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.
An Ornately Shaped and Engraved Brass Framed Mirror from an Antique Jewellery Box with Betjemann Patent ‘Automatic’ Mechanism by Howell, James & Co.
Antique Jewellery Box in Coromandel with Betjemann Patent ‘Automatic’ Mechanism by Howell, James & Co.
Gilt Brass Mirror Frame with Engraved and Engine Turned Decoration taken from an Asprey Antique Dressing Case.
Antique Dressing Case in Burr Walnut with Silver-Gilt / Gold Fittings by Asprey & Sons.
Gilt Brass Mirror Frame from an Antique Asprey Jewellery Box.
Asprey Antique Jewellery Box in Coromandel with Betjemann Patent Mechanism & Candlesticks.
Gilt Pierced Brass Mirror Frame with Beveled Glass from a Jenner & Knewstub Antique Dressing Case.
Gilt Brass Mirror Frame with Fretted Brass Corner Mounts taken from an Antique Burr Walnut Jewellery Box.
Antique Jewellery Box in Burr Walnut.
Gilt Brass Mirror Frame with Engraved Decoration taken from a Jenner & Knewstub Antique Dressing Case
Coromandel Antique Vanity Box by Jenner & Knewstub and James Vickery
French Brass Inlaid Easel Mirror with Mahogany Back and Brass Hinged Stand from an Antique Nécessaire de Voyage Dressing Case by Aucoc Ainé à Paris.
Antique Nécessaire de Voyage Dressing Case in Ebony with Floral Brass Inlay by Aucoc Ainé à Paris.
French Ebony Fronted Serpentine Mirror with Mahogany Back and Brass Hinged Stand.
French Antique Jewellery Box in Ebony with Brass Inlay by Alphonse Giroux & Cie, Paris.
Leather-Bound Mirror Frame with Gold Tooling and Beveled Glass taken from an Antique Asprey Jewellery Box.
Asprey Antique Jewellery Box in Coromandel.
Leather-Bound Mirror Frame taken from a Betjemann & Sons Antique Dressing Case.
A Set of Three Gilt Brass Hand Mirrors with Standard, Convex and Concave Mirror Glass, taken from a Betjemann & Sons Antique Vanity Box.
Antique Dressing Case in Coromandel with Silver-Gilt Bottles, by Betjemann & Sons.
Engraved Gilt Brass Facing Applied to a Coromandel Mirror Frame taken from a Dome Top Antique Jewellery Box.
Coromandel Dome Top Antique Jewellery Box.
Brass Inlaid Coromandel Framed Vanity Mirror with Mahogany Fretwork Stand taken from a Howell James & Co. Antique Box.
Burr Walnut Antique Jewellery Box Manufactured by Howell James & Co.
Sculpted mother of pearl handled face mirror from a Magnificent Antique Dressing Case from Asprey, Displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Magnificent Antique Dressing Case from Asprey, Displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Antique Brass Hinge with Incremental Ridges for Mirror Angle Adjustment.