Cheap Oval mirrors: Looking back
For several centuries now, oval mirrors have been favored over the harsh geometric severity of the square, rectangular and polygonal mirrors. The soft lines tended to flow better with the mild pastels and gentle hues of a woman's boudoir, and these mirrors quickly became quite a bit more popular than the other types. Because of this driving force in the market, there were hundreds of designs that literally inundated the commercial streams, many of which are still popular to this day.
Standing oval mirrors: Psyche and Cheval
Of the models of oval mirrors currently available, the standing type is by far the best selling. Within this category, for obvious reasons of stability, the more popular ones are the swivel stand type rather than the free-standing kind. Sometimes referred to as psyche mirrors or horse dressing glasses (a carry-forward from 18th century terms), these are usually mounted on wooden or metallic frames that allows the angle of the mirror to be controlled and locked. The antique ones may also have a pulley mechanism (called a horse) to adjust the height, but these are cumbersome and now dated. The frames may be made intentionally simple, to lend the impression of subtle wealth, or ornately carved or molded for that touch of pre-Revolution French elegance. These mirrors were made even more popular at one time with the entry of famous English designers like Thomas Chippendale and Thomas Sheraton, who saw the potential of the burgeoning cheval mirror market in mainland Europe and England.
Oval wall mirrors: Fairly-tale famous
Probably the most famous representative of this family is the one used by the Queen in the endearing story of Schneewittchen, or Snow White. In most animated films, this mirror is shown to be oval or a similar shape. Though the shape of the mirror is not mentioned in the original story per se, its dramatization on Broadway in 1912 certainly did its bit for oval mirrors. The idea of an oval mirror is probably to mimic the contours of the head and shoulders, thereby allowing maximum visibility without the distraction of extra background. However, this is merely an assumption, albeit a good one.
Oval mirrors in Feng-Shui
The art of balancing energies within an enclosed space has always utilized mirrors to increase energy flow to areas that require it. Near the entrance, oval mirrors or round ones are usually kept to reflect back negative energy that might otherwise enter the premises. It is said that round or oval mirrors are best for feng-shui because they don't have sharp edges that might cut the flow of Chi, or universal energy, and that they flow can be kept continuous with these mirrors. Even interior designers who have either no intention or knowledge of this esoteric art form use mirrors to visually increase the amount of space in a particular area. Bare walls are the best for this type of mirror, and if the edges are beveled, it can be used to create a stunning effect with the right type and angle of lighting.
Pricing and sundry: Are they 'ovally' expensive?
Wood-framed oval mirrors are generally not that expensive; $40 would be the lower end pricing for the simplest types. Naturally, as the intricacy of the workmanship on the frame and the type and quality of the base material go up, the price faithfully follows, to the extent that you can get an antique oval mirror for $1200 and up! The vastness of the price range could actually be advantageous for the veteran shopper; it allows for a lot of flexibility when planning your interiors. On the whole, the costs are closer to the lower end of that range for the more common types of frames so you have a tremendous choice within the $200 to $400 price band.