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Old Fashioned Door Knobs: Antigue Vintage Door Handles

Updated on February 27, 2015

Old Fashioned Door Knobs: Vintage Door Handles

While growing up, I can vividly remember my grandmother's beautifully seamless integration of old fashioned door knobs into the basic design aesthetic foundation of her home. Akin to the sturdily designed automobiles of her day, these vintage door handles were both elegant, as well as, strong and durable. Above all, even at such a young age, I can still remember appreciating the sheer uniqueness of these door knobs. Each one, it seemed, had its own unique design pattern and appeal. Admittedly, this element of her home's design aesthetic left a forever impression on my own design palate and taste.

Fast forward to more recently, I was walking through an antique store when I noticed a large barrel, full to the brim with hundreds and hundreds of old fashioned door knobs. Many of these vintage door handles actually looked quite similar to those that my grandmother had placed on the doors around her home. I was a little perplexed at first, not seeing a purpose in them, but I quickly realized the brilliance of these pieces. Old fashioned door knobs are not only extremely cool, they are durable and probably built more sturdily than any modern day counterparts. They're also part of what I like to call 'lazy man's vintage style', meaning you can update your vintage look without doing too much else!

This article will talk about the various uses you can find for vintage glass and brass door handles in your home. We'll talk about the types of old fashioned door knobs available out there, and we'll mention the various uses you can find around the house. We'll touch on some of the potential snags and disadvantages of these things too.

Let's begin!

Why Vintage Door Handles? Old Fashioned Door Knobs

So you might wonder why someone would pick out a set of old fashioned door knobs when there are so many suitable new alternatives out there. Surely a newer door handle would be a better choice, right? Not necessarily. You'd be surprised by how sturdy and reliable these pieces are. Not only will they last forever (made of heavy and strong metal, meant to last a long time), they are also very simple in construction. Have you ever had a door handle malfunction, trapping someone? I have, and modern mechanisms are a pain to figure out.

Not only are old fashioned door knobs strong and sturdy, they are pretty fashionable. The vintage style movement is gaining momentum, and it's pretty cool to have something more than a hundred years old still in use in your home. They are great conversation pieces, they match well with similar vintage furniture, and best of all vintage door handles just look great.

Styles and Features: Old Fashioned Door Handles

If you're after a nice little old fashioned door handle, you're probably going to run into a few different types out there. Most vintage door knobs are pretty unique: not exactly a one-off, but very rare. It's unlikely to find two pieces that are exactly alike, but there are similar styles out there.

You can find vintage glass door handles that utilize a large amount of glass, usually in the knob portion of the piece. These are probably a little more rare, considering that they contain a breakable substance. If you're lucky, the antique shop carrying such a piece will have been very careful to preserve it. If they're less observant and just toss it in the bin with 500 other old fashiond door knobs, chances are it will be cracked or shattered. Vintage glass door handles are pretty cool and should be embraced regardless of the glass condition. The scratches and discoloration will give it extra character.

Antique brass door handles are very popular. In fact, most handles were made of some kind of brass, it was the 'go-to' material for the things back in the day. Antique brass door handles will likely have some sort of oxidization unless they are well coated in some kind of protectant. Again, the discoloration and oxidization of the handle just gives it added vintage character.

Issues and Setbacks: Old Fashioned Door Knobs

There are some problems associated with the use of old fashioned door knobs in your home, and it's up to you to decide whether or not it's worth the trouble of dealing with them.

First, you can expect to have a few headaches when installing a vintage brass door handle of any sort. The problem lies in the fact that these pieces are all around 75 to 100 years old, and the hardware requirements for mounting a doorknob have changed in that time. You might have to hunt around for particular nuts and bolts, perhaps going to an antique shop for special order parts. You may just have to attach it as best you can, it might not be perfect.

Another issue you might have with antique brass door knobs is the locking mechanism. While the door knob itself is likely to be of high quality, the locks back then were not. It's pretty easy to break into an old fashioned lock, so you don't want these things protecting your home. If you're planning to have an old fashioned door knob on your exterior door, put in a deadbolt as well.

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Where to Find Them: Old Fashioned Door Handles

Finding old fashioned door handles isn't terribly difficult, and they can be purchased for fairly reasonable prices. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I found a whole bin of them at an antique store. Keep in mind they were still quite expensive for what they were, but there was a ton of selection and the staff was very helpful.

You can also find old fashioned door knobs on older pieces of furniture, or on defunct doors. It might be a bit of a pain removing them from their housing, but this can be a great way to save money.

Good Luck!

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    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Great article. These are so cool. I love how ornate and heavy duty old fashioned door knobs are, and would actually never have thought to look for some in antique shops. Voted up!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      What a great collection of lovely door knobs. They just add that special touch to a home. Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Sending Angels your way today :) ps

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