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History of Bathroom Mirrors

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How bathroom mirrors came about?

You need to investigate history of mirrors as well as of glass. Letís start with history of glass.

Manís first discovery of glass was naturally occurring glass, such as Obsidian stone. Man-made glass is believed to have dated back to about 3000 BC.

In Egypt glass beads have been discovered going back to about 2500 BC, but it isnít known whether the Egyptians themselved made them or whether they bought them from traders from other countries.

After that, colored glass mosaic pieces were made.

It wasnít until the 1st century BC that the art of glass blowing was invented. This form of glass was in use for centuries. In medieval times window panes were made by spinning molten blobs of glass on a rod so that the centrifugal force spun the glass out into a flat disc.

The wealthy people had small panes cut from the outer and more clear glass, while the poor people and shop keepers bought the cheaper center pieces with the remains of the Ďblobí for their windows. These discs cut into panes must have been made into the very first mirrors, although not at that stage bathroom mirrors.

During the 15th century the Venetians became the world experts in the manufacture and export of all sorts of glass products.

At the beginning of the 20th century the methods of mass producing sheet glass was invented and window glass as well as bathroom mirrors became much more affordable.

History of Mirrors

Long before the first bathroom, the mirrors were discovered. The earliest reflective surfaces that could be used as mirrors were quiet pools of water.

Greek mythology tells us of Narcissus, who was so beautiful that he couldnít stop admiring his reflection in a pond of still water. Eventually the gods looking down from Olympus got so tired of him that they turned him into a daffodil, another name for narcissus.

It is speculated that in earliest times water may have been kept in a vessel or hollow stone for use as a looking glass.

The oldest man-made mirrors found in architectural excavations were in Turkey, and dated about 6000 BC. These were of a naturally occurring volcanic glass, called Obsidian. They were polished until they were reflective enough to use as mirrors.

Other polished stone mirrors dating back to 2000 B.C. have been found in the region of the early South American civilizations.

Copper mirrors, polished to a highly reflective finish were discovered in Mesopotamia dating back to about 4000 BC.

Similar mirrors were found in Egypt dating back to about 3000 BC.

In China highly polished bronze mirrors have been discovered dating back to about 2000 BC.

Polished silver was later also used. Mirrors were also known in India, as evidenced by early artworks.

During the middle ages, European and Arabic scientists began to experiment with curved, concave, convex and various shaped mirrors and their effects on light deflection.

The discovery of the superior reflectability of glass backed with a coating of metal is believed to have happened in the Middle East during the 1st century AD.

The Romans were early users of both the bathroom and mirrors. Pliny who was a 1st century Roman author mentions glass backed with gold leaf for use as mirrors. It is believed that molten lead was also used for a rather inferior, but certainly cheaper mirror.

It is believed that Spain may have produced the first mirrors made of clear glass, and Venice quickly caught on and began to produce their famous glass products as well as mirrors using a backing of mercury and tin, which was very successful, but still an expensive luxury.

The poisonous nature of mercury was also a problem. During the middle of the 19th century the process of silvering the backs of the glass was discovered in Germany. This was a suitable process for mass production, and at the beginning of the 20th century when glass became cheaper to manufacture, mirrors became available to virtually everyone. This was the beginning of the plumbing era and bathrooms and bathroom mirrors were no longer unusual.

Today bathroom mirrors are made of clear glass coated with aluminum or silver that is chemically treated with tin, copper and a catalyst. These are added to help the silver or aluminum to adhere to the glass, and to harden it, and improve durability. Normally the backing is covered with a protective coat of paint.

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