Continuing our articles on the ‘History of Mirrors’ we move forward in time and in technology:
The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used polished bronze and copper to make their mirrors, which were used not only as looking glasses, but items of decoration and luxury, and to exhibit one’s wealth as well; these polished metals often carrying decorative gems and engravings around the edges – much in the same vein as we use frames.
There is some dispute over the time of the creation of the first glass mirror. Some historians believe that they were created around the 3rd Century AD, others believe that they were first invented around the 1st Century AD. All seem to agree, however, that they were invented in Lebanon, most theories pointing particularly to an area known as Sidon.
Both reports, though, agree that they were invented not long after the discovery of glass making. Small sheets of glass were backed with metals such as lead for the wealthy, or gold leaf for the very wealthy, to provide the reflective element to them. These early glass mirrors weren’t particularly popular, though, as they were only produced in sizes around 3 inches in diameter and the quality of the reflections were generally poor.
Now we have mirrors made of glass, with a fine layer of silver coating on the back. This process, called ‘silvering’, was invented by Justus Van Liebig – a German chemist - in 1835. Make sure you keep an eye on our blog and newsletters to find out more.