What Were the First Mirrors?
Probably the first mirror was the surface of a quiet pond. Our earliest ancestors must have noticed that they could see themselves in still water. The mirrors of ancient Egyptians and Greeks were made of polished metal.
They scratched very easily. The first mirrors, from around 400 B.C., were very simple. They were polished surfaces from natural materials that could reflect an image. After awhile, people started making mirrors from copper, bronze, gold and silver.
These metals are heavy, so the mirrors were very small. They couldn’t really be used to see a reflection so they were mostly for show. About 600 years ago, the craftsmen of Venice began making such good glass mirrors that people stopped using metal ones.
These glass mirrors could show a clearer image. Artists even used mirrors to paint self-portraits. They were still very expensive so only the rich could afford them.
The process for making modern mirrors was developed in 1835. The type of mirror we use most today is a sheet of glass with a very thin coat of silver on the back. The silver reflects the light. The glass protects the soft metal from scratches and tarnish.