Antique Mirrors: Antique Wall & Overmantel Mirrors
A wide and varied selection of Antique Wall Mirrors, Fireplace Overmantel Mirrors and Period Giltwood and carved Mirrors.
There is something alluring about an antique mirror - perhaps the combination of a finely carved frame and the shimmering surface of original glass - that has led to their enduring appeal amongst antique furniture collectors.
A short history of antique mirrors
The earliest mirrored glass was made in Murano in the 16th century, where glass was coated in mercury and tin to create a silver reflective layer on its reverse. This process was a closely guarded secret, and spies were sent from the French court of Louis XIV to Venice to discover the process. Their efforts paid off, and the French became renowned producers in their own right. Antique mirrors were made using mercury glass until other safer methods of manufacture became more widely available in the 19th century.
Earlier antique mirrors also tend to be slightly smaller, or made with separate panels of mirrored glass, as there was not the technology to produce single sheets of large glass until the late 18th century. Only the very wealthy could afford very large panes of glass, so mirrors were objects of prestige and magnificence.
Varieties of antique mirror
Whether an antique wall mirror, an overmantel mirror or a pier mirror, it is often the frame that catches the eye. Particularly fine mirrors are carved from mahogany or rosewood, or gilded using gold leaf, rather than paint. Mirror frames tend to be made of carved wood or carved wood and gesso. They are called giltwood mirrors if a thin layer of gold leaf has been applied over the carved and primed surface. Such mirrors exude quality and vary from bright gold through to a more worn, soft patina. An antique gilded mirror is often deemed more valuable than its wooden counterpart and is seen as a timeless addition to interiors of all styles.
Eras of antique mirror
Antique overmantle mirrors embody the elegance of a period home, and can inject both sophistication and character into an interior. Victorian mirrors often come in overmantel form, as in 19th century England, the mantelpiece was the heart of the home, a space to display precious objects and convey taste. The earlier Regency overmantel mirrors were often horizontal in form and more modest in design. Victorian mirrors were not only gilt, but often carved from wood such as oak, mahogany and rosewood.
In France the overmantel mirror was similarly significant, and in many cases, much taller, utilising the space above the fireplace enabled by higher ceilings and grand rooms. These Antique French mirrors are usually gilded, and wood was not widely used without a gilded adornment.
Often smaller, antique wall mirrors are an excellent thing to hang above a piece of furniture or in a hallway, where they can create the illusion of a larger, lighter space. They are less dominant than an overmantel, and serve a function in rooms such as bedrooms or hallways.
If you are looking for an overmantel or any Antique mirrors London is the place to look. Our showroom has numerous options all on display for you to browse, from early Georgian wall mirrors through to large Aesthetic movement overmantels.