About Cape Mirrors

James learned to hand-silver mirrors as a student in 1995.

After completing his studies he moved to London for several years where he worked in the architecture and interiors industry.

During this time James discovered that authentic-looking reproduction antique mirrors were, for the most part, unavailable in the UK. Decorators had to either purchase real antique mirrors at huge expense, or put up with gaudy, faux antique mirrors that came off assembly lines by the sheetload from Europe.

He decided to find a way to make his silvering look as though it had aged naturally over time. Through trial and error he worked out a unique chemical method of distressing and tarnishing his mirrors. By 2006 he was convinced that he had created a look and feel that was natural, elegant and convincing. He called this "Light Distressed Antique Mirror".

Cape Mirrors opened for business in Cape Town that same year. Business increased steadily and by 2012 his Light Distressed Antique Mirrors found themselves gracing the walls, doors and furniture of one of South Africa's most famous historic buildings: Vergelegen.

Since those early days James has created several more methods of making mirrors appear naturally aged. We welcome you to our website and are delighted to present the most beautiful, hand-silvered antique mirrors available in South Africa.


The following antique mirror finishes are available in South Africa

Light Distress
Light Distressed Antique Mirrors are calm, soft and subtly toned. They are ideal for large surfaces in classical interiors, especially if broken up into simple panel arrangements. The distressing is cloudy, smoky and atmospheric. The colour consists of warm greys. The reflection is bright and clear. Can be silvered for diamond-pattern installation by special arrangement.

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Heavy Distress
Heavily Distressed Antique Mirrors are powerful, dramatic and striking. They are ideal for interiors where a strong visual statement is required. Excellent for splashbacks. The distressing is is dark and granular, even black in places. Colouration is blackish, with blue-grey overtones. The reflection is very dark.

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Vintage Antique
Vintage Antique Mirrors are made to look like old silver mirrors that have aged naturally. They are very graceful, with scratches, tears and blotches in the silver. This antiquing process is applied sparingly to edges only. The colour is silver, with black and brownish tones in the antiquing. Reflection is bright.

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Fossil Antique Mirrors are eccentric, rich, complex and quirky. The distressing consists of patterned florettes and wrinkles in the silver. Colour is warm, with sepia, golds and brownish tones coming through the fossiling. The reflection is bright.

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Bronze Tint
Any of the above distressing techniques can be applied to bronze tinted glass or grey tinted glass. Shown is Fossil Antiquing in bronze.

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Light Distress
Heavy Distress
Cape Mirrors Vintage effect
Bronze Tint


Regret Cape Mirrors no longer silvers convex mirrors

Convex Mirror



May 2018

The following prices are for 4mm PAR (polished edge) antique mirrors and are intended as a guide only.
They exclude delivery and installation.

Your project may require 5,6, or 8mm antique mirrors, or mirrors with a shine-polished edge (SPAR). You may require bevelled mirrors, toughened mirrors or antique mirrors with cut-outs, holes, additional shaping or drilling. All these factors have cost implications. Contact us for a detailed quote.

Sample packs can be purchased at a cost of R200.00
A pack consists of four mirrors measuring 250 x 250mm showing each of the main styles of antique mirror available. Bronze tint and grey tinted samples are available on request.

Frequent Asked Questions


How Do We Do It?

We silver plate onto clear glass by hand. We use no machinery, no compressors or electroplating baths. The process is sometimes arduously slow, especially in warm weather. During the silvering process (which is simply a series of chemical reactions) we apply our unique antiquing methods. The mirror is frequently checked from the face side to make sure that we've got the antiquing just right. If we're not happy with the result, we start over. Once we're satisfied, the silver gets backed with a tough, protective layer of copper and dried. Finally the copper is painted with two coats of hard-wearing backing paint. Our antique mirrors are the real thing, made from scratch. We don’t ever strip the backing paint off commercial mirrors and tarnish the underlying silver with acids and suchlike.

How are the edges treated?

All of our mirrors start out as huge sheets of float glass. This is then cut to size and the edges are polished (PAR) or shine-polished (SPAR)and then cleaned. The prepared glass is then sent to us for antique silvering.

How about bevelling and drilling?

Bevelling, drilling, shaping and cut-outs and are all readily available. Please remember that each treatment will have an impact on the overall price and lead time - especially bevelling.

And toughening?

Believe it or not, we also silver onto Toughened Glass, which is neat because you don't get such a thing as a toughened commercial mirror. We even get the toughening stamp placed on the thin edge of the mirror so you don't see it. Bear in mind that toughened glass has a slight wrinkle which means wrinkly reflections. Thicker toughened glass (6mm) has less wrinkles. To get around the wrinkles, you can have your antique mirror made in 6.38mm PVB Safety Glass. It's no problem to silver, and has no wrinkly reflection whatsoever.

What is the lead time?

While mirrors are often one of the last items to be installed in a project, you will still need to allow us sufficient lead time to complete your antique mirrors. Projects are completed on a first come, first serve basis. The lead time for a typical project of about 3 sqm is 4 - 5 weeks from the date of deposit. If we're really busy you might have to wait a while.

Can I see some samples?

Cape Mirrors supplies samples of our four main antique finishes. Each sample is 250 x 250mm; the four tiles can be purchased at a set fee of R200.00. We regret that we do not ship internationally. Contact us for samples or call on 083 375 6081.

Will Cape Mirrors install my antique mirrors?

We work strictly on a supply-only basis. For projects requiring the professional installation of antique mirrors in the Cape Town metropolitan area, Cape Mirrors usually works in conjunction with local installers.

How should the mirrors be installed?

Glue your antique mirrors into place using Den Braven High Tack, which is Mirrorfix specifically adapted for hot climates like ours. High Tack creates a durable, permanent bond. Read their product data sheet. Silicones contain solvents that may discolour and or destroy the backing paint layer. We've been relying on High Tack for years. Oh, and don't forget to do a dry-fit first. High Tack bonds instantly.

What's the story with templates?

Believe it or not, sometimes the hardest part of making antique mirrors is getting the glass right. Templates mitigate all kind of problems ranging from wobbly plastering to out-of-square junctions, ensuring a perfect fit on site. If in any doubt, insist your installer makes templates and be sure to mark them FACE and TOP, or we won't know which side of the glass to silver.

What is the largest size you can do?

Our antique mirrors are limited to a maximum size of 2500mm x 1400mm x 6mm. Some of the antiquing methods have a smaller size limit, simply because, even with two of us working on a mirror, we can't reach the chemical reactions happening everywhere at once. Don't worry. We'll let you know if we can handle your request.

Is there a minimum order size?

Orders for mirrors smaller than 0.5sqm will be placed on a waiting list and will be made up with the next batch of mirrors.

My project is outside of Cape Town - how do I get my mirrors to site safely?

We will arrange to have your mirrors packaged and delivered to a local freighting company of your choice. We have found that Rebul do the best packaging in South Africa. Their boxes are tough, strong, lightweight, nail-free, re-useable and completely green. Best of all, we pack the mirrors in the boxes ourselves, with full-size 35mm cardboard spacers between the mirrors, so you know they're going to be packed properly.

Can I insure my mirrors against breakage?

Yes, and you should. In 2014 freighting companies were quoting insurance against breakage at a rate of roughly 2.85% of the value of goods being freighted. Find out from them what they offer.

Breakage sounds expensive...who carries the risk against breakage in general?

Our policy is to carry the risk for breakage or damage to the mirrors until they are safely delivered to site, or to the destination or freighting company requested. Should any breakage happen withing that time frame, we will make every effort to replace the broken mirrors at no extra expense.

And if a mirror breaks outside this defined period of risk?

Mirrors do break, chip or scratch during installation. Please consider the impact on your work schedule to replace damaged mirrors. We will charge normal prices for the replacement of any mirrors damaged outside of the defined period of risk.



If you require samples to show clients, or to test in a beautiful frame, please do not hesitate to email us.
Alternatively, Cape Mirrors can be contacted at 083 375 6081. Ask for James.

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