Blacksmiths and Artisans
In the beginning there was Wood and then there was Iron.
In Tudor times in England, and before, all handles, latches and hinges would have been bespoke and hand made by local blacksmiths or artisans. Regional styles varied according to the local traditions.
Often wooden doors would sport simple wooden latches and fittings.
Only large homes, castles, churches and civic buildings would use well made fancy decorative wrought iron fittings and sometimes brass or even silver fittings.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial revolution in England led to an explosion in the mass production of items in cast iron.
The patterns of blacksmith hinges and latches, handles and knobs, were simply copied in the new mass medium of iron.
So with the subsequent improved availability and reduced cost, iron fittings were used prolifically in all types of building.
Georgian and Regency Ironmongery
The improvements and regulation of architectural style in the reigns of Queen Anne and subsequent King Georges, saw the paladian rule of proportionality in design paramount in such things as parapets to hide roofs, sash windows for a flat frontage appearance and overall rectangular golden rule dimensions of building.
Window furniture meant sash window fasteners, sash lifts, and door handles were generally brass knobs designed to work on the prevalent rim locks and latches face fixed to doors.
Out of fashion were the rustic ring latches, tee hinges and thumblatches of yesteryear.
Regency under the auspices of the Prince Regent saw a brief flirtation with the grander and fancier Baroque influenced designs in beaded Brass and sometimes gold.
Georgian handles in terms of Ironmongery is now known as the rope edged pattern lever handle and knob – although it is debatable as to whether this was actually fashionable at the time.
The prosperous Victorian era saw the increased use of mortice locks and latches cut into the door to replace the coarse rim fitting, and the greater use of Victorian styled lever handles of scroll and plain design.
Brass rim locks and brass knobs were still used plentifully in reception areas of homes, with the lower order room doors ‘below stairs’still sporting steel locks and cast iron handles.
Reception rooms often used China or Porcelain knobs and fittings.
The advent of the nightlatch as front door security saw mass use of Front Door locks and increased security on all properties windows saw the advent of casements and so casement fasteners and stays, although the ubiquitous Sash window was still very prevalent.
Edwardian and Modern Ironmongery
At the turn of the century in the Edwardian era there was a rediscovery of simple wooden door knobs and fittings under the revivalist Arts & Crafts movement. Soon followed in the early 20th century by handles in bright polished Chrome and Bakelite to suit the Art Deco fashion of angular design.
Modern contemporary door furniture has seen an homogenization in England with the European style from the continent, where traditional lever furniture in brass has given way in the latter 20th Century to tubular levers on round backplates in Stainless steel and chrome of increasingly daring design for the English palate.
Security has seen the use of technological innovations such as digital door locks, and card key entry systems.
The future sees the increased use of personal physical recognition technology such as fingerprint reading and retina recognition systems for door entry.
How long is it before we see the Star Trek style sliding door in regular use without handles or hinges?