How, and when, were mirrors invented?

The history of mirrors dates back to ancient times when mankind first saw reflections in a pond or river, and considered it magic.

At first, polished stone or metal was used in the early man-made mirrors. Later, glass was used in combination with metals like tin, mercury, and lead. Today, combining glass and metal is still the method used in almost all modern mirrors.

The tow-way mirror was originally called the ‘transparent mirror’. There is a silver coating on the glass of a two-way mirror, which, when applied to the back of the glass, renders the glass opaque and reflective on its face under ordinary light conditions.

People probably first started to look at their reflections in pools of water, streams and rivers which were the first mirrors. The earliest man made mirrors were from polished stone and mirrors made form black volcanic glass obsidian. Some examples of this kind of mirrors have been found in Turkey dating back at least 6000 years. The Ancient Egyptians used polished copper to produce mirrors, and often the round face of the mirror would be embellished with ornamentation. The Ancient Mesopotamians also produced polished metal mirrors and mirrors made from polished stone were known in Central and South America from about 2000 BC. In China mirrors began to be made from metal alloys, a mixture of tin and copper called speculum metal that could be highly polished to made a reflective surface as well as mirrors made of polished bronze. Metal alloys or precious metals mirrors were very valuable items in ancient times only affordable to the very wealthy.

It is believed that mirrors made of metal-backed glass this type of mirror was first produced in Lebanon in the first century AD and the Romans made crude mirrors from blown glass with lead backings.

The silvered-glass mirrors found throughout the world today first got their start in Germany almost 200 years ago.

In 1835, German chemist Justus von Liebig developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of clear glass. This technique was soon adapted and improved upon, allowing for the mass production of mirrors.