I have been collecting silver hand mirrors for over 10 years. The recent rise in silver prices has made it much more difficult to find examples in any reasonable price range. My heart breaks to think of the thousands that were melted down for cash. I do understand it, but it still makes me sad.
A while back I realized it made good sense to purchase smaller examples, which some folks call “purse mirrors”. Others prefer doll mirrors, but each is a tinier replica of hand mirrors from years ago. There are quite a few examples to be found, in part because they often had advertisements and were given as premiums or handed out to good customers of the company represented on their backs.
As is the case with my full-size mirrors, I began by collecting those made of sterling silver. I would find them at flea markets or consignment shops, often under $25. But, they too have gone up in price. I lowered my standards and settled for silver plate. Depending on the advertisement, these continue to rise in value as well.
I recently found one made of aluminum, advertising for a New Jersey Clothier called D. Wolff Co. It is a charmer and I could not resist. The next two I came across were brass. One advertises for Rex Chocolates, the other for a Wisconsin Rapids landmark, the Hotel Witter. I opened up my search to examples made of any metal.
After that commitment was announced, I went to an estate sale near Milwaukee. There I found a celluloid example and another that was actually porcelain. It has lovely flowers painted on it, violets I believe, and is signed “Limoges.” When hubby reminded me of the promise I’d made about only metal mirrors, I asked him if he’d rather I purchased these at $5 each or went back to my sterling silver mirrors at 7 times that amount. As you can see, he smiled and told me to go on, expand your horizons.
So at this time I will search for these cute little mirrors in just about any shape or material, as long as they make me happy. While it is nice to fine-tune your collection, when the market makes it difficult to comply, feel free to get creative!