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Looking glass

England, retailed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Labeled by John Elliott (1713–1791)


41 1/2 in x 22 in x 1 in


Mahogany, mirrored glass; hemlock and larch

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Charles Lee Reese Jr.

Accession Number



Although the maker’s (or retailer's) label, pasted in the customary place in the upper center of the backboards, has some losses, the English portion of the text reads: “JOHN ELLIOTT, / At his Looking-glass STORE, / the Sign of the Bell and Looking-glass in Walnut-street, PHILADELPHIA, / Imports and Sells all Sorts of English / Looking-glasses, at the lowest Rates. / He also new Quicksilvers and Frames / old Glasses, and supplies People with new / Glass to their own Frames.” “Wm. CORBIT HOUSE / ODESSA, DELAWARE– 1772” is stamped into a metal tag in the upper right corner of the back


The looking glass likely descended from William Corbit to Daniel Corbit, to Daniel Wheeler Corbit, to Sara Corbit Curtis Levis (1871–1952), and to Harriet Hurd Curtis (1903–1971), wife of the donor.


One of two looking glasses that William Corbit likely purchased for his house (the other is acc. no. 2020.113), this looking glass bears the label of John Elliott of Philadelphia.  Elliott advertised that he imported and repaired looking glasses.  He and his namesake son, who joined him in the business, used a variety of different labels that help date the objects more precisely than usual.  The label on this looking glass indicates that Corbit must have bought it soon after completion of his house in 1774.  Corbit's 1818 estate inventory listed four looking glasses valued at $10, $5, and two at $4 each.  Given that this one is the larger of what were likely the two better examples, it probably was the $10 one.


Sweeney, Grandeur, 116, pl. 11.

Sweeney, “Corbit-Sharp House,” 882, pl. X.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 130-131.