The History of Mirrors
At Regaliana, one of our 3 key specialisms is mirrors and of course their use as mirrored works of art, which can add so much interest and style to any room. All of our mirrors and mirrored works of art come with a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ from the craftsman who made it, which guarantees their origin, materials and quality.
But what is the history of mirrors and how have ornate mirrors developed over time?
The origins of mirrors
The first mirrors were probably the pools of water that early mankind looked into to see their reflections, whilst the earliest man made mirrors were made from polished stone, such as black volcanic glass obsidian, dating back at least 6,000 years to Anatolia in modern day Turkey where examples have been found.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were all keen on mirrors, which at this stage were often manufactured using polished copper and bronze. Glass mirrors are known to have been first produced during the 3rd century AD, being quite common in Egypt, Gaul, Germany and Asia.
It was in the 14th century when the invention of glassblowing and the discovery of convex and concave mirrors that really started the popularity of glass mirrors. Although glass is the major component of mirrors, it is itself a poor reflector of light, so it must be coated in order to make a mirror. The most appropriate materials for making metallic coatings are silver, gold, and chrome.
During the Renaissance, Venice was a centre of mirror manufacture, where an amalgam of tin and mercury was used for the coating. It wasn’t until the German chemist, Justus von Liebig developed the silvered-glass mirror in 1835 that allowed mirrors to be mass manufactured at a price that could be afforded by ordinary people.
The History of Mirrors – Superstitions
Throughout the history of mirrors there have been many superstitions, including the one about seven years bad luck as a result of breaking a mirror. This is believed to go back to Roman times who thought a broken soul, as reflected by a broken mirror, would take 7 years to renew itself. They also believed the bad luck could be avoided if all of the broken pieces were buried deep in the ground.
The History of Mirrors for Decoration
Mirrors, or mirrored works of art as we call them have long been used for decoration of many different kinds. Here are just a few.
- Mirrors of all shapes and sizes are frequently used in interior decoration to create an illusion of space and amplify the apparent size of a room. Framed or unframed, they come in a variety of forms, such as the pier glass (where the mirror is placed on a wall between two windows) and the overmantel mirror.
- Mirrors are used also in some schools of feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space, to achieve harmony with the environment.
- The softness of old mirrors is sometimes replicated by contemporary artisans for use in interior design. These reproduction antiqued mirrors are works of art and can bring color and texture to an otherwise hard, cold reflective surface
- The Christmas bauble is in fact a decorative reflecting sphere of thin metal-coated glass.
On-line catalogues for Mirrors and Mirrored Wall Art.
Our online catalogues for mirrors and mirrored wall art (and our other products: Fresco art and paintings and model caricatures) feature an extensive choice of “made-to-order” designs, in a range of sizes and prices. We also offer a bespoke service across all products, ranging from the slightest modification of an existing catalogue design, through to bringing individual Client ideas to life via fully customized design commissions of any scale.
Whether from the Private or the Commercial Sector our objective is to fulfil the exact requirements of our Clients, therefore, if you are unable to find exactly what you are looking for or require further information please contact us.