Old Fashioned Door Knobs
Old fashioned door knobs are an intriguing addition to your home whether they are antique or reproduction. The knobs come in so many colors, styles, materials, and types that they allow you to give your home a custom look for relatively little cost.
Antique Door Knobs
Antique door knobs are difficult to find in large numbers so may be hard to match if you have many doors in your home. If you go for a more whimsical or casual look consider using different knobs on each door.
When you find antique knobs they will often be tarnished, rusted, or chipped. While some elbow grease and a good cleaning will make a huge difference some things can't be fixed. Most people appreciate the worn, used look of antiques and the patina they develop over time. If you prefer a newer look it is best to go with reproduction hardware.
Types of Antique Door Knobs
There are different types of antique door knobs that were popular during different decades.
Pressed glass knobs were used in many affluent homes from the 1820s to the 1850s. You can identify it by its smooth rounded edges. Cut glass was popular from 1860s through 1910. The edges are a bit sharper than with the pressed glass. The glass comes in a variety of colors and works well with cottage and casual décor.
Cast metal, usually bronze or brass, became available in the mid 1840s. Door knobs began to be more ornate with heavily carved designs that corresponded with the high decoration of the Victorian era, although it wasn't until the 1870s that compression casting allowed for the most intricate designs. Many metal knobs were removed from homes during World War II to go to the war effort (and the knobs were replaced with glass). These look best in Victorian type homes.
Porcelain knobs were imported from Europe through the 1850s and work beautifully in farmhouses and other casual country homes.
Wooden knobs were used from about 1885 though 1910. These were often made from burled walnut or other highly grained wood. Left smooth, they get a gorgeous patina over time. Old World style country houses look beautiful with these knobs.
Reproduction Door Knobs
You can find reproduction door knobs for almost any style home from any era. The benefit of using reproductions is that you can get as many as you need to ensure that there is continuity throughout your home. The trick is to get them in a style that matches the era of your home or your décor.
Where to Buy Old Fashioned Door Knobs
You can often find door knobs in antique stores and thrift shops but to get working knobs you will probably want to go to an architectural salvage store or look on the Internet. EBay is a great source for antique and vintage door knobs.
Other sources for antique door knobs are:
Reproduction door knobs can be purchased at:
Other places to consider are thrift shops, garage sales, and flea markets. It takes a bit of luck but finding a unique old door knob is worth it to the historic home aficionado.
Repairing Old Door Knobs
If you have an old door knob in your home that isn't working it may be simple to fix.
If the knob turns but the door doesn't open you probably are dealing with a loose set screw. This screw is found on the side of the door knob near the base. Just tighten that screw and see if the door opens and shuts properly again. If the screw is missing, replacing it is a matter of finding a screw in the same size.
Tarnished brass knobs can be cleaned with Brasso or a similar cleaner.
Wood knobs can be sanded and refinished but they will lose their patina and thus a lot of their appeal.
Choosing to Decorate with Old Fashioned Door Knobs
When you choose to decorate with old fashioned door knobs you are giving your home a nostalgic, old fashioned look that is very welcoming. It is amazing what a few changed to the hardware of your doors can do for the look of your home.