If you own an antique mirror or other antique furniture with glass, you may have found yourself wondering whether or not to replace the old glass or mirrors. And, if you’ve thought about it, you probably wonder where to find replacements. While it’s always best to keep original glass and mirrors for your antique pieces, if there is some serious damage, or it really bothers you, you may want to replace the glass or mirrors.
Most antique mirrors tend to lose their silver backing over time as the backs get scratches during moves or just when there’s changes in humidity and temperature in their surroundings over their lifespan. That lends to the piece’s character, and you don’t really need to worry about it. But, if you don’t like how the old, beautiful antique mirrors look, you do have a few options.
Option One – Replacement
The cheapest and easiest option is to replace the mirror. If your piece consists of a bevelled glass mirror, aim to replace it with another bevelled mirror rather than something more flat and plain, which will just cause the new mirror to stand out as a newer replacement, lacking the elegant and classic look of the bevelled mirror. There are some people who prefer to take the old mirror and get it re-silvered. If this is your preferred option, make sure that the re-silvering is done by a professional and be prepared to pay quite a bit for it.
Option Two – Strip the Silver
Another option is to completely strip off all the silver off your old mirror, reducing it down to old glass. You can then put a new mirror behind that, back to back.
This option only really works well if the supports and holders for the older glass can accommodate the thickness of two mirrors back to back. For this, you’ll need to spend some time searching online to find a method for stripping the silver or a source for re-silvering.
Replacing the Old Glass
As for replacing the glass, aim to replace it with vintage glass if at all possible. Try to match the style of the glass you already have. Some older glass has swirls in it and others have bubbles, or seeds. Sometimes older glass is a combination of the two.
By far, the costliest type of glass you’ll have to replace is curved glass that you find in antique china cabinets that have curved glass sides. Individual panes of concave or convex glass, too, can be rather costly. Many local glass companies are happy to replace pieces for you, but they will need exact measurements.
As for telling whether or not the mirrors or glass have already been replaced, take a careful look at the apparatus that holds the mirror or glass in place. Newer looking wood blocks or strips or fresh glue are the biggest tell-tale signs. What’s more, if the mirror is plain and flat, flawless and doesn’t have a bevel, chances are good it was replaced.
While mirrors and glass can be replaced in your antique pieces, try to keep the original in place as much as you can!