Look in a mirror and one thing's sure; what we see is not who we are.




Relic Mirrors

Before he perfected the printing press, Johannes Gutenburg was a metallurgist in Mainz and went into business making and selling relic mirrors.

To store the magical properties of relics, medieval pilgrims used to carry folding metal mirrors. When they got to the shrine they would hold the mirror up in front of it, then close the cover. Then they took the mirror home and opened it up to 'release' the captured image into their house.

Gutenberg set up his business at Aachen, which was (and is) stuffed with relics: Mary’s robe from the night Jesus was born; Jesus’ swaddling clothes; the cloth in which John the Baptist’s head was wrapped after he was beheaded; and the loincloth Jesus wore on the cross. Unfortunately, all Gutenberg’s mirrors remained unsold, because in 1439 the Pope banned the Aachen pilgrimage in order to prevent the spread of disease (in the same year, a Royal proclamation in England banned kissing, to the same end) – so Gutenberg abandoned the idea, went home to Mainz, and bought a wine press in an attempt to repay his investors. He then modified the wine press to make his first ever printing press. But – despite engineering one of the great turning points in human culture – Gutenberg never made much money. He died obscure and forgotten in 1468. 

Measuring Cloud Cover

You can use mirror to measure cloud clover - even though obviously just looking at the sky is a bit of a better way to see how cloudy it is...

To measure cloud cover, divide a large mirror into a grid with 16 equal squares using a dark crayon. Lay the mirror on the ground somewhere you can see the whole sky.
Count the number of grid squares, or fractions of squares with cloud in them. Divide that number by two to convert sixteenths into oktas.


The only service a friend can really render is to keep your courage by holding up to you a mirror in which you can see a noble image of yourself.

Lincoln's Dream

The night before he was elected President for the first time, Abraham Lincoln had a dream in which he saw himself in a mirror. He saw two images of himself superimposed on one another, one being much paler than the other.

He told his wife about it, and she interpreted it as meaning that he would be twice elected President but would not live through the second term. How right she was. 

Rollerskating Disaster

The first rollerskate demonstration, in May 1770, ended with inventor Joseph Merlin crashing into a £500 mirror. Merlin was skating whilst playing the violin.
A report of the day said:

'When, not having provided the means of retarding his velocity or commanding his direction, he impelled himself against a mirror of more than 500 Pounds value, dashed it to atoms, broke his instrument to pieces and wounded himself severely'.

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter?

A phobia of mirrors, or of one’s own image in a mirror, has three possible names: eisoptrophobia, spectrophobia, or catoptrophobia.

The brownsnout spookfish is the only vertebrate known to use mirrors as well as lenses to focus light.


The Olympic Torch is always lit by the light of the sun reflected off a parabolic mirror.

Human babies cannot recognise themselves in a mirror until they are 18-24 months old.

Enoptromancy is divination by mirrors.