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Old Fashioned Door Knobs

Updated on February 14, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

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.

wooden door knob via SXC
wooden door knob via SXC | Source

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.

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    • Marye Audet profile image
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      Marye Audet 5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      I'm sorry - I don't.

    • profile image

      JDC 5 years ago

      An old friend of mine recently gave me a bunch of awesome crystal doorknobs that i really want to install. unfortunately, the spindles don't fit in all my doors. Do you know a good place to but a kit to retrofit the old knobs? I found a few online but they were $40 a piece which is way out of my price range. =(

    • Hometogarden profile image

      Hometogarden 5 years ago from home

      good

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Years ago we bought an old house that had the most beautiful antique glass doorknobs. I agree, they add such a wonderful warm, homey yet elegant feeling to a home.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I appreciate the artistry that went into these old doorknobs. May have to keep an eye out for some when shopping. Useful hub. Thanks!

    • profile image

      serenawillaims123 5 years ago

      i am only 9 years old but i know good work when i see it and that is beautiful

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

      My parents have tons of old fashioned door knobs and keys from our (very big) older Victorian we grew up in. Your old fashioned door knobs is a delight and gives me some great ideas about working them into my décor. :) Katie

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

      I was fascinated with glass doorknobs as a child and have put a couple of them in my home! :) They are a fun and whimsical touch.

    • profile image

      Bethany Culpepper 5 years ago

      Fun! I would have never thought to go looking for antique door knobs, but they make such a difference in a house. Thanks for the suggestions.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 5 years ago from Utah

      Well done and well written. What a fun concept for adding character to your house. I've done it on the kitchen cupboards, but how fun it would be on the doors of my house.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 5 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and beautiful! Well written and informative. What an interesting idea...

    • kirutaye profile image

      kirutaye 5 years ago from London, UK

      Really useful hub. Hmmm...I think my cupboard doors might need a change soon. :)

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Awesome article! Voted Up and Useful.

      JSMatthew~

    • profile image

      marellen 5 years ago

      Marye...What a wonderful suggestion. This never ran across my mind...now when I go antiquing I will definitely look for them. Thanks for the informative hub.

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