Mirrors – Silvering And Re-Silvering

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Mirrors - Silvering And Re-Silvering


Solution No. 1:

Nitrate of Silver (pure) . . . . . . . . 40 grains
Nitrate of Silver (pure) . . . . . . . . 32 grains
Distilled Water . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 pint
Ammonia, 26% . . . . . . . . . . . . To be used as directed.

Take one pint of distilled water, pour 4 ounces of this into a glass,
and into this put 40 grains of Nitrate of Silver. Dissolve the Nitrate of
Silver thoroughly by stirring the water with glass strip (no spoon, or stick,
or metal should be used).

When it is all thoroughly dissolved, take your medicine dropper and
drop 26% Ammonia Water into it one drop at a time; at first it will turn
dark; keep dropping the ammonia until it becomes clear again, which will
generally take about thirty drops; stopping the addition as soon as it

Very often after dropping 30 drops of Ammonia, it does not clear. In
that case stir the solution slowly with your left hand and continue dropping
the ammonia with the right hand, one drop at a time until it does clear,
which it will generally do after dropping a few more times. If after dropping
seven drops more it does not clear (which takes 37 drops in all) do not drop
any more Ammonia, as you are apt to spoil the solution.

Then add 32 grains of the Nitrate of Silver, additional. Dissolve by
stirring with your glass strip. When it is all dissolved, pour the mixture
back into the pint of water first measured out. Let it stand for one hour or
more to allow the sediment to settle on the bottom.

Then filter the solution through white blotting paper; this blotting
paper you should put into your funnel, cone-shaped so that the solution will
have to pass through it before it can enter the bottle (any druggist can show
you how to fold filter paper).

Put the funnel into the neck of the bottle and proceed to pour the
solution into the funnel. In this way the solution passes through the
blotting paper before it gets into the bottle, which is called filtering.

After the solution is filtered into the bottle it should look like
clear water. Cork bottle tightly, and keep in a cool dark place and label it
No. 1 solution.

Solution No. 2:

24 grains of Rochelle Salts
25 grains of Nitrate of Silver (pure)
1 pint of Distilled Water

Take one pint of warm distilled water and pour it into a porcelain
lined vessel, put it on the stove, and then put 24 grains of Rochelle Salts
into it, and let this boil strongly for about one minute, and then add 25
grains of Nitrate of Silver, and let it boil for five minutes longer, take it
form the stove and let it stand one hour or longer to allow the sediment to

As soon as the solution is cool it is best to pour it out of the
porcelain lined vessel into some glass vessel or other porcelain lined
vessel, as the vessel that you boiled this solution in will be quite dirty.
When it is allowed to settle in another vessel the solution will be much
clearer when you go to filter it.

You want to bottle this solution just the same way as you do the No. 1
solution and label this one No. 2 solution.

Note: This solution will boil away a little when preparing it, but do
no add any more water to it.


In the first place a clean room should be used for the work. Place the
glass on a level surface and bank the sides to prevent the solution running
off, or place in a plating bath tube. It is not necessary that you should
have a steam table in order to make good mirrors.

By having your room at a temperature of 85 to 100 degrees F and using
warm distilled water to rinse and level your glass with, you can easily get
your glass up to the temperature of 90 to 100 degrees F., which will cause
the silver to precipitate.

The glass to be silvered must be thoroughly cleaned as the least speck
of dust, grease, dirt or finer marks will show and cause you trouble. Place
wooden wedges under the corners of the glass having warm distilled water on
the glass and change the wedges under it until the water lays in an even
depth all over the glass; this is to warm the glass and get it even.

When you have the glass warm and level, raise one side or end level,
raise one side or end and gently let all the water run off, now lay the glass
gently back in the same place. Then pour No. 1 and No. 2 Silvering solutions
into your traduate glass or glass pitcher in equal parts; stir them as
quickly as possible with your glass strip, and then pour them onto the glass
by first starting at the centre and letting them flow out, then start at one
corner and keep going around in a circular way until the entire surface of
the glass is covered, and let the solution lay on it in an even layer.

Let the solutions stand on the glass for about 30 minutes; then tip the
glass on one corner on end and drain off the solution - drain all that will
run off; rinse the glass coating off thoroughly with distilled water, and
stand glass on one end to drain and dry. When dry apply backing paint.

If the silver coating is not heavy enough it needs a second coat, which
you can do by pouring on the solutions as you did the first coat, after the
first coat has been rinsed off with distilled water and allowed to drain for
a few minutes. Do not let the first coat get dry before putting on the second

You will get a much heavier coating of silver by putting the bottles
which contain your solutions into hot water a few minutes before you mix and
use them.


The best way to do this is by taking some polishing Rouge in powdered
form, the same as jewellers use for polishing silverware, or powdered
prepared Whiting which you can get at any drug store. Take the Rouge or
Whiting, and put into a bag of two or three thicknesses of bed ticking or
cotton flannel and sew this up; then put the bag into water to soak up.

Make a polisher by taking a piece of wood 4 by 4 inches and about 9
inches long and bore a hole in each end and near the top to take a broom
handle, the handles should be about 4 inches long on each end of your
polisher, so as to allow you a good hold.

Then get some felt about one inch thick; if possible to get - use the
felt that harness makers use for padding harness - which is about one inch
thick, as it is the best to use. Then screw the felt onto the bottom of the
polisher, with brass screws.

Be sure that the screws are counter-sunk, so that they will not come in
contact with your glass when you are polishing it and scratch it.

Once the felt is fastened on, put the polisher into water and let it
soak. When polishing and cleansing your glass all you have to do is to take
the bag from water, and squeeze a little of the Rouge or Whiting upon the
glass; then take your polisher from the water, and with both hands take the
polisher by the handles and proceed to polish the glass right to the edges.
This will take about 10 minutes. When glass is polished, rinse off with
distilled water until it is perfectly clean.

To make good mirrors you want to use a good grade of glass. The German
or American Plate, either double or single, are the best cheaper grades to
use, as they are well polished and free form defects. If your local dealer
does not handle this glass he can easily get it for you.

The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., 622 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA
is a very good firm to do business with. They have branch offices in most all
the larger cities - see classified phone book.


The very best backing paint that you can use is made by taking equal
parts of White Demer Varnish and Asphaltum Varnish and mixing. If it is too
heavy to work freely, add a little turpentine.

Apply this paint to the silver coating as soon as it is dry, with a
camel's hair brush as lightly as possible - as the silver coating can easily
be rubbed off. One coat is enough, but if you wish to apply a second coat you
can do so before the first coat gets thoroughly dry.


For removing old backing paint, take strong lye and put it in a little
water, and pour this on the old paint while the mirror is in a level position;
and let it stand until the paint becomes soft; then take a small mop and mop
it up.

Sometimes the paint is a little hard to remove, in which case you can
take a strong piece of cardboard and scrape it off by grasping the cardboard
in both hands, and pushing forward with enough pressure to cause the
cardboard to go between the paint and the glass.

Another way is to buy a can of Boston or other kind of paint and
varnish remover, and use according to directions. If the silver still sticks
to the glass, pour undiluted nitric acid on it and let stand until the back
can easily be removed with a mop or rag. Then clean your glass as directed.


These mirrors, although new to the public at the present time - are old
to manufacturers, having been made and installed in designated places several
years ago. These can be made in any one of three ways.

(1) The ordinary mirroring solution is diluted from 50% to 75% with
distilled water.

(2) In making the mirroring solution use 1/2 to 3/4 less Silver Nitrate
and Rochelle Salts, but do not reduce the amount of water used.

(3) The ordinary mirroring solution is used but let it set to deposit
only half as long as you do ordinary mirroring, and pour off the balance of
the water. If a mirror is placed under the glass that is being silvered, on
an angle, the reflections of the results of precipitation will be clearly
shown and you can tell when to discard the water on the glass and also note
the transparency.

When silvered, if held up to the face, it can be looked through from
the front, seeing everything in front of it clearly, but to anyone on the
other side or front of the mirror, it looks like just an ordinary mirror
showing their image and they are unable to see your features at the back.

When silvering is dry, varnish with good transparent spar varnish,
using a thin coat with a soft haired brush. Collodion thinned with acetone is
also used for backing. If either of these can be put on with a spray gun it
will be much better and danger of scratching on the thin coat of silver is
reduced or eliminated altogether.

For greater safety and durability, place a glass of the same size over
the mirror back. This can be held in a frame with quarter round or smaller
stock fastened with brads or long thin screws.

This type of mirror has been and still is in use in large hotels,
institutions, roadhouses, blind pigs, secret societies and lodges, night
clubs, cars, by secret police, detectives, etc. A pan of this type mirror is
placed in a panel of the front door. The visitor sees only an ordinary mirror
staring him in the face, but the one on the other side of the door can see
through it and tell who it is without being seen or opening the door.

This way many police raids on blind pigs, gambling dens, houses of
vice, etc. have been thwarted. Usually a curtain or blind is pulled down over
the glass from the inside so that patrons won't notice it and talk out of


Pour upon a sheet of tin foil three drams of quicksilver to the square
foot of foil. Rub smartly with a piece of buckskin until the foil becomes
brilliant. Lay the glass upon a flat table face downward, place the foil upon
the damaged portion of the glass, lay a sheet of paper over the foil, and
place upon it a block of wood or a piece of marble with a perfectly flat
surface, put upon it sufficient weight to press it down tight; let it remain
in this position a few hours. The foil will adhere to the glass.

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