The inclusion of mirrors in dressing cases and vanity boxes was almost a prerequisite. Removable mirrors would be stowed in the lid of the box and with some having their own fold out stands, could be placed on a dressing table or other surface. Some boxes were fitted with incrementally ridged hinges so that the mirror’s angle of view could be adjusted without it actually needing to be removed from the lid.
These mirrors could either be concealed behind a leather-bound or velvet-lined panel, or be in full view, held in place by a spring-loaded mechanism carefully hidden within the roof lining of the lid.
Whereas the late Georgian and William IV era dressing case mirror frames tended to be somewhat plainer in appearance, the Victorian examples became more elaborate, in keeping with the design of the rest of the interior contents.
Many Victorian dressing case and vanity box mirrors were reversible so that should the mirror not be in use, it could simply be sprung forward and turned round to display a ruched or plain velvet pad instead. Often, these reversible mirror panels would conceal a leather-bound letter wallet behind, kept secure by the fact that prying eyes might not discover the hidden mirror release mechanism.
Handheld vanity mirrors were also often included in the larger dressing case and vanity box sets. Cased in ivory, mother of pearl, wood or metal, they could be stored in fitted sections on the underside of the lid (behind the larger mirror panel), in the front flaps of some drop-front design boxes, in vanity tool trays alongside other accoutrements, or simply housed in lower drawers and sections. These handheld mirrors came with three types of glass variation; standard mirror glass, convex mirror glass (to give a wider field of view) and concave mirror glass (giving a magnified view – perfect for applying make-up).
Mirror frames could be constructed from wood, metal or just the mirror glass itself with a paper or leather backing. Wooden frames were either presented in their solid state, veneered with matching or contrasting woods, brass inlaid, leather covered, or with a decorative metal facing applied. Metal frames and facings were more often manufactured from brass, but on occasion also from solid silver. These metal frames could then be simply polished up, or decorated with engraving, gilding, silver-plating, repousse or chasing work, applied metal relief work or piercing.