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Hand Mirrors

For the vain Greek youth Narcissus of myth, who infamously gazed down at his own image in a reflecting pond, the lack of a hand-held mirror spelled the end. The attractive young man fell so deeply in love with his reflection that he chose to die next to the water rather than leave his "beloved" behind. History has produced a number of portable looking glasses that Narcissus might have loved almost as much as he loved himself.

Whether created from highly polished metal or from glass with a metal-coated back, hand mirrors have been a source of fascination for millennia. Ancient Egyptians were often depicted with mirrors in hand. The oldest discovered hand mirror, made of a shiny volcanic glass called obsidian, dates to the seventh century B.C. The glass mirror was invented in the 13th century, and in the 17th and 18th centuries, European mirrors, prohibitively expensive to produce at the time, were the ultimate status symbols, marking wealth, power, and refinement.

Fashioned from wood, pewter, bronze, silver, gold, and other materials, antique and vintage hand mirrors regularly turn up at auction houses, and many come with an interesting history, unique style, and high level of craftsmanship.


Quick Facts

  • Early mirrors played an important role in spiritual belief. In religion, mirrors were thought to show the soul and the heavens, while in witchcraft and sorcery, they were believed to reveal the past, present, and future.
  • In a 2012 Christie's auction in New York, a shield-shaped hand mirror adorned with variously-cut diamonds, emeralds, and rubies mounted in gold and platinum sold for a remarkable $60,000, far higher than its estimate of $15,000 to $20,000
  • A circa 1960 Cartier gold round beveled hand mirror set with square-cut rubies and sapphires sold at a Christie's London auction for £21,250

Recommended Items at Auction

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Silver Handheld Mirror with Griffin Engraving
Oct 16, 11:00 AM EDT
Silver Handheld Mirror with Griffin Engraving
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
Fine Hand Mirror | Feiner Handspiegel
Oct 14, 4:00 PM CEST
Fine Hand Mirror | Feiner Handspiegel
by Amadeus Auction
Est: €100- €200
€500 Bids
Antique nicely decorated hand mirror
Oct 02, 10:00 AM CDT
Antique nicely decorated hand mirror
by Thriftiques of Iowa
Est: $10- $1,000
$100 Bids
2 carved wood cased hand mirrors
Oct 01, 9:00 AM EDT
2 carved wood cased hand mirrors
by Horst Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$300 Bids
19TH C. FRENCH HANDPAINTED ENAMEL, PORCELAIN AND BRONZE HAND MIRROR SIGNED
Oct 01, 11:00 AM PDT
19TH C. FRENCH HANDPAINTED ENAMEL, PORCELAIN AND BRONZE HAND MIRROR SIGNED
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $1,200- $2,400
$9000 Bids
LARGE 19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
Oct 01, 11:00 AM PDT
LARGE 19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$1,5000 Bids
19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
Oct 01, 11:00 AM PDT
19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $1,200- $2,400
$8000 Bids
19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
Oct 01, 11:00 AM PDT
19TH C. FRENCH ENAMEL & BRONZE MIRROR SIGNED
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $1,200- $2,400
$8000 Bids
A very fine quality Empire period gilt-bronze hand mirror,French circa 1820
Sep 26, 6:00 PM AEST
A very fine quality Empire period gilt-bronze hand mirror,French circa 1820
by Artvisory
Est: AUD800- AUD1,200
AUD7500 Bids
Hand mirror in hallmarked Egyptian silver.
Sep 29, 5:00 PM CEST
Hand mirror in hallmarked Egyptian silver.
by Ansorena
Est: €150- €200
€1000 Bids
Handspiegel mit einem Sphinx / An Empire-style hand mirror with a sphinx, Maria Remy, Paris, Ende 19. Jh.
Sep 26, 8:00 AM CEST
Handspiegel mit einem Sphinx / An Empire-style hand mirror with a sphinx, Maria Remy, Paris, Ende 19. Jh.
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €120- €240
€1200 Bids
Handspiegel / A silver hand mirror, Georg Jensen, Dänemark / Denmark, 1925-32
Sep 26, 8:00 AM CEST
Handspiegel / A silver hand mirror, Georg Jensen, Dänemark / Denmark, 1925-32
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €450- €900
€4500 Bids
ART NOUVEAU HAND MIRROR SILVER PLATED
Sep 30, 12:00 PM EDT
ART NOUVEAU HAND MIRROR SILVER PLATED
by Converse Auctions
Est: $40- $80
$100 Bids
A St. Catherine's Chirch Pocket Mirror
Sep 25, 1:00 PM EDT
A St. Catherine's Chirch Pocket Mirror
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $15- $150
$150 Bids
Ornate Personal mirror
Sep 25, 1:00 PM EDT
Ornate Personal mirror
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $10- $100
$100 Bids
Een borstel en een gelegenheidsbeker, Holland, en handspiegel, Engeland
Sep 28, 2:00 PM CEST
Een borstel en een gelegenheidsbeker, Holland, en handspiegel, Engeland
by Veilinghuis Onder de Boompjes
Est: €60- €90
€600 Bids
SPOKANE WASHINGTON INDIAN CELLULOID MIRROR
Sep 30, 9:00 AM MDT
SPOKANE WASHINGTON INDIAN CELLULOID MIRROR
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $25- $50
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Hand Mirrors


Auction Plus, Inc.

Auction Plus, Inc.

Auktionshaus Schwab

Auktionshaus Schwab

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Ansorena

Ansorena