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Using Vintage Convex Silhouette Pictures as an Unusual Decorating Technique

Updated on September 29, 2014

Most people refer to pictures like these as convex but others call them silhouettes with bubble glass. They were very popular when purchased in the early 20th century and are collectible now. Most were sold in pairs.

Some have metal frames made of copper or other metals. The copper frames are not usually painted over but others are painted with a color that complements the colors found in the picture itself. Sometimes, the frames are wood and, usually, these have a higher value.

Some pictures are larger than others but each of the group's sizes can vary; for example, some of the large size can be one half of an inch larger than others. Pairs are the same size.

The glass itself is extremely sturdy ... it does not break or shatter easily even though it is old.

Pairs featured in a wooden display plate rack. The shelves make a comprehensive and interesting display without such issues as nail holes and crooked pictures.

Parent with children
Parent with children | Source
The early West
The early West
Winter activities
Winter activities
Source

Those at the right are extremely collectible ... they are a larger size (8.5"x6"), have both the people and other decoration emphasized by the black reverse painting on the inside of the glass and have the additional black 'frames'. A mother and children was a popular theme when originally for sale.

A pair like this set would be attractive in a sunlit room, such as a glassed-in porch or bright kitchen.

This pair of baby pictures is adorable with the lace drape and animals highlighted in black. Of course, the babies themselves are the background. Pictures such as these would be very appropriate in a nursery.

Pictures such as these are extremely collectible as they are sought after by those who collect convex pictures and baby pictures.

Many convex pictures have romantic themes ... elegant Victorian couples becoming acquainted, talking, flirting, taking walks, sampling fruit in an orchard, and having picnics. The background pictures include settings such as mountains, lakes, streams, forests, meadows, and early settlements.

Source
The frames are different and the background as well.  Although the people look the same, these two pictures were probably not sold as a set.
The frames are different and the background as well. Although the people look the same, these two pictures were probably not sold as a set.

Some pairs have only a picture of an attractive woman dressed in very feminine clothing. In one picture the woman may be a blonde and the other picture a redhead. These would be very appropriate for a bedroom.

The two pairs at the right have no scenic pictures in the background. As a result, they are not as collectible but would still be an attractive addition to many walls.



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Other bubble glass pictures have no people but, instead a sentiment or a bouquet of flowers. Again, these are not as collectible but can be very appealing in room areas.


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The background in the picture on the right was replaced because of water damage.  A picture like this one cannot be sold as original ... the modification must be pointed out.
The background in the picture on the right was replaced because of water damage. A picture like this one cannot be sold as original ... the modification must be pointed out.
There is a metal 'flap' in one corner that be lifted allowing the frame to open.
There is a metal 'flap' in one corner that be lifted allowing the frame to open.
This is the type of hanger that can damage the picture if not handled appropriately.  The center backing in the picture above shows damage caused by the hanger in this one.
This is the type of hanger that can damage the picture if not handled appropriately. The center backing in the picture above shows damage caused by the hanger in this one.

Cautions

These cautions are not about how these pictures will appear to you, your family, and visitors ... believe me, most people admire them and your cleverness in using them. If you already have some, just hang them up!

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If purchasing them, however, take care in looking them over carefully. Examine them for broken frames, rust spots in the metal frames, water damage or tears on the background pictures, and scratched glass. Another issue can be that the metal hanger in the back has punched a hole in the picture itself. See the pictures above!!!

The plate rack is also useful when the picture hangers no longer work well. One can show many pictures and not worry about aligning them ... just put them in the slots!

Sometimes pictures have the background paper damaged. If most of the artwork is the black reverse painting (see example below) , just take the frame apart and remove the original paper and replace it with an appropriate scene. It is also possible to replace it with curtain fabric and hang them near the window.


Check in your attic, watch for them at thrift stores, and have fun using these attractive convex pictures in your home!

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