Archive for October 2010
We recently came across a box of antique hardware when we were at our local thrift store the other day. We make our rounds every couple of weeks and see what we can find. Most days we don’t really find much, but sometimes we get really lucky, like this past time. They were just unloading a bunch of donations, and were still sorting through them. I mean, what better way to find hardware than at a thrift store where you can donate money to a good cause – a perfect scenario.
We have a good reputation with most of the stores in our areas. We volunteer our time sorting through items, and in return get first dibs on a lot of stuff. This was one of those times that we lucked out while sorting. They had just gotten a very large amount of donations from a woman who had decided it was in her best interest to move into an assisted living home and was donating many of her belongings.
There were three large boxes in her garage of what she thought was just junk that nobody would want. There was actually a large amount of antique items that were gorgeous. This very geometric style sunburst was the first of many items that we dug out of the box.
We really love the simplicity of the design. The original artist that created it really took their time and used imagination to create an appealing design. This classic design also boasts a design that would, and has, hold up over many decades. There are few polished surfaces, making it very easy to camouflage any scratches that may have been caused.
Like many of our pieces, this one will also be cast in bronze, once we clean up all of the minute details so that we may create a perfect mold. If we leave any dirt on the item, the mold will have flaws in it, which we strive to avoid.
This is one of the most unique pieces we have ever found throughout our years of travels, and we didn’t even mean to find it! This is one of many pieces from the estate sale in Charlotte that we unknowingly purchased. I believe this is made of pewter, but still have some cleaning to do before that can be determined.
We originally had this piece in the garbage pile, thinking that all of the dents and the coloring meant it was an extremely cheap piece that wasn’t taken care of at all, but one of our young interns saw the true beauty of it and salvaged it without our knowledge.
She spent days cleaning it, literally. There was so much dirt and debris caked into it, it’s no surprise we were going to throw it away. She brought to our attention that the small roundish indentations that covered the majority of the piece were hand struck on there. The rest of the design, the circle around the center and the polished ridges, were crudely done, suggesting this is either the work of a brand new metal worker, or a piece over two hundred years old.
The weight of this piece is fairly light, but seem to have some durability, so we’re thinking it’s pewter. We could try melting it on a stovetop (but that would be a one-way test). It may in fact be silver, but if that is the case it will take months of scrubbing and polishing to bring out the true shine of the metal.
This is Charlotte special number two. It still needs a lot of cleaning done to it, but you get the basic idea of what it’s going to look like. It is a solid brass door knob that is handcrafted. It is approximately seven decades years old, give or take.
What makes this piece unique is the deep groves that are carved into it. Each space is almost half an inch deep. It may not have been the metal worker’s initial intention to make them so deep; it may just have been a slip of the chisel creating an error that couldn’t be corrected. This is highly likely, as most craftsmen chose to keep a continuous depth throughout the piece.
If you look carefully you can see that the center part of the sun is much shallower than the surrounding parts. The whole reason for the consistency is to make cleaning it easier. The grooves are much darker for the simple fact that it is very hard to clean this piece. Most of that black color is not a patina, but dirt and dust that is caked in.
This is an extremely worn piece. As you can see in the second and third photos, there is a large dent in the side of the piece. It may have been caused by a piece of furniture, or perhaps a frying pan. I mention the latter because this piece originally adorned the back kitchen door to the home.
We are going to continue restoring the piece so that we can prep it for replication. It will be cast again in bronze, as well as our new favorite metal, copper.
This piece was given the name for two simple reasons: one, we found it in Charlotte, NC, and two, it reminds me of a spider web. A very elegant spider web, perhaps woven by the spider Charlotte from the childhood favorite written by E.B. White. Or a snowflake; it could possibly be a snowflake as well.
Regardless of what shape I think it is, the history behind this piece is more important. We were on our quarterly trip through the Southeastern United States and found a few estate sales in Charlotte. As my readers probably have realized by now, we love going to estate sales. You just never know what exactly you are going to find!
This day was no exception. The former owners really had a lot of stuff. Not necessarily good things, like antiques and such that collectors jump on immediately; just STUFF. Boxes and boxes stored all over the house. Now, at the owner’s defense, the home was nearly two hundred years old, and had had several owners previously. Most had been from the same family, or were friends of the family. Since the home was so large, a real classic plantation house, and the residents so few, it was often used as storage for family heirlooms, and things kept piling up.
We helped ourselves to about a dozen or so wooden crates that seem to hold many different door knobs, door plates, and hinges. We got a really good deal on them, and so far have only found a few really exquisite pieces. We’ll highlight those in the next few pages.
This piece is going to be stripped and molds created so that we can cast it in both copper and bronze. We are really starting to appreciate and enjoy the look of the copper, even more so than some of the brass pieces we’ve featured! We know it may never have the same popularity as the other metal, but are hoping to start some sort of trend on our website!
Have really cool hardware you want to sell? Know of some? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make a deal.
Man I love my job – this is so much fun – finding America’s history. Another great find from the West Virginia church yard sale! This is the backdrop for our recently featured Iron Cross Door Knob piece. Yes, I realize they are made of two different metals, but hey, that wasn’t our decision!
Regardless of that minor detail, they blend beautifully and add a touch of mystery when combined. The title of this piece is the best description we could possibly come up with. It’s really more of an artist’s interpretation of the church windows from whence it came. It was clearly crafted just for that building; it’s a perfect miniature of the windows, complete with framing.
Many people may not have originally realized that this door plate is bronze, since it has developed a patina over the surface. In fact, the only area you can truly see the bronze itself is wear it has been covered up by the door knob for years.
We will hold true to the original design and re-cast this in bronze. Being the creative individuals we are, we will also make a piece in copper, as well as cast iron so that it may coordinate with the door knob of your choosing, especially with the Iron Cross door knob.
There is plenty of room for a modern locking mechanism on this piece as well, making it ideal for anywhere from a front door to an office door. If you are not interested in installing a lock, it will still be a wonderful conversation piece. The door plate’s classic style more than makes up for any missing element.
The best part about this piece is that it is such a unique shape that it will appeal to any style or personality type. It will camouflage itself if you don’t want it to stand out, or will be a conversation piece in an otherwise simply decorated room. It’s a chameleon piece!
What’s better than finding stuff in an antique shop that everyone forgot about? Going to a flea market! I mean, real flea markets – that cover acres of grass and lawn – where the locals scour the countryside for the best things. We recently traveled down to Florida to get a break from the cold weather that was moving in. We were in Florida visiting the beach recently and went to a huge one in Daytona. You never know what you’re going to find at one of those, they have everything and then some!
We came across a couple of booths of antique furniture and hardware, but a lot of it looked like restored replicas, and not the originals that we crave. We were only about a third of the way through, when we came across a great find – the motherload. There was two huge tables filled with all kinds of vintage and antique style door knobs, door plates, hinges, and other hardware. This is where we found this beauty.
We immediately started scanning for winning pieces. Winning pieces are ones that seem unique, have exquisite details and that we may not have seen before. We wanted ones that we could see some detail on, and were okay with having to do some heavy clean up on them. Most of the pieces we bought were bronze, but there were also a few cast iron and even a couple of copper ones.
This is a wonderful example of one of the copper pieces. The beadwork design is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Normally beaded pattern items only have small beads around the perimeter – but this has a distinct pattern. It’s modern and classic at the same time, yet shows the elegance of the Victorian era. The coloring is absolutely exquisite, and is a finish that we haven’t used much. After seeing how gorgeous it can be, we are thinking of expanding some of the other pieces and offering a copper finish as well as the bronze ones. It is an incredibly pretty metal that is easy to work with and goes with everything. Let us know what you think! And if you have some really cool hardware to sell, talk with us about it.
We came across this little beauty at the home of a friend. They weren’t interested in selling it to us at all. In fact, they it was like pulling teeth getting them to part with it for just a little while so that we can replicate it! (That’s right, we actually only need to borrow it – the original always stays in tact – never destroyed). We absolutely fell in love with the whimsical sunflower design. This must be a rare piece, since we’ve never seen anything exactly like it before!
Our friend is a huge collector of anything sunflower related. Her entire kitchen is decked out in everything related to the flower, and her backyard is almost overrun with them. Personally, I like sunflowers, but the smaller varieties – the large ones are, well, too big. They are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m surprised we haven’t come across a design like this, or similar, before.
While she used this as an accent piece on her cabinetry, it would also be ideal for back doors, garden sheds, or any flower enthusiast. While we believe it to be a sunflower, it may also be interchanged with a daisy, or just a pretty flower in general. I am also curious how this might look made in iron, and then hand painted as a real sunflower. That might be a true delight.
Each piece we offer is unique in its own way, and this one is no exception. There are so many different options to replicate this. It will most definitely be cast in bronze, but we will probably also offer it in copper, cast iron, and may even dabble with some enamel. How pretty would this little gem be in vibrant shades of yellow?
Can’t you just picture this as a shining example of how the smallest detail in a home can incorporate such a large part of the owner’s personality? It may take us little longer than normal to get this piece available to you; we promised our friend we would get it back as soon as possible, but we may have to d this in installments.
Ooo la la… this is really awesome folks.
As we were driving through a small town in West Virginia, we came across a church yard sale. Well, you know how much we love digging through stuff at yard sales to see what we can find, and that day was no different. We stopped and started browsing the rows and rows of tables the local townspeople had set up, and were immediately taken by surprise. Not only was the yard sale was for the church, but there were parts of the church itself for sale!
The town was working towards renovating the church, and wanted to upgrade to all new hardware, since many of its original pieces were deteriorating from over a century and a half of wear and tear. This was used on one of the rear office doors that was rarely used, thus explaining its pristine condition.
While the word ‘pristine’ generally indicates something that is in mint condition, it is the best possible word to use to describe the quality in which this one hundred and fifty something year old door knob can be described. There are absolutely no blemishes to the iron cross design itself, and very few, minute scratches on the edges. It’s absolutely remarkable and rare to find a piece in this shape!
An iron cross design is a stunning choice for any home, and while many automatically recognize it for its Christian connotations, it can also be used for its iconology. The copper used by its original creator adds a touch of old world charm that is hard to duplicate in any other metal, but we are going to do our best.
Bronze and copper will be the two we use, but we may also experiment to see how well we can bring out the design in cast iron. Who knows, it may be one of those happy accidents that works out better than the original
Simple Colonial Style Door Knobs
Our last big cereal box prize is this brass doorknob. It is rather simple in design, and sure, it may not look like much, but that’s just what makes it such a prized item. We have several similar plates – including that one with the mail box built right in - that matches this exact knob – in fact, we have not just the door plates, but a mail box, door bell and many other items that fit perfectly with this genre. These pieces were somewhat common in homes around the New England states – they were mostly used in larger estates, and for the same reason are extremely rare. It is really exciting to us to find something rare, and more exciting to find something both rare and in such excellent condition.
These door plates look extremely easy to make, and because they were so simple – but alas, they are not. They require sharp edges – which means there were a lot of seconds that had to be scrapped. The homes they decorated were those built in the early to late 1920s – right at the beginning of the Art Deco movement in Paris. These styles knobs would have adorned doors like front entryway doors, back doors, bathroom and basement doors.
Homeowners would save the more decorative elements for sitting rooms, bedrooms, and guest suites. Wealthy homeowners would save something this plain for servant’s rooms, so wear wouldn’t matter. Even then, they would still show wear, and possibly some minor damages. To find a piece in such excellent condition would suggest that it was never used, but the threads indicate otherwise.
The original owner took pride in all of their belongings, and even made sure to polish all metalwork often. This piece hasn’t even really developed a very good patina, and it took us no time at all to clean off the dirt and grime. The original pin point design still covers all parts of the knob, and the edges are sealed with a very delicate crimped edge. These designs were usually put on the face and edges of even simple designs to cover up any flaws that may have occurred during the creation process. They also help to distract your eye from any flaws that may have occurred from user error. Whatever the reason, it’s beautiful!