Reflecting on the magic of mirrors

Reflecting on the magic of mirrors

At Kernow Furniture, we can certainly put you in the picture when it comes to mirrors.

Sometimes a work of art in themselves, mirrors can be classified in several ways, including by shape, style, manufacture and use. We stock a wide selection of large and small vintage, retro and antique mirrors as well as overmantles. Our range includes wall mirrors, floor mirrors and table mirrors, from ornate brass or wood items to Regency cheval mirrors and hand-held looking glasses. View our collection of antique mirrors here.

A mirror can undoubtedly add style and character to a room, but a strategically placed one can also make a room look bigger and brighter. Mirrors will reflect both natural and artificial light thanks to the reflective coating behind the glass. The coating is usually silver but can also be chrome or gold. Placing a mirror near or directly opposite a strong source of light can be particularly effective.

Taking a look at history

Looking glasses, as they were once called, have an ancient history going back to the days when man first used water to look at his reflection.

Glass mirrors were thought to have been first produced in the third century AD. They were quite common at this time in Asia, Egypt, Germany and Gaul. They succeeded simpler versions manufactured from polished metals. Both of these types of mirror tended to be small and portable.

Once glassblowing was invented in the 14th century, glass mirrors became increasingly popular and proportionately larger. In the 16th century, Venice became a major manufacturing centre for mirrors along with Saint-Gobain in France. However, mirrors remained an expensive luxury item for the wealthy.

Things changed in the 19th century when a German chemist, Justus von Liebig, developed the silvered-glass mirror.  His process of placing a thin layer of metallic silver on the glass enabled mass production of mirrors and opened up the market for them to ordinary people.

A mirror to the soul?

Mirrors have long been associated with magic and superstition. From the legend of Narcissus and the musings of philosopher Plato, to the  fairy tale of Snow White and the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, mirrors have been a source of drama, danger and divination.

Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck.  This curse is believed to date back to Roman times when it was thought the soul took seven years to renew itself. To avoid bad luck, so it goes, the pieces of the broken mirror should be buried. A mirror falling from a wall is said to be a premonition of a death, while it used to be common to cover mirrors in a house where someone had died to prevent their soul being trapped in one of them. Mirrors are also a test against vampires who cannot be seen in them.

Putting yourself in the frame

Mirrors remain a functional item but, as outlined above, also play an essential part in modern home decor and design, adding sparkle to any room from halls to attics.

Here we shed some light on some of our current stock to inspire you.

The clean lines of this early 19th century mirror will add a touch of Regency elegance to any bedroom. Made of mahogany, it is durable and can be polished to a gleam. It will also complement many existing styles in a modern home.

Early 19th Century Regency Mahogany Mirror

If you prefer a touch of glitz and glamour, these vintage Venetian style mirrors will bring on the bling.

Large Venetian Style MirrorVintage Venetian Style Mirror

Chinoiserie is bang on trend this year. This early 20th century carved wall mirror has the openwork scroll and figural decoration typical of this popular and enduring style.

Carved Chinese Mirror

This large antique mirror with its moulded gilt frame, beaded border and original glass would make a great accent piece and shine a light on any room. Don't forget that it doesn't have to be hung on a wall either. Placed on a floor, large mirrors add informality to a room, with the added benefit that they can be moved with ease. You don't have to worry about fixings or leaving marks on the wall, particularly useful if you rent your home.

Large Victorian Gilt Mirror

Whatever your style, here's looking at you!



April 11, 2022 — Francesca Peterson

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