The Appraiser’s Diary: Mirrors

Rachel G. HoffmanBy Rachel Hoffman

I have always loved a great mirror. Some of the most gaudy and elaborate French mirrors are my favorite. They are just so over the top and the frames look like something out of a fairytale. I once heard a proverb that said, “Mirrors show us what we look like, not who we are.” It’s so true but still for me, mirrors are fascinating artifacts. Light bounces off the surface of a mirror in such a way that it reflects the image of an object in front of the mirror. Mirrors have been used for thousands of years. Ancient peoples wanted to see their reflection as much as we do today.

896c7439b668eeb74c97b4d906918c49Mirrors were first made of polished stone such as obsidian, then of metals such as copper and bronze. Later mirrors were made of glass blackened on one side and coated with silver or tin and mercury.

When we think of mirrors, household mirrors and portable compact mirrors are the first types to come to mind. But mirrors are used to make other useful objects. Think how difficult driving an automobile would be without the use of rearview and side mirrors. The convex mirror makes images look smaller allowing you to see more of what is behind you.


Telescopes also use mirrors. The Mount Palomar Observatory was famous for the size of the mirror in its telescope. And if you have been to the dentist, you know that a dentist may examine your teeth using a mirror attached to a probe.


7822ecebe4abf7207be6c7d6d1faef5bMirrors serve us well and no living space is complete without one. They are an essential feature of certain items of furniture and popular in art. Here are a couple of my favorites by Norman Rockwell that have mirrors as a central part of the painting.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *