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Know the History Behind the Mirrors in Your Rooms

By Eric Blair Subscribe to RSS | April 23rd 2012 | Views:

Ever since Narcissus got lost staring into his reflection in a pool of water, we’ve all become enamored with the idea of occasionally looking at ourselves in the mirror. For some, it’s a quick glance before heading out into the world. For others, a relationship with a mirror is either a loving experience or one filled with the occasional dread (hangover morning?!). A mirror is something we all have in our home and is also something that is taken for granted, at least in a historical context.

Before the traditional mirror came along, the ancient Greeks and Romans would use convex discs made of some kind of shiny reflective metal such as bronze, tin or silver. When polished to a brilliant luster these surfaces could reflect back an image, albeit one with a “colored hue.” It wasn’t until the 16th century in Venice that the idea of using a chemical process of coating one side of glass with tin or mercury would create the modern mirror era. It took another several hundred years for this process to be perfected by Justus von Liebig who in 1835 brought us the techniques of creating mirrors that are still used to this day.

Getting into the science of mirrors uncovers that when light falls on an object, it is either reflected or absorbed. For a mirror to do its thing, that light needs to literally bounce back off that surface and that surface needs to be smooth. A flat mirror will provide as true an image as possible while the convex or curved mirrors will produce those distorted shapes most associated with a carnival funhouse.

While handheld mirrors were all the rage, it wasn’t until around the 17th century when mirrors in frames started showing up as decorations in homes. Here is when craftsmen began to experiment with designs by creating large round wall mirrors that could be used in a variety of locations. As a way of enhancing the mirror experience, these same craftsmen began to create ornate frames for hanging. Many of these antique large round mirrors have become prized family heirlooms handed down through the generations.

Today, mirror manufacturers continue the tradition of creating mirrors in all shapes and sizes. While many couples might have a disagreement over which type of painting to hang in a room, you can’t argue with the simple neutrality of a wall mirror. Not only will a mirror add light into a darkened room, it also gives the feeling of more space. When you have the opportunity to reflect back some of your outdoor greenery, you are bringing the beauty of your exterior surroundings right into your home. The next time you gaze into one of your mirrors, think about the long line of other folks who did that very same thing: they looked at their reflection.

Eric Blair - About Author: has been manufacturing hard-to-find picture frames, large round wall mirrors and related products since the mid 1980’s. With us you buy directly from the manufacturer and pay the lowest prices. You can choose from multiple sizes, variety of frame styles, and dozens of color options of large round mirrors. Avoid the middle man and enjoy getting the highest quality for the best price anywhere. Many of our frame styles are not available anywhere else.

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