Antique glass doorknobs are treasured artifacts from yesteryear and are actively sought by collectors and restorers like Leann and I. So when we set out in search of new door hardware for some additional doors to Pardy House we first looked for originals which were rare to find at best. Once found they cost as much as our doors did. We didn't skimp on the restoration of this heritage home in many places but $250 interior door knobs is where we stood back and applied the brakes.
The history of these beautiful crystal and glass artifacts of the past goes back to the first major technological advances through the early 1800's, from which time the Victorians of the late 1800's applied their flare for opulence to create crystal door hardware fit for palaces and nothing else! Today, glass and crystal doorknobs are still being manufactured, but the look and feel of the glass is distinctly different from that found with their antique cousins. Nonetheless, we went in search of.....dare I say......reproductions!!!
It didn't take long to find some in a St. John's hardware store where only three crystal and brass doorknob sets lay sitting on a dusty old shelf. I guess crystal isn't as popular as it once was, but when did that ever stop us? The door knobs will work in our unique space we told ourselves and bought them on the spot for our sunroom French doors.
As previously eluded to, the technology for pressing molten glass into molds was developed in the 1820's but adopted, at that time, by the social elite alone. The little known fact is that glass and cut crystal knobs were not made popular until 1917-18 once the United States joined World War I. As a result of the war, metals that had been previously used for doorknobs, such as iron, brass and bronze, were redirected from such trivial product manufacturing into airplane and weapon factories.
By 1920, almost 100 years after their creation, doorknobs made from crystal and cut glass were widely manufactured and sold throughout North America, Newfoundland being no exception. Glass doorknobs remained popular until after WWII when North Americans' door hardware preferences reverted back to metals in the 1950s since they once more became the cheaper option for the average home owner.
Today's crystal reproductions are made from lead crystal and, though they are beautiful, you will see a difference if you look at the old and new, side by side, but that's something only a purist could ever worry about. As you can see by our crystal hardware, these dazzling knobs will look great in our sunroom as bright light from our stained glass windows refract off them.