I know, she doesn't look like much now--but just wait.
Thursday started off as just an ordinary day--planned to go to my auction, then up to work and then off to acupuncture. I had not previewed the auction--I have not one extra inch of space, Roberto and I barely squeezed the sofa in--so I truly did not anticipate purchasing anything. For the first half hour or so nothing seemed to be very appealing; and then my antena started moving around. Up in the less pricey section I spot what appeared to be a 19th c. Dutch/Flemish style mirror, but in ridiculous condition: the black had been painted over with a silly aqua and the molding around the edge had been stripped, but I felt if I could buy her at the right price and put a hundred or so into her restoration it would be a good buy. I had to struggle to get the bid and almost decided not to continue, but I listened to that voice and went for the bid.
The pictures above are what she looked like (not very good); and she was expensive for a 19th c. mirror in that condition...I was kicking myself for buying her.
But look at her identical twin that I found in restored condition on 1stdibs.com--the exact size, also.
When I bought the mirror, I didn't have time to check her out thoroughly, but with a quick glance at the backing and judging from the uncommon dimensions, I thought it was a 19th century copy of a late 17th century baroque Dutch or Flemish mirror.
When I picked the mirror up this morning, I was able to carefully assess the details. When judging antique pieces, many times the most information is gathered from the back of the piece, this is especially true for chests of drawers and other case pieces and mirror and picture frames.
Look at the thick hand hewn timber wood on the back of the frame, the old worm holes, and of great importance, the hand forged hooks are retained together with the original hand forged nails. (Notice how some one has screwed the new hooks into the opening of the original hooks.) On more careful inspection, I could see square holes where additional hand forged nails had once been.
Now let's look at the front of the frame: the frame itself is about 4-5 inches in depth, projecting from the wall (that's a lot); there are several levels of carved molding which when combined with the banded figured walnut strips give a total frame width of about 7.5 inches. These details all are good indications of a period frame. The next detail to consider is the overall condition of the frame--this one definitely needs some help (and luckily for me the condition hid the truth of the piece pretty well as there was only one other bidder who recognized the mirror), but this degraded condition is also a good indicator of age. The final detail is the mirror plate itself. Unfortunately, this piece has a replaced mirror plate (very sad face); the 1stdibs mirror appears to have retained its original 17th century beveled mirror plate which does increase the value of the mirror.
Fortunately, the beautiful walnut banding is in good condition and apparently retains its original finish. There is one small section of veneer loss that has a centuries old restoration which I will leave as is as I think that this old restoration adds character to the mirror.
Roberto in coming the first week of September to start work on this beauty. He will remove the paint from the moldings--hopefully retaining the original ebonizing (carefully taping out the walnut banding); fill the worm holes; re-ebonize the moldings and then we will put in a new 3/4" beveled mirror plate to be historically correct. I am only going to use hard paste wax on the walnut banding as it is beautiful with its old patina.
I'll be updating the mirror's progress from Plain Jane to Bombshell in a couple of weeks.
To check out the 1stdibs.com listing enter "dutch mirror" in the search window. (I do believe serendipity was in play yesterday)
Mini is once again calling me, holding my hand and not letting me work; so it's off to bed.
I am so grateful that our cool SC weather has returned as I was about to check out moving to Maine.
Have a wonderfully serendipitous next-to-the-last week-end of summer.
Mary and Jones (and Mini)