A Good Late 19thC Ebonised Gentleman’s Shaving Mirror c.1880

Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1880-1900
Height: 14.5 inches
Mirror Diameter: 9 inches (with frame)
Base Width: 4.75 inches

The Victorian period ebonised gentleman’s shaving mirror having a circular adjustable plate with ripple moulded frame, shaped brass column with iron vertical adjusting fitment and octagonal turned and weighted base, survives from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The condition is pretty good, the whole in sound operating condition with an established patination to the brass. There is some light spotting to the mirror plate. The adjustment screw and nut is in tact and operational. The ebonisation of the frame is possibly later, carried out in the twentieth century.

By the mid-eighteenth century, facial hair fell dramatically from favour as the face of the polite gentleman was increasingly clean-shaven. The arrival of the newly-invented cast steel enabled razor-makers to produce ever sharper (and indeed blemish-free) blades, rendering shaving more comfortable, and razors more durable and capable of re-sharpening. Shaving the face evinced neatness and elegance, and notionally separated the gentleman from the unkempt yokel whilst shaving the head prepared it for the wearing of a wig – an expression of gentlemanliness, masculinity and taste.

The early nineteenth century saw the development of the famous Sheffield straight razor, which resembles the straight razors used today. At the time this shaving mirror was crafted there was also a boom in the world of shaving related cosmetics as many perfumers and chemists began to manufacture soaps and creams specifically designed to aid in the shaving process. Published in 1833, The Young Man’s Guide offered advice for men coming of age on various facets of life and recommended the use of cold, not hot water, for shaving.

Versatility here is key.