing with a modern mirror. Antique mirrors will have uneven oxidation. You might also find scratches on the mirror, which is a sign that it has been around for a long time.

Before the 1800s, mirrors were never more than two feet long on any side. It is important to know this because if your mirror is larger, it was made after this time. There are many ways to inspect your mirror to determine if it is an antique but if you have trouble, you can take it to an antique mirror expert and they will be able to identify it for you right away.

Antique mirrors are very popular because they are considered elegant. Mirrors of any kind can open up a house and bring in a level of elegance and décor. When you are looking for a mirror, you might want to find an antique because it can be a great focal point for your home.

If you want to know whether your mirror is an antique, you can follow the steps above. Remember that antique mirrors were made before the days of perfect machine manufacturing. They will have small yet noticeable imperfections that help you identify the time period of the mirror. Examine the mirror and look for clues that tell you it is an antique.

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1 Comment

  1. I have a copperplated Garner mirror dated April 3 19??
    The last to numbers u can’t see. It’s 22”❌16”❌.25. Anyway I’m trying to find out the last two. Thank you

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