Wonderful molded thermoplastic hand mirror circa late 19th century.
A thermoplastic is a kind of general term for a material with a low melting point that becomes molten when heated, solid when cooled, and can be re-melted or molded after cooling. Examples of this are gutta percha, vulcanite, and other similar materials created and used during the Victorian era for jewelry and accessories.
Although there is no maker named on this piece, it is very similar to designs by the Florence Manufacturing Company and has the same patent date (1866).
From the Museum of Design in Plastics:
Florence Compound was the invention of Alfred Critchlow (1813-1881) who was a manufacturer of horn buttons in Birmingham, England. After emigrating to the US, where he initially continued in this trade, Critchlow eventually moved to Florence, Massachusetts, where, in the 1850s, he began to experiment with moulding compounds of shellac (a resin secreted by the lac beetle) and gutta percha (a natural material derived from the Malaysian tree of the same name).
He developed a shellac-based moulding material which he named Florence Compound and used it to manufacture buttons and Union Cases (small protective cases for daguerreotype photographs), thought to be some of the first mass-produced plastic mouldings.
In 1853 Critchlow went into partnership with Samuel Hill and Isaac Parsons, but when the development of new photographic processes led to a dwindling in demand for such cases, he sold his share in the company which then took the name Littlefield, Parsons and Co. Subsequently they changed their name to the Florence Manufacturing Co. and, needing to find new uses for their moulding material, produced highly decorated hand mirrors and brush sets.
+++ Measurements +++
Approx 8" long
+++ Condition +++
Good condition overall with some minor blemishes and age-related wear. I noticed a small crack in the material. There are some minor blemishes beneath the glass.
Wooden piece holding the glass in place is not glued down. It can be removed somewhat easily and the glass will come out. Could be left as is and used carefully or the wooden piece could be glued down.
+++ Please read +++
This item is not new, and as such, it has wear commensurate with age. As with all older vintage and antique items, please handle with care.
All items are sold as-is, and I do my best to point out all condition issues and provide a detailed description and photographs.
Unless specified, items have not been cleaned.
I do not accept returns or offer refunds. Please see all photos, read the entire description, and ask any questions before purchasing.