February 23, 1852

Looking glass

Monday 23d Feb 1852  Worked about the house this forenoon

dusted the chambers and washed around the

windows &  doors.  Susan washed the dishes. Am

trying to have her learn to knit, improves some

but rather slowly  This afternoon have been mending

some and have put one new sleeve into my

blue & orange Delaine  The looking glass came

out from Boston to night

We might call it a mirror, but Evelina and most of her contemporaries called her new purchase a looking glass. (Think of “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,” Lewis Carroll’s 1871 sequel to his 1865 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”) Like the framed prints Evelina had recently bought for her walls, the looking glass was a fashionable piece of decor. She must have been tickled to have one hanging in her parlor.

New “methods of mass-producing large, flat panes of glass had been perfected and, by combining them with heatless, chemical-coating technologies,”* mirrors had become easy to manufacture – and affordable.  At mid-century they became stylish and ubiquitous, symbolic of the new taste and purchasing power of the middle class. In a home like Evelina’s which, 50 years earlier, might have boasted no more than a small, courting-type mirror, a big, new looking glass, hung on braided silk roping from molding above it, had become de rigeur.

Other than this exciting upgrade in the parlor, today was a Monday like any other. Jane McHanna did the laundry, Susie Ames washed the breakfast dishes, and Evelina took to her needlework.  She was teaching her daughter to knit.

 

*Wikipedia, Mirrors, accessed February 19, 2015.

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