7 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Antique Mirror

7 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Antique Mirror

Even with the increasing popularity of modern home designs, a lot of people still use antique mirrors to add a unique vibe to their houses. Mirrors are not only meant to reflect your appearance and help you fix yourself. An antique mirror can serve as a focal point of an area inside your home.

Although a contemporary mirror can be a good choice as well, an antique piece would bring a whole new flavor to your space. If you are planning to use this type of mirror in your house, it’s better to know a few things about it before you make a decision.


Guide to Buying an Antique Mirror

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1. Different Types of Antique Mirrors

If a plain mirror has different types, you can expect that its antique counterpart can also be divided into different kinds. Here are some of the types of ancient mirrors that you can choose from:

  • Handheld mirrors

One of the most common mirrors used throughout history is a handheld model. In the past, handheld mirrors were more than just decorations. They were often used in rituals and funerary rites. Some people even use them for entertainment purposes.

It’s not surprising that you can still see antique handheld mirrors on the market right now. They are easier to keep and they don’t get damaged easily as long as you store them properly.

  • Toilet Mirrors

If you’ve watched European movies with an ancient setting, you will often see a lot of toilet mirrors in wealthy families. This is a type of mirror that is often incorporated into a drawer or cabinet. It’s known as a toilet mirror because it is often used by ladies to put on makeup and make themselves beautiful.

It is designed to fit on top of a dressing table. If you are planning to buy one, you will have to buy the entire dressing table and not just the mirror.

  • Cheval Mirrors

This is a type of mirror that is larger than a toilet mirror. It is a French word for “horse” since it can stand on four legs. This type of mirror was first made in Paris and it became popular in the 19th century because of its unique design.

This is a freestanding mirror and it is usually attached to a wooden stand. You don’t need to hang it as long as the stand is still in good condition. The frame is relatively thick and they come with carved detail.

  • Wall Mirrors

Large wall mirrors became very popular during the 1700s. Although smaller mirrors took over after that, large mirrors still stayed as one of the most popular options if you want to make your interior look bigger.

Most of the wall mirrors are hung even with their large size. This is the reason why most people are looking for antique mirrors that can be placed on the wall. Just like the cheval mirrors, the frame is usually big and it has a carved detail. The details on the frame will tell you the age of the mirror and how well it is preserved.

2. Always Check the Frame

One of the most important things that you need to do is to do a thorough checkup of the frame. It is the lifeblood of your antique glass mirror so you have to make sure that it is still in good condition. Since it’s already antique, you can’t expect the frame to look brand new. You might find scrapes or damage on the surface, which is totally fine unless it would affect the stability of the mirror. Here are the other things that you can do to check the frame:

  • You need to inspect the mirror personally or you can ask the seller to take a picture of the different sides to see if there are any issues. Take note that you need to scrutinize every nook and cranny of the frame to make sure that it still looks good.

  • You can ask the seller if it has been repaired already. If it is, ask them about the method used to repair it and you should ask about the part that was repaired.

  • If the frame looks cracked, it’s better if you will just hang it on the wall. You can get it repaired if you want, but if it still looks good, it’s better to keep the frame without repairs. If it looks beat up and it might collapse any minute, bring it to a repair shop and ask them to paint the frame.

3. Inspect the Screws

The screws hold the frame and the mirror together so if you’re looking for an ancient artistic mirror, you will have to inspect them thoroughly. Look for rust or scratches to know if the frame has been taken care of over the years. The screws should still be working despite their ragged appearance.

When you are inspecting the screws, make sure that they are hand-made or they are irregular in shape. This will ensure that your mirror is antique. You can easily spot if the screws are modern as they are more well-formed and they look brand new even if they are already rusty. This will tell you if the frame is recently made or is antique.

4. Look at the Hanging Hardware

If you are planning to hang the mirror in your house, you have to check if it has hanging hardware at the back. Remember that many of the antique mirrors were actually designed to be placed in a dresser or cabinet. Because of this, you won’t see any hanging hardware at their back.

You might say that adding hanging hardware is very easy. Yes, but only if the wood frame is still in good condition. It is an ancient piece of furniture so you should expect that the frame has already deteriorated. Adding hanging hardware can actually worsen the condition of the frame.

Ask a professional if the wood is still in good condition if you have no idea how to check it. They will tell you if adding hanging hardware is still viable.

5. Glass Thickness

When you’re looking for antique glass, thickness is a very important factor. Well, they are typically thicker compared to modern glass since they are made through hand-blown glass production.

A high-quality item will let you feel its thickness even when you’re just holding the item. By holding the glass, you can easily feel if the mirror is very thick or not. This will also separate fake antiques from the real ones. Most of the fake antiques have thin mirrors so by doing this, you can save yourself from buying replicas.

The thickness of the glass will also tell you if it has been replaced or not. Although most people won’t really care if the glass was replaced, the original glass can tell you about its age. Older glass also has a yellow or gray tone instead of just being colorless. You can also see imperfections on the glass if it’s already old and we will talk about it below.

6. Glass Imperfections

One of the factors that you have to check is the imperfections in the glass. Don’t be alarmed, because if you notice some imperfections in the glass, it means that it is an ancient piece. These include bubbling on the glass, a few scratches, and cloudy spots.

There are instances where cloudy areas and bubbling can add character to the mirror. As long as it’s not fully covered by imperfections, then it’s still a good antique glass.

However, imperfections are not always positive. There are specific damages that can actually bring more harm than good. You might see a few cracks in the glass which can grow as time goes by. This is something that you have to avoid at all costs. You can replace the glass if you want, but if you want that ancient vibe, retaining its original glass is the best choice.

7. Know the Right Value

If you don’t want to make a mistake when buying an antique mirror, you need to know its value. There are instances where the sellers would overprice the mirror so you need to do a bit of research to make sure that they cannot take advantage of you.

Regency mirrors are usually the cheapest among antiques. You can find an 18th-century piece for a few hundred dollars. However, there are cheval designs that can fetch up to $3,000 or more, especially those that are made from mahogany with a full-length reflection.

Baroque mirrors can reach up to $6,000 or more depending on the material used to create the frame. There are cheaper alternatives that you can often get for about $600 to $800. They are decorative replicas that were made in the 1900s.

Rococo mirrors, on the other hand, are more expensive and can reach a value of $20,000 and more. If you are an antique collector, this is definitely something that you would want to have.


Final Thoughts

Buying an antique mirror requires a lot of research and knowledge about history. If you don’t know anything about antiques, you might end up spending more on a piece of furniture with a low value. Looking for professional help would be a good start since there are a lot of experts out there who can help you find a decent antique for your collection.

If you are looking for elegant antique mirrors in the market, we’ve got a wide range of items that you can choose from.