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20. ROMAN TINNED BRONZE MIRROR

A fine Roman bronze mirror. C. 1st - 2nd Century A.D. This type where the mirror section has been coated on both sides with a thin layer of tin, presumably to give a more realistic reflection. The back of the mirror is decorated with concentric lines and the often-found central 'nipple'. Approximately 70% of the tin surface remains intact and still provides a reflection. The remainder shows areas of oxidisation of both the bronze and tin, some pitting and light scratching but otherwise intact and stable. The front of the mirror is heavily oxidised with areas of green copper carbonate (malachite) and the underlying red/brown cuprous oxide layer exposed. Here approximately 10% of the tin surface remains. You can see areas where the underlying bronze has been exposed, presumably by ancient cleaning/polishing, which has no doubt helped to accelerate the deterioration of this surface. In both respects though, this adds to the appeal of what is of course a rare and beautiful item. The handle is decorated with a teardrop design and a curving dot decoration. This reminds me of the decoration you see on some late Iron Age mirrors, almost a La Tene or Celtic design? It certainly has a provincial quality about it. The design would have been engraved using a fine bladed tool (like a small chisel) to cut into the bronze surface. Very unusual and extremely attractive. Some small areas of oxidisation, but for the most part in extremely good condition.


Condition: As described above. This is a top-quality piece with attractive patination. Handle re-attached.

Please note: I have treated the bronze to stabilise the metal, gently polished the reflective tin surfaces and applied Renwax where appropriate to both enhance and preserve the metal.

Dimensions: Length: 22.8 cms. Mirror diameter: 13.6 cms.

Provenance: Ex. Private collection, UK; acquired at UK auction.

Price: SOLD

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