Design for a mirror back, 1870-1875.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 18cm x 32cm

Design for a mirror back, 1870-1875.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Pencil and sepia wash on paper. The handle has a woodland floral garland motif while the main area features a scene from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', including the characters Titania, Oberon and Puck. The mirror was to be constructed from ivoride at Daniel Spill's Ivoride Works, Homerton, London. Ivoride is a form of Parkesine, the first mouldable plastic, invented by Alexander Parkes (1813-1890) in 1855. As its name suggests, it was used to imitate ivory and was also known as Ivorine, Ivorite and French Ivory. It was used as an inlay for musical instruments and for the manufacture decorative objects. Daniel Spill (1832-1877) established his factory in the mid 1870s, producing Ivoride and Xylonite, a plastic devised by Spill himself.

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