A Very Good George III Mahogany Gentleman’s Shaving Mirror c.1820


Origin: English
Period: Early Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1810-25
Height: 17 inches
Width: 10.75 inches (the mirror)
Diameter: 11 inches (the base)

The George III period mahogany gentleman’s shaving mirror having a circular adjustable bevelled plate, turned column and draught turned base with brass fitments, stamped J.C & S, survives from the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

The condition is fair to good. There is an old crack to the turned base running from one side to the other but the piece remains stable, there is some slight movement to this top section. There is another much smaller crack near to edge whilst the mirror plate is in good order and the whole in nice original condition with a simply outstanding colour and patination to the mahogany. We have given her a light wax and she has super character. The adjustment screws are all in tact and operational and we have lubricated these. The stamped mark of J.C&S may well stand for J Cook & Son of Birmingham.

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.

A piece of real quality Georgian mahogany that can slip into and sing in any contemporary interior with consummate ease, and help one possess noble characteristics such as the perpendicular face, prominent nose and, perhaps, that majestic beard.