5 Interesting Observations About Fretwork Mirrors

Known American fretwork mirror at the left (from Philadelphia) with a known English mirror on the right.

1. The design known as a Chippendale Fretwork Mirror is referred to as such because it reached popularity during the days of Chippendale, but these mirrors, however, came to be during the Queen Anne period.

2. During the period fretwork mirrors were called “looking glasses” – the term mirror was used to describe small, hand-held glasses.

3. Fretwork mirror often had the innermost molded edges of the frames gilded.

4. If you find a period fretwork mirror with the grain of the cresting (the upper scroll-cut design at the top of the frame) running from side-to-side, the cresting is solid wood. If the cresting grain runs top-to-bottom, it is likely that the cresting is a veneer (vertical in orientation) over a substrate (generally pine) with its grain running side-to-side.

Along with the grain direction of the frame and the gilded inside molded edge, notice the amount of degradation of the silvered mirror backing, which is known as foxing.

5. Period mirrors with an American origin generally had molded frames with grain running parallel to the glass edges. Frames of English designs often had the grain running perpendicular to the glass edges. (It’s easier to see this detail in the image at right.)

— Glen D. Huey



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One thought on “5 Interesting Observations About Fretwork Mirrors

  1. Glen ,Very interesting facts on Chippendale mirrors. I have built
    several and my wife wants more. They add so much to a home.
    Sometimes a little complex but well worth the effort. Just price mirrors
    made by The Kittinger co. or Henkel Harris and you will see building one
    is something you will enjoy for years or maybe even pass down. You have inspired me. Thanks as always.

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