Antique, crystal

Antique, crystal

It would seem that in the south of France the sun always shines and the temperature in this region does not drop below zero. In fact, winter is more like autumn here, but today’s day was extremely cold.

In spite of this, cold didn’t discouraged antiques’ lovers!  As in every first weekend of the month, in Les Aléess Francois Verdier an antiques market was  organized.

Although it was not as big as usual, it was possible to admire of some of the stands and what their sellers offered.

Particular attention I focused on mirrors,  I couldn’t resist, of their charm and they inspired me to write something about their history.

Antique, crystal in gold frames, formerly adorning the palaces, today wonderfully connecting  with modern interiors. They add them some charm and magical character and optically enlarge every space.


From antiquity to the Middle Ages, the mirrors were simple metal disks with a slightly convex, polished surface, which, unfortunately, quickly lost its gloss. Glass mirrors appeared in Europe in the 13th century. They consisted of a glass surface on which a lead or polished silver plate was overlapped. In the 15th century, the production of tin mirrors known as the famous mercury mirrors began in Venice. The glass plate was coated with mercury and tin alloy and it was called tinning method. The surface was covered with tin and then polished, and mercury was placed on  it. Later, for one day, the whole was pressed with an iron mass, and mercury residues were removed by tilting the glass plate. That is how the shiny surface was created. The mercury dissolves the tin forming a mixture adhering to the glass. It took even a month to get a perfectly even surface.


The Venetian mirrors were clean, transparent and had an amazing reflection strength. Unfortunately, this method of creating mirrors by using mercury had a very harmful effect on the health of employees.

The changes took place  when the Venetians invented a modern technique enabling the production of more transparent and durable glass. The new patent turned out to be so perfect and unique that the glaziers who developed it were imprisoned on the island  Murano, and they were threatened with death for betraying this secret. Despite this ban issued by the Venetian government, the news reached Germany, where competitive plants operated until the end of the 16th century

During the reign of Louis XIV in France, various glass techniques were used. The first attempts to create unique mirrors in the late 1630s proved to be unsuccessful. During the reign of Louis XIV, the Venetian mirrors enjoyed enormous popularity decorating the interiors of the palaces of the French aristocracy.

The French wanted to know the secret methods of their formation, very much. The French envoy in Venice received from Colbert the order to kidnap those glaziers. It was in 1665. That’s how it happened, four glaziers were abducted to France together with their families. Thanks to this, Colbert could open his own Saint Gobain mirror factory. The mirrors produced there were equally   perfect and were made in large sizes. The glass factory exists to this day. In 1672, Colbert banned the import of mirrors from Italy. In this way, the French managed to master the secret methods of producing mirrors, which over time were improved.
In 1835, the German baron Justus von Liebig refined the old methods using the chemical process of coating the surface with silver. Today’s process of creating mirrors involves vacuum spraying a very thin layer of aluminum or silver on the underside of the glass plate. The mirrors began to be manufactured on a large scale in the 19th century. In the past, not everyone could afford to buy a mirror, today it is hard to imagine life without it. You just need to be careful not to fall into self-admiration when you look at it for too long.
Serie 881
Tagged , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *