Vintage advertising mirrors
Vintage advertising mirrors are promotional items, designed to advertise brands, products and companies. History
Vintage advertising mirrors date from a time when it was customary for salesmen to leave a giveaway that promoted their product.
This first became common practice in the very early 1900s, until the Great Depression sunk numerous businesses and probably made advertising trifles like these seem like an unnecessary expense.
The earliest examples were small, pocket sized mirrors, the celluloid reverse bearing a colourful advertisement. They ranged from button-sized up to paperweight size, to service either a receptionist’s handbag or a desk.
They were generally manufactured by companies such as Whitehead and Hoag, Bastian Brothers, Parisian Novelty, and The American Art Works, on behalf of the product brands. Often these companies would have a credit on the edge of the mirror.
Brands that used them included anything from food and drink manufacturers, to clothing stores and shoemakers, telephone companies, music businesses, jewellers, guns and ammunition, drug stores and sports merchandisers.
The 1930s-40s saw the development of the familiar full size bar advertising mirrors, with the brand, logo and often promotional message printed on the mirror glass rather than the reverse. These were generally used by brands of beer, whiskey, and soft drinks, though occasionally for other businesses like barbers and hardware stores.
Antique & Vintage advertising mirrors are popular collectors’ items. They are relatively inexpensive compared to some other items of antique & vintage advertising memorabilia, and many can be found for under $50.
Collectors can choose whether to focus their collections purely on the small pocket advertising mirrors, or on full size bar mirrors, or both.
They may also collect advertising mirrors for one particular brand or product, such as Coca-Cola.
As such, advertising mirrors dating from the early days of well-known brands are popular, nostalgic representations of the company’s advertising history.
However, many advertising mirrors were produced for businesses or establishments that were local, little-known, and often no longer exist. These are popular with many collectors. For example, pocket sized advertising mirrors for small town American saloons and bars are very valuable and sought after as items of Americana.
Antique & vintage advertising mirrors can be found on eBay, at second hand stores, garage sales, flea markets, and at auctions. It is worth looking to auctions that focus specifically on vintage advertising.
Bar sized advertising mirrors are subject to numerous modern reproductions. People often like having bar advertising mirrors in their homes as novelty items of decoration, so many cheap imitations are produced. Generally these will be advertised as such, and not as genuine vintage examples. However, it pays to be wary of anything that looks too pristine.
- Pemberton’s Nerve Tonic mirror, 1885, sold for $14,000 at Richard Opfer in 2012
- Pepsi-Cola 1930s advertising mirror, sold for $5,500 at Dan Morphy Auctions in 2012
- Blue front saloon pocket advertising mirror circa 1905, sold for $3,750 at Holabird-Kagin Americana in 2011
- Mohawk Club bawdy saloon mirror, circa 1910, sold for $3,500 at Holabird-Kagin American in 2010