I recall the first antique hand mirror I ever bought. It was on vacation in Maine, on a shelf at a ‘thrift store. This lovely mirror just spoke to me – I was enthralled. Those wonderful roses, Art Nouveau detailing, the graceful handle. And it was marked “Empire Art Silver.”
The lady came over and said, “what a shame, the mirror is really awful!” I turned it over, and for the first time noticed that it did have shadowing and a lot of wear. But did I care? Absolutely not – The frame was the thrill!
Since that time, about 8 years ago, I have added numerous hand mirrors to my collection. Some are dated – 1904, 1909, etcetera. One of my favorites is round with a lot of detailing, scrolls, flowers and an open handle.
This one is Sterling Silver. It also has a rather poor mirror, a little dent here and there. Another favorite is square and very, very ornate. I continued the search, but many I desired were out of my price-range. Found a few at auctions, others at yard sales or estate sales.
I especially like to find them with a monogram. I know, I know, that tends to decrease the value of silver items such as tableware. But I don’t mind! I know that there was once a little girl, teenager or matronly lady staring into their mirror. Perhaps putting makeup on or just checking their hair before the special occasion; a wedding, big dance or anniversary party. That just makes the mirrors feel special to me. And if it has an initial of a loved one, that makes it even better. My mom’s name was Ruth and the ones with “Rs” remind me of her.
I had a very delightful thing happen a while back. I was at a garage sale and saw a silver mirror with a voluptuous lady with long flowing hair. Lots of roses, lovely repousse. I asked the gent “how much for this?” His response was “no charge, just take it, it has no mirror.” I gladly scooped it up and with my purchases, skipped to the car. (As my kids will tell you, I am not an expert skipper, and people were actually gawking.)
You see, it did not bother me one iota that this had no mirror. I hang them on the wall in my bedroom and no one else knows the little ‘secret.’
Although my darling husband is very accommodating and has let me have a large wall for this display, we will soon be out of room so I have limited my purchases to only sterling silver ones. One of my top three is an Art Nouveau mirror with wonderful flowers and another features a 3-dimensional lady with a flower in her hair and a lily!
While I have said I will only collect silver mirrors, I did find a ‘must-have’ one that is more brass than not. But I could not pass on it! This one is unusual since it has a peacock at the top, a lady with a fan, a snake and several dragons. Now who could resist? Not me!
I know I am hooked – but I just don’t ‘reflect’ on my addiction too long. I enjoy them, as do all who view them!