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Looking glass

England; retailed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

c. 1774


Probably retailed by John Elliott (1713–1791)


36 1/4 in x 19 1/2 in x 1 1/2 in


Mahogany; European conifer (backboards and frame)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of the estate of Mrs. Charles Lee (Katharine Evans) Reese III

Accession Number



“Wm. Corbit / To be done to his order / £ 2.12” is written in ink on the upper left of corner and the middle left side of the backboard; “Wm. CORBIT HOUSE / ODESSA, DELAWARE – 1772” is stamped into a metal tag attached in the upper right side of the top framing member in the back .

Condition Notes

The head of the phoenix is a replacement, and its lower body has been repaired by application of a shell-like carving.  (For comparison, see looking glass acc. no. 2020.113.)  The left upper ear and the right lower ear are replacements.


The looking glass descended from William Corbit to his son Daniel, to Daniel Wheeler Corbit (1843–1922), to Sara Clark Corbit Curtis Levis (1871–1952), to Harriet Hurd Curtis Reese (1903–1971), to the wife of Charles Lee Reese III.


This looking glass, similar to several with Elliott labels, bears an extremely rare inscription identifying it as to be done to William Corbit's order, thereby affirming its provenance.  (For another looking glass with a rare inscription, see acc. no. 2020.112.)  It also descended in the family and had a stamped metal label attached to the back that further identified it as from that source.  Although the mirrored glass is original, the molded and gilded phoenix in the pediment was damaged and repaired.  The source of the repair must have been another eagle's head, but the present tail is only an approximation of what was their originally.  That the looking glass survived at all is remarkable.  It is probably the one valued at $5 in William Corbit's 1818 estate inventory.


“Delaware Furniture from Delaware Houses,” exhibition pamphlet, Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, April 5–30, 1950, cover, 5.

Sweeney, Grandeur, 117.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 132-133.