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Here's an article to fill a gap in our collective education. The June 1949 "Handbag Buyer" provided an illustrated guide to how mirrors are made! (pages 60-61)

How Mirrors Are Made
A HANDBAG BUYER picture story of the many processes that turn clear glass into sparkling mirrors for handbags and travel accessories

BY MILT KRISTT

"The production of fine mirrors—the kind that goes into better travelling cases, accessories and handbags, is an art that requires years of skill and know-how. At American Mirror Works, where the photographs on these pages were taken, mirrors are made with extreme care under the watchful and experienced eye of Barnet Ashenfarb, who has been in the business of making mirrors for more than two score years.
Founder of American Mirror Works in 1917, Mr. Ashenfarb's contact with producing mirrors started twelve years before. By dint of hard work the business grew, and last spring the plant was moved to new, larger quarters at 88 Lincoln Avenue, the Bronx. The new space will accommodate the increased demand for their product.
Assisting in the operation of the factory are his three sons, Henry, Sam and Sidney. Henry is sales manager, Sam is the production man and Sidney the maintenance man. There are about 40 people employed, most of whom have been with the firm for a number of years.
Containing over 20,000 square feet, double the space at the old location, the plant boasts many machines of original design. Some methods, too, original with American, have helped add to the reputation of the firm. These factors, plus the use of quality chemicals and materials, provide for brighter and longer-lasting mirrors.

"Sidney Ashenfarb mixes chemicals to make silver solution used to coat the glass. Reducing agents (foreground) are carefully weighed. Water distiller at rear left."

"Glass panels are unpacked just before being sent to be cleaned of factory grease, roughed, coated with special sensitizer that permits adherence of silver solution."

"Pouring silver solution on glass is next in making mirrors. Glass is conveyed via roller through 75-foot chamber to reduce metallic elements to glass."

"Glass emerges after long trip through chamber as mirrors. Excess silver solution is poured off and mirrors are placed in rack behind operator for long drying period."

"After silver solution has dried enough back of mirrors are given protective coatings. From this 24-hour drying rack (above), panels are taken to be cleaned and polished."

"After mirrors are cut into long narrow strips, they are distributed to operators, above, who with special hand machines cut out anything from an oval to a half-moon."

"To assure perfect edges on the "specials" another hand operation is required. Here beveling wheels smooth out rough spots. Machines are employed for standard work."

"Final O.K. is given by Henry Ashenfarb and his father, Barnet, before shipment. Founded 31 years ago, American just moved into newer quarters with double old space."

"Last step in production of mirrors is packing, shipping. Sam Ashenfarb helps girls pack mirrors in envelopes for shipment to travel bag and handbag manufacturers."


Location June 1949:
American Mirror Works
88 Lincoln Ave.
Bronx 54, N.Y.

Solving Mirror Problems since 1918

Mirrors made by specialist manufacturers like American Mirror Works were used by many handbag companies and retailers. Sometimes the only mark on a bag will be the logo of the bag maker or retailer on the mirror that was included with the handbag.

Display ad "Handbag Buyer" June 1949, page 70

January 1954 Handbags & Accessories, page 78 illustrates a variety of mirror shapes available from American Mirror Works, then a division of Barnet Mirror Co. of New York.

January 1954 Handbags & Accessories, page 9 is a full page display ad with logos from many bags makers that used their Mongram Mirrors!


Categories: Materials

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Page last modified on October 11, 2006, at 11:13 AM