Uses of Precious Metals Series: Episode 7 – Silver in Mirrors

Uses of Precious Metals Series: Episode 7 – Silver in Mirrors

Silver In Mirrors

Before the reliable production of glass, mirrors were made by polishing sheet metal to a fine finish, the properties of the metal that is easily hammered to a flat finish make it ideal for such applications however the poor quality of the reflective surface obtained left much to be desired.

With the advent of glass production in the region of North Africa and ancient Egypt around the year 3000 BCE attention turned to adding a finish to the glass mainly for decorative purposes.  It took almost until the 16th century for the process of adding coating to the glass to be perfected and in the 16th century European glass mirrors were first coated with a mixture of tin and mercury to create a reflective finish. It took until the 19th century for the process of silver coating to be applied to glass mirrors.

Today many household mirrors are coated using silver however despite having the greatest surface reflectivity aluminium coatings are used for precision instruments such as telescopes as they reflect a greater portion of the light spectrum enabling more information to be collected for the time used.

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