Antique mirrors, like any other collectible, vary in value. In order to find the correct value for your mirror, you need to know when it was made, who made it, how common it is and, most importantly, the current market value.
1. Original or Reproduction?
The first thing any collector needs to do is to establish the mirror is, in fact, antique and not a reproduction. If you have a wood mirror, remove an inconspicuous screw. If the screw has irregular spirals, it was handmade and most likely original to that piece. Often, a homemade screw will also have an off-center head.
If you have a veneer frame, look for thick irregular layers. Modern veneer is thin and smooth, something you will not find in old mirrors. Another key to identifying old mirrors is the glass. Antique mirrors have thin, wavy glass while newer mirrors have thicker glass and less wave. Once you have taken these three aspects into account, check to see if you can find a manufacturer's mark. Such a mark will increase the value of a mirror, and will help you identify it.
2. Manufacturer or Designer Mark
A manufacturer or designer mark will help you pinpoint when and where the mirror was made. If the designer or manufacturer is well known, the market value of the mirror will increase. The age of the mirror will also increase the market value. Once you know who made the mirror and when, you can find mirrors made by the same designer, this will help you determine the rarity and market value of the piece.
3. Rarity and Market Value
If a piece is rare, the market value will rise. However, if the piece is not sought by collectors, the value will drop. The mirror is only as valuable as the highest bidder makes it. A common but popular item may bring in more revenue than a rare, unknown item.
The condition of the mirror is another very important consideration. Wear, in the form of chips and cracks, will decrease market value, no matter how popular or rare the item is. To increase the value, you may need to have the mirror restored. Take it to an antique restoration professional to ensure you will get the most for your money.
You cannot know the true value of your mirror until you find its market value. To do this, you must research. Go on eBay and see how much similar mirrors are selling for. Take your mirror to a professional appraiser. Talk to collectors to see how valued the mirror is in different circles. You will not be given a straight number. Instead, you will be given a price range.
This range will change depending on the condition and most current market price. It will also change depending on who you are trying to sell the mirror to. Antique dealers will try to buy your mirror for less than it is worth, in order to sell it at its market value. Be careful and know what you want. If you decide not to sell it, the mirror can be placed in your home and used as a conversation piece.