Multi-functional decorative objects, antique mirrors serve numerous purposes beyond the utilitarian function of helping you check your appearance. Whether your goal is to add light to a dark section in the house or simply elevate the atmosphere in your home with an air of sophistication, properly-set antique mirrors could be a perfect addition to your interior.
Before buying antique mirrors for your home, however, you should understand their different styles and value. This detailed guide carries vital information that will help you navigate the antique mirrors market with ease.
Types of Antique Mirrors
1. Antique Floor Mirrors
Also known as antique dressing mirrors and antique standing mirrors, antique floor mirrors were produced for the first time in the 1700s when new processes allowed the production of bigger mirrors. Antique floor mirrors are tall mirrors that stand independently on the ground, allowing you to see all – or most – of your body at once.
2. Antique Handheld Mirrors
Handheld mirrors have their origin in societies such as China, Egypt, and Mesopotamia where they were originally made using reflective metals. The earliest glass-coated, handheld mirrors were produced in what is called Lebanon today.
The major defining feature of handheld mirrors is their adorned handle. What’s more, these types of antique mirrors are small.
3. Antique Toilet Mirror
This type of antique mirror was generally made to stand upright on tables. It was more of a decoration than it was a tool.
Antique toilet mirrors were largely produced in the late 17th century. By the early 18th century, the antique toilet mirrors had evolved to carry a base with small drawers.
4. Antique Vanity Tray Mirror
Also called mirrored plateau, perfume tray, and dresser tray, the antique vanity tray mirror is a small tray that carries a mirrored surface. The tray was designed to display and hold women’s finest perfumes.
Extremely popular during the Victorian period, these trays also played the role of showcasing centerpieces on dining room tables.
5. Antique Wall Mirror
Antique wall mirrors were designed to hang on the walls. Large, decorative wall mirrors did not come into the market until the late 18th century.
Styles of Antique Mirrors
1. Baroque Antique Mirror Style
The Baroque style was popular in the 1600s and used silver or gold gilding. Also, this mirror style did take advantage of tortoiseshell or ebony inlays and carvings of leaves, flowers, angels, and fruits.
2. Georgian Antique Mirror Style
The Georgian era was influential in Britain between the years 1714 and 1814. This antique mirror style lacks elaborate carvings except for along the upper edge of the mirror frame. Some of the designs used during this period included symmetry, beading, and scrolls.
3. Gothic Antique Mirror Style
Between the 12th and 16th centuries, mirrors utilizing the Gothic style resembled church windows. The oval mirrors were framed in dark wood and featured carvings and scrolling. The mirrors are marked by pointed arches at the top.
4. Neoclassical Antique Mirror Style
Between the mid and late 18th centuries, the Neoclassical style of antique mirrors emerged. This style features medallion carvings and columns around the top. Neoclassical antique mirrors are generally available in the cathedral and rectangular shapes, with gold or silver gilded frames.
5. Regency Antique Mirror Style
This style dominated the early 1800s. Mirrors produced during the Regency period were oval and featured thin frames. They were generally marked by cornices, columned frames, and a leaf or flower design.
6. Rococo Antique Mirror Style
Between 1730 and the beginning of the 19th century, the Rococo style was extremely popular. This style featured heavy sculpted plaster frames that were gold gilded.
Natural items, including flowers, birds, feathers, and seashells were common on the frames. Rococo-style antique mirrors are generally oval or rectangular and feature a flat bottom. It was common for mirrors in this style to have a painting in the back.
Types of Reflective Surfaces Used by Antique Mirrors
From polished stone and shiny metals to backed glass, the reflective surfaces used on antique mirrors have evolved over the years. Below, we will look at the different reflective surfaces used on antique mirrors:
- The earliest antique mirrors used polished metals – like copper and tin – rather than glass.
- Blown glass was first used in Venice in the early 1500s to make mirrors that were backed with tin and mercury. The mirrors produced back then, however, were small and flat.
- The mirror glass used in Ancient Rome featured a green tint as it included iron.
- In the late 17th century and the early 18th century, the French managed to improve upon the Venetian mirror-making processes. This led to the creation of bigger sheets of glass.
- In 1835, the Germans invented a method of putting real silver at the back of glass sheets to make mirrors.
How to Determine the Value of an Antique Mirror
When you see an antique mirror that piques your interest, it’s always a good idea to determine the value of the antique mirror before paying for it.
The value of an antique mirror is affected by 2 major factors – its age and condition. In the following section, we will take a deeper look at these factors:
Age of the Mirror
In the majority of the cases, there is a direct correlation between the antique mirror’s age and overall value. For example, mass-produced antique mirrors from the early 20th century tend to command a lower price than hand-crafted mirrors produced in the 19th century and earlier.
Examining a mirror’s design, style, appearance, and reflective surface can help you determine when the antique mirror was first produced.
Condition of the Mirror
Sellable antique mirrors are generally placed in 3 main categories – Good Condition, Excellent Condition, and Mint Condition.
Mint condition means that the antique mirror is perfect and has no breaks or cracks. Excellent condition, on the other hand, means that the antique mirror features minor flaws – these may include minimal spots and chips and barely noticeable hairline cracks.
Good condition refers to antique mirrors with obvious wear and wither. Antique mirrors in good condition are still in their original design, although they feature major flaws compared to mirrors in mint and excellent condition.
As you would expect, antique mirrors in mint condition will have the highest cost, followed by the excellent condition, and finally, good condition.
Prices for Different Types of Antique Mirrors
Antique Floor Mirror Price
Depending on the condition, design, and age of an antique floor mirror, the cost ranges from $80 to over $5,000.
One of the most expensive antique floor mirrors we found online (check picture), had a price tag of $4,600 attached to it. According to the seller, the mirror stands at a height of 186.06 centimeters and has a width of 85.09 centimeters. The antique mirror dates back to the 1920s.
Antique Handheld Mirror Price
The price of antique hand-held mirrors sits between $20 and over $1000. The price of this type of antique mirror, however, varies significantly depending on the seller.
One of the costlier antique handheld mirrors we found online (check picture) had a price of $660. According to the seller, the antique mirror has a length of 26 centimeters and a width of 14 centimeters and dates back to the 19th century. The metal handheld mirror is silver plated and features interesting designs on its back and handle.
Antique Toilet Mirror Price
Depending on the seller, antique toilet mirrors are available at prices ranging from $120 to over $1500.
The antique toilet mirror whose image appears in this section features a price of $132.19. According to the seller, the mirror is from the Regency Period, its frame is made with mahogany wood, and is 66 cm high with a width of 31 cm.
Antique Vanity Tray Mirror Price
Online, the price of antique vanity tray mirrors sits between $20 and $400. It is, however, worth noting that some online sellers may offer this type of antique mirror at a price higher than $400.
The antique vanity tray mirror whose image appears in this section features a price of $325. The mirror features an Angel Cherubs chain and measures 16 x 12 inches.
Antique Wall Mirror Price
The price of antique wall mirrors sits between $50 and $400.
The cheapest antique wall mirror (check image) we found online had a price of $59.49. According to the seller, the antique wall mirror was manufactured in the Victorian era, between the years 1850 and 1899. The mirror’s frame is made using mahogany.
While the types of antique mirrors have remained constant through the years, the designs have always evolved to match the popular styles in different eras. Determining the style of an antique mirror is usually the first step in placing the antique mirror in the right manufacture period. Knowing when an antique mirror was manufactured helps you determine its value.
This detailed guide discusses the different styles and types of antique mirrors. We also show you how to determine the value of the oldest mirrors.
If you feel there is something we did not mention in the article, go ahead and leave your question in the comment section. One of our antique mirror experts will respond to your question as soon as possible.