In the Market for an Antique Mirror? Be Sure to Make These 5 Considerations in the Process

Antique mirrors can add an extra level of elegance and luxury to almost any home. Not all mirrors are created equal, though, so it's important for homeowners to consider their purchases carefully. Read on to find out about five of the most important considerations to keep in mind while purchasing an antique mirror.

Determine Its Placement

Placement will determine everything from size to style, so decide where the mirror will go before even looking into options at local antique stores. Wall-mounted mirrors are perfect for brightening up smaller spaces and making them look larger, while full-length mirrors are better for bedrooms and walk-in closets.

Keep in mind that wall-mounted mirrors require specialized hardware, and consider enlisting services from Capitol Glass to hang it. An antique mirror is an investment, so it's not worth risking a DIY installation.

Choose a Period and Style

Antique mirrors range substantially in age, but there are seven main styles of antique mirrors that correspond to unique periods, starting with the Gothic period in the early 1600s and ending with the Victorian period from the early 1800s to 1900. As a general rule, older mirrors will be more valuable, but monetary value isn't most antique collectors' main concern. Get to know the key characteristics of mirrors from different periods and choose one that will complement the home's decor or its other antiques.

Spotting Fakes

Some antique mirrors are very valuable, which has led many artisans to create forgeries. Look for oddities in the mirror's style or design that may indicate it is not authentic and make sure to take a look at the glass. While modern sheet glass mirrors are smooth and free of bubbles, antique mirror glass almost always has some imperfections.

As antique mirrors age, the mercury, tin, or silver reflective materials typically oxidize or tarnish. This results in dark or blotchy spots most commonly found near the bottom of the mirror. Oxidization can also be faked, so if it looks too uniform, that may also be a sign of a fake.

Quality and Condition are Always Important

Few antiques are in perfect condition, but those that have been properly maintained throughout the years tend to be worth more and look better than those that have been sitting in someone's attic for decades. Take a look at the frame and look for signs of repairs. It's not uncommon for antique mirrors to have undergone restoration or repairs, but buyers should be aware that they can impact the piece's value.

Hiring Appraisers

Want to know exactly how much an antique mirror is worth? The best route to take is to hire an appraiser. Written appraisals include item descriptions, an estimate of the piece's fair market value, and an estimate of its replacement value.

Keep in mind that getting an appraisal isn't cheap. Some appraisers charge flat fees, while others charge hourly rates. Either way, having an antique mirror appraised by a professional can cost hundreds of dollars.

The Bottom Line

Antique mirrors make a perfect addition to both traditionally styled and more modern homes, but buyers need to educate themselves. They should find out what common features to look for depending on when the mirror was manufactured. Know how to spot forgeries and learn how to hang and care for antique mirrors before looking into purchasing an antique mirror.


I am Vera Watson. Drawing The House is a dream that was conceived when I saw a niche in consumer guide on almost everything in our homes. My main aim is to help you save money by testing the products you need and recommending you the best of them all. I believe in the family as an institution and the first way to make a family happy is providing the best for them.

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