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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Lot of various items
Oct 20, 9:00 AM EDT
Lot of various items
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$254 Bids
3 Baroque Style Mirrors
Oct 23, 9:00 AM EDT
3 Baroque Style Mirrors
by Case Antiques, Inc. Auctions & Appraisals
Est: $350- $450
$1752 Bids
2 Jay Strongwater Mirrors
Oct 21, 12:00 PM EDT
2 Jay Strongwater Mirrors
by Willow Auction House
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
Lot of various buttons and a hand held mirror.
Oct 20, 9:00 AM EDT
Lot of various buttons and a hand held mirror.
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
A Rowley Gallery inlaid wall mirror,
Oct 19, 10:00 AM BST
A Rowley Gallery inlaid wall mirror,
by Sworders
Est: £300- £500
£2400 Bids
Erte - Pearls
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Erte - Pearls
by Dane Fine Art Auctions
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$1,0000 Bids
Roy Lichtenstein - New York 1923–1997 New York - «Mirror # 8, aus Mirror Series» − 1972
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CEST
Roy Lichtenstein - New York 1923–1997 New York - «Mirror # 8, aus Mirror Series» − 1972
by Galerie Gloggner
Est: CHF5,800- CHF8,000
CHF5,8000 Bids
SPECCHIERA - MIRROR FRAME
Oct 21, 10:00 AM CEST
SPECCHIERA - MIRROR FRAME
by Aste Bolaffi
Est: €0- €0
€2500 Bids
MANNER OF A.W.N. PUGIN WALL MIRROR, CIRCA 1860
Oct 20, 10:00 AM BST
MANNER OF A.W.N. PUGIN WALL MIRROR, CIRCA 1860
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £350- £450
£1700 Bids
ALEXANDER RITCHIE (1856-1941), IONA CELTIC REVIVAL HAND MIRROR, CIRCA 1920
Oct 21, 10:00 AM BST
ALEXANDER RITCHIE (1856-1941), IONA CELTIC REVIVAL HAND MIRROR, CIRCA 1920
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £300- £500
£1500 Bids
Silver hand mirror "J.A. Costa, Lda."
Oct 25, 7:00 PM WEST
Silver hand mirror "J.A. Costa, Lda."
by Leiloeira Santo Eloy
Est: €50- €120
€500 Bids
A SMALL RUSSIAN SILVER OVAL HAND MIRROR with initials A. H. 4 V 30. Marked .875. 3ins x 1.25ins
Oct 21, 10:30 AM BST
A SMALL RUSSIAN SILVER OVAL HAND MIRROR with initials A. H. 4 V 30. Marked .875. 3ins x 1.25ins
by John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
Est: £50- £60
£450 Bids
An Ornate Sterling Silver Mirror
Oct 17, 1:00 PM EDT
An Ornate Sterling Silver Mirror
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $125- $1,250
$1250 Bids
Round mirror with eagle crowni
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Round mirror with eagle crowni
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€4200 Bids
Historism wall mirror, end of
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Historism wall mirror, end of
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
19th C. Chinese Jade and Filigree Hand Mirror
Oct 30, 9:30 AM EDT
19th C. Chinese Jade and Filigree Hand Mirror
by Luban Antique
Est: $200- $500
$2000 Bids
Fancy framed dressing hand mirror and a brush
Oct 18, 2:00 PM PDT
Fancy framed dressing hand mirror and a brush
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $30- $90
$100 Bids
Turkish Silver Mirrors (2)
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Turkish Silver Mirrors (2)
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $400- $600
$1500 Bids
Turkish Silver Centerpiece & Mirror
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Turkish Silver Centerpiece & Mirror
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $600
$700 Bids
MIRRORED SCONCE WITH 3 VASES
Oct 24, 1:00 PM EDT
MIRRORED SCONCE WITH 3 VASES
by Charleston Estate Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$50 Bids
A St. Catherine's Chirch Pocket Mirror
Oct 17, 1:00 PM EDT
A St. Catherine's Chirch Pocket Mirror
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $15- $150
$150 Bids
A ROMANTIC WALL MIRROR
Oct 26, 7:00 PM WEST
A ROMANTIC WALL MIRROR
by Renascimento
Est: €100- €150
€1000 Bids
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Set: Handspiegel und Deckeldöschen.
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CEST
Set: Handspiegel und Deckeldöschen.
by Auktionshaus Eppli
Est: €0- €0
€2800 Bids
Turkish Silver Mirror
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Turkish Silver Mirror
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $600
$700 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Hand Mirrors


Apple Tree Auction Center

Apple Tree Auction Center

Keystone Auctions LLC

Keystone Auctions LLC

Weschler's

Weschler's

Lyon & Turnbull

Lyon & Turnbull