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Thursday, 9 June 2022

The Mirror


I recently mentioned this 1966 photograph in a post about objects in the background of old photographs, and how evocative they can be. On the wall is a round mirror.

That mirror forms part of my earliest memories. It must be at least eighty years old, possibly a lot more. I never thought to ask about its origins. It was in the main room where we lived until I was six, then in the house after that as pictured. I looked in it to see what the school dentist had done to my teeth, for marks on my face after being attacked by Modern School bullies, at teenage spots and scratches, and at the awful short back and sides inflicted by the barber. Why couldn’t I have a Beatles cut? It followed my parents through each house move until, in emptying my dad’s bungalow fifteen years ago, it came to rest in out loft.

One side-effect of steroids I was recently prescribed (thankfully a reducing dose, now ended) was to generate intense bursts of physical energy lasting several hours. It does not make you popular at four in the morning. You also become very focussed, decisive and ruthless - even nasty at times. I don’t really recommend it, but it does mean your get lots of things done: such as sorting out the clutter in the loft.  


Here is the mirror now, and very nice it is too. I remember being fascinated by the magnifying mirrors-within-a-mirror effect created by the decorative pattern.

The mirror hangs by a sturdy metal chain affixed to a solid wooden backing which makes it rather heavy. I would be concerned it might damage or fall off the wall. We have no use for it now. We took it to a local charity which has a shop in Denby Dale. They were delighted. I hope they get a really good price for it.

37 comments:

  1. The mirror forms part of my earliest memories. I like that paragraph in particular. It's good how it reflects your memories Tasker. Hope you make a speedy recovery.

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    1. Thankyou NS. I distinctly remember using it for the purposes listed but suppose I must have looked in it just about every day to comb my hair and so in. I was a constant in my parents' home for all their married life.

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  2. I hope that mirror finds a good home. It deserves to be loved.
    Sorry to hear you have required steroid treatment. It is not very pleasant. Like northsider Dave, may I add my very best wishes for your recovery.

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    1. Looking on ebay, they should get at least £50. It will look great in the right kind of house.

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  3. Bit of roid rage, eh? That's one of the bad side effects alright. Sorry to hear you were not allowed to have a Beatles cut! Do you have enough hair to get one now? If so, indulge yourself!

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    1. Not so much rage, more impatience through wanting to get on with things - cutting people off when they went into long unnecessary sidetracks rather than getting on to say what they actually wanted to say, that kind of thing. Sadly, a Beatles cut would not be possible now, but I would be fascinated to see yours they you next have one.

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  4. I remember such a mirror at home when I was young - heavy because of its wooden backing and with chains for hanging rn the wall.

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    1. You have to make sure they are securely anchored in the brick wall and not just on plaster or plasterboard.

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  5. Tasker. How very odd but your memory jogged my own. My parents had a round mirror as well. It had a laurel pattern arched around the top. I forgot it, but remembered it after seeing your picture. It hung in our living room with the flowered wallpaper.

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    1. I am really pleased that my this mirror reminded reminded you of the one you had. Do you remember looking in it? Did you like what you saw? I'm not all that sure that I did.

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    2. I was too small to use it, I couldn't see myself in it. I just remember where it hung, when I saw yours. Ours was pretty large. I don't remember not liking what I saw before I was seven, but at some point, I did really begin to hate what I saw in the mirror. I always felt self conscious and grotesque as a teenager, ashamed of everything about myself. Now, I try my best to ignore me.

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    3. Body image and self-esteem issues - although of course there no such things existed in those days.

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  6. All my childhood mirrors were heavy as hell. I only have one left. The glass needs reglazed, but another generation can make that decision.

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    1. There's something very satisfying about a proper mirror rather than these awful thin and plastic ones you get these says, except I have to concede that the modern ones are a lot safer.

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  7. This was a big step for you or at least it would be for me. I am trying to get myself in the state of mind to part with items that hold a lifetime of memories like your mirror. It's not always easy but what you did will help others. Maybe a young family will buy it and their son will form his own memories of that mirror. I hope you are well Tasker.

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    1. I am finding it easier to dispose of things that none of my own family want by photographing and writing about them. In a way, you then still have them without taking up the space. I've got quite a few more to write about.

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  8. Mirrors reflect the opposite back, I can never quite get my head around that. Style dates your mirror, along with the memories I had one of those funny oval Edwardian mirrors that appears on dressing tables but instead of sideways I used to hang it longwise, it is here in my daughter's house. I hope you are getting better and not getting too energetic clearing the loft out.

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    1. Yes, left and right reverse but up and down don't! You have to think about how the light waves bounce back, but it still seems counter-intuitive. On ebay there are very similar ones described as art deco. My parents were married in 1946 but I don't know whether they bought it then or got it from a relative. I suspect it came from a relative like all the rest of their (and every one else's) furniture in 1946.

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  9. The mirror's design looks like it is from the 1920s or 30s, I would guess. It is a beautiful piece and I am sure the charity shop will get a good price for it. Then, as Bonnie says, it will hopefully go into a home where it will become part of someone's memories all over again.

    All the best for your health, Tasker. It sounds scary, having one's moods etc. so influenced by medication.

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    1. Thanks. I think I'm OK for now. Looking on ebay, similar mirrors are described as art deco, so you could be right. See reply to Thelma.

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  10. It is a nice mirror but I would be concerned about it falling off a wall too. I hope it finds a good safe home.

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    1. I'm sure our loft is heaving a sigh of relief. Lots of other things up there to write about too. I mentioned above, similar on ebay are £50 to £100.

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  11. Sell for quite a lot I think. We have my grandmother's dressing table mirror attached to our hallway wall. This is the fifth wall it has been screwed to.

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    1. Unfortunately, we'll never know what they get, but they have someone with a very good knowledge of what things are worth so they won't give it away cheap to some smart alec dealer.

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  12. I was fascinated by convex mirrors when I was a kid. Van Eyck may have been to blame.

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  13. We had one mirror that was a constant in our living room and when the room was re-wallpapered great care and planning always took place about where the mirror would rest while off the wall, as if it were the crown jewels although basically fairly ornate it was probably worthless. Then occasionally it would get a lick of paint from my one of my brother's kit aeroplane paint kits. Later in the 1970s when we had all left home and mum was on her own and becoming a bit more modern so to speak she moved the mirror to an outhouse which is where we found it a few years ago. It went off to a houseclearer. Nobody wanted it although it was almost part of us but a part we didn't want anymore of. I note the reference to medication, hope you are on the mend.

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    1. Thanks. Hopefully, I am.
      Was it worthless? My cousin was remembering only this week how, when her parents took over our grandfather's house, one of the first things they did was to replace the old oak furniture with new. It was dark and ugly, but would probably be worth a fortune now. I think people wanted a fresh start after the war.

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    2. No idea, it seemed worthless to us although it was an unusual shape. We got a fair deal on a lot of individual bits so if he made a bit on the mirror good luck to him. Swings and roundabouts.

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  14. Oooh, I'd buy that mirror. I'm tempted to drive to Denby Dale!

    What is that cat doing in the picture? It looks like it's carrying a playing card.

    Steroids are tough to deal with. I've never been on them (yet) but my brother has and he said he was hungry all the time. Gained some weight.

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    1. https://www.ddc.org.uk/charity-shop but there are similar on ebay. Don't know whether they still have it. They would look great in the right house.
      Cat is charing a ball under a playing card pyramid - see recent post "Bright in the Background"
      Steroids are not too bad for limited periods. Yes, I've been eating loads as well, but I need to gain weight so that's good.

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  15. I have sometimes wondered, and more often so lately, how long one needs to hold onto something that represents another life lived before feeling ok to let it go. My brother is storing my late mother's taonga, but they aren't necessarily things that are highly prized by us, the next generation. They are linked to memories, as is your mirror, but beyond us they mean nothing to anyone other than for their intrinsic value as objects, decorative or functional, fashionable or not....

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    1. I've concluded that if they are meaningful only to us and not the next generation, then photographs and writing preserves most of them sufficiently well for us to continue to enjoy, especially if we don't constantly get them out to look at them. If someone has to throw them away one day, then best we do it ourselves rather than leaving it to others. That doesn't apply to everything, but it does to a lot of things.

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  16. The mirror is beautiful, Tasker.
    I have two English mirrors: one in Berlin, one in Bavaria - (not round, Art Deco), and with very heavy chains and very heavy wooden plates. They stay on the wall (fixed with wall plugs)

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    1. I was slightly reluctant to let it go but you can't keep everything. Many of our walls are plasterboard so it would have needed careful fixing.

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  17. We once had a large oval-shaped mirror (hung longways) in the hall of all four houses we'd then lived in, up until around 1980 or '81. That was when my parents sold it to one of those door-to-door 'antique dealers' (crooks) for next-to-nothing. To me, it was part of the family and had been around for at least as long as I had, and I've missed it ever since. Part of it can be seen in an old photo, which I look at it from time-to-time - just to remember. It's strange to realise that it's now been gone for at least twice as long as it was there. I don't think I could give anything away that I'd had as long as you had your mirror. To me, it would be like giving away one of my children (if I had any).

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    1. I know what you mean, but the mirror was something I saw day to day only until the age of around 18, so for more than 50 years it has been simply an object in my parents' house, dad's house and loft. I haven't missed it so far.

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