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The Looking Glass

The looking-glasses would cost about $20 each in present money. At this date, 1639, looking-glasses were found in very few houses, even in England, though, of course, metal mirrors were common enough. There they did not come into general use until after the Restoration, in 1660. They were imported from Venice. As we shall see, the looking-glass with gilded or olive-wood frame is frequently mentioned henceforward. The olive-wood alone would show its Italian origin. Though anticipating some-what, it may be as well to note here that looking-glasses were small in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century. When they exceeded four feet in length or breadth they were made up of separate pieces, generally with gilt mouldings at the divisions. When of English make, they came from the Vauxhall factory, founded by the second Duke of Buckingham, that chemist, states-man, fiddler, and buffoon," who introduced workmen from Venice to teach the art of making plate-glass, bevelling, etc. Early examples of mirrors are plentiful, and show that the frames at the beginning of the seventeenth century were of oak, sometimes ornamented with carving and narrow bands, inlaid with small alternate light and dark squares of wood, the stand consisting of baluster-shaped uprights and claw feet. The looking-glass was sometimes fixed on the top of a chest of drawers. Besides the woods mentioned above, the looking-glass frame was sometimes formed of ebony. In 1653, we find Stephen Gill, in Virginia, in possession of one of this material.

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