If the back panel is wood, make sure it is consistent with the purported age of the frame. It should have a solid board or several boards nailed in place to make the panel. Again, the nails are important. Midth century nails are different from midth century nails, so new nails are a big clue. So are the nail holes. A second set of holes or holes of the wrong shape or size could mean the panel has been removed and the mirror replaced or re-silvered.
Then take a look at how the mirror itself is held in place in the frame. Most older mirrors are held in by triangular-shaped blocks that were glued in place with the point of the triangle facing in toward the frame and the base of the triangle sticking out toward the back panel. Look for evidence of the blocks having been moved and re-glued or re-nailed.
Many repair people, professionals and amateurs alike, will not even fool with the old triangular glue blocks. Finally, examine the glass itself. Is the color clear, or does it have a greenish tint? Check the number of seeds or imperfections and the clarity of individual panes of glass. Glass-making techniques from different periods leave distinctive patterns of distortion in the glass.
If you know the patterns, you can tell the age of the glass. Glass made prior to the 19th century was called crown glass, made by spinning a disk of molten glass until it was basically flat. Crown glass has a circular swirl pattern in it from the spinning motion. But in the 19th century, the technique was changed to cylinder glass made by swinging a blown bubble of molten glass rather than spinning it.
Swinging the glass produced a cylinder, which was cooled, scored down one side and reheated. As it reheated it laid itself out in a flat sheet. See the cylinder glass making video at the bottom of the page. Cylinder glass has an evenly distributed, mottled, dimply distortion pattern. Early 20th-century glass was pulled from the kiln and passed between iron rollers to flatten it. That produced parallel wavy lines of distortion in old clear glass.
The Stairway Manufacturers' Association, , provides a pictorial guide to the stair and railing portion of the International Residential Code. Beaver Board and Upson Board: History and Conservation of Early Wallboard, Shelby Weaver, APT Bulletin, Vol. What Style Is It?: A Guide to American Architecture , Rev. Allen Chambers, Wiley; Rev Sub edition October 6, , ISBN Also see our Book Reviews - InspectAPedia. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material. Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.
Antique Doorknob Identification
How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture
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