"A Great Mirror is Like a Great Painting..." -Stanley Weiss
Narcissus was a man who caught a glimpse of his own reflection in a pool of water. Not knowing that he was, in fact, gazing into his own eyes, he fell in love with himself….That’s what Greek mythology tells us, anyway.
The first “mirrors” were pools of still water collected in small vessels. The first physical mirrors were made of polished pieces of obsidian stone – a natural type of volcanic glass. Egyptians used different metals such as copper, brass, tin, etc. to make the first mirrors as we know them – smoothed down, made reflective, with some type of ornamentation on the back, and sometimes with a handle. Natural glass mirrors can be traced back to the first century. A few second century Roman mirrors have surfaced – made with glass and finished with a metal layer. In the 14th century, glass blowing was invented and mirrors were made of cooled glass bulbs that were cut to form hollow mirrors (not delivering a perfect reflection, obviously). Next to make an appearance were the Italian renaissance mercury mirrors, which had a plate of flat glass with a thin sheet of reflective metal made of tin and mercury amalgam. The 19th century produced the silver mirror, which was made chemically by coating a glass surface with metallic silver. German chemist Justus von Liebig is credited with the silver mirror making technology. Today, mirrors are made by sputtering a layer of molten silver or aluminum onto a plate of glass.
Of course, there’s nothing special about the hotel bathroom mirror, a wall covered in a reflective panel. But, antique mirrors, with their ornate wooden frames and aged glass do more than just serve the function of being a place where you can smooth out your cowlick.
Stanley Weiss, of The Stanley Weiss Collection, says “A great mirror is like a great painting.” It’s a piece of art. Plus, he adds, “Mirrors are the least expensive way to decorate a wall.”
Part of the beauty of an antique mirror is in the antique glass. Anyone can replace old glass with shiny, new glass and keep the antique frame, but Weiss is one who appreciates the beauty in the age of the glass. Weiss is a dealer who knows the importance of selling genuine antiques. “Pieces you buy from us have credibility. We’ve been in this business for 30 years and we won’t put our name on something that isn’t 100% antique.”
I’m always curious to know what an antique dealer’s house looks like. “I’m basically a collector,” says Weiss, “I have hundreds of beautiful antiques in my home, and if I could fit all the things I buy in my house, I would!”