Thursday, January 04, 2007

Doorknob

A few posts ago, Jodi asked for a closer look at one of my doorknobs. (I took a whole bunch of photos, and all but one were out of focus. Why? Why?) My apartment is probably a little over a hundred years old, and all but one of the doorknobs are clear glass, including those on the closets. And I hadn't noticed before, but only one door has this elaborate plate behind the doorknob: the door to Bill's office.

Not only is it a little strange that this fancy plate is on only one door, and a bit of a random door at that (why not on, say, the front door?), but look at those screws holding it to the door! Funny that somebody decided to install a fancy doorknob plate and then attached it with big ol' screws like that. Did they intend to replace them with something more appropriate someday? Did they not really care, as long as the doorknob worked?

Thanks, Jodi, for making me notice something new in my environment. And you? Interesting old doorknobs? An old stained-glass window somewhere?

18 comments:

Steph said...

Those same doorknobs are in my parents house - without the fancy plate, mind you. When we discovered at some point during the 1980s that the plates were actually brass, my brother and I were given the job of polishing them.

I think those glass knobs must have been very popular in Nova Scotia as well as New Brunswick, as I've spotted them in many houses I've visited here in Halifax and Dartmouth.

Alison said...

A house that I pass on my way to the subway was completely gutted and redone last year - interior and exterior. On the porch, next to the front door, was a square stained glass window. It disappeared at one point during construction, and there was a piece of plywood over the opening. I thought perhaps they were getting it refinished or something, but it never went back up. They replaced it with an ugly square of that stippled shower-door glass. The house was sold after the renovations, and I wonder if the people who bought it know that they are missing a stained glass window. Such a shame.

Chris said...

What a fascinating (and attractive) mystery!

jodi said...

Thanks!

During my decade in Londonontario I lived in so many of those divey apartments in formerly lovely century homes, and they all had weird little touches like this. The honking big screws holding the fancy plate to the wall are so typical, and funny.

My last place before I left London was a total mishmash: gorgeous iron fireplace with ugly green/brown tiles, boring typically London stained glass (the stuff they made there, that every house in the old north area has, I bet you know it), a great sliding wooden door, ancient olive brocade wallpaper only inside the closet. In the front hall there was a weird iron plate with a decorative border and an inexplicable slot (upright, only big enough to stand a pencil in) that I tried to steal when I moved out, but it was impossible to get the screws out of the wall. It broke my heart, because while I know you shouldn't pilfer stuff from old houses, the landlord really didn't give a rat's ass about the place, and really, what a cool wall-mounted pencil holder that would have been.

jodi said...

Also, that weird plate thing was on the trim around my door, about a foot off the floor. In case that helps anyone to figure out what the heck it was.

marielle said...

I love, love, love glass doorknobs. Old doorknobs in general, for that matter - like this one.

chris said...

I love those old glass dorknobs! I also have a thing for old windowframes (not stained glass, but with plain glass panels) -- I have a group of them on my mantel, and if I remember, I'll take a picture and post it for ya!

Jaime said...

Those doorknobs are beautiful! I live in an old house with some glass doorknobs still intact and many wooden built-ins. I adore old homes like that.

Wendy said...

What a lovely doorknob -- my grandma's house had glass doorknobs that were similar, but without the pretty metal plate behind them.

Ever seen the '60s US tv show "Bewitched?" The character Aunt Clara collected doorknobs. I always thought that was silly, but if they were all like yours, it makes more sense!

Stacey said...

Those are really neat - my grandmother's house had all glass doorknobs and I used to love looking into them (when I was little!). The plate is really pretty - I wonder if someone took it off for something and lost the screws, then just put it back up with those - funny how once you mention them they really stick out!

Nadia said...

*sigh*

That's just so loverly. I've always wanted glass doorknobs and cupboard handles. Vancouver's just so *new*, y'know? It's missing a lot of old, quirky touches like that.

Mia said...

I love your door knobs. Maybe I will replace the door knobs in my place this spring with something along those lines. Although my door knobs are original.

Don't you love old houses?

lyssa said...

Having repaired many such doorknobs in my in-laws' Victorian house, I can tell you exactly why those big honking screws are there.

100 years of tugging on the doorknobs makes the screws loose in the wood, then the whole doorknob feels looser and looser until it finally falls off in your hand. By upping the diameter of the screw, you can make it nice and tight for another hundred years.

I would have used pretty brass screws, though. The big zinc ones are funky.

Mary said...

We had interesting doorknobs in the house I grew up in! It was an old house and every time I turned a knob I managed to somehow drop out the knob on the other side of the door thus making it impossible to get into said room. Good thing the bathroom had 2 entrances.

steve said...

Happy New Year to the Brainy household. And happy anniversary, blog. I groove on the header--personal, Canadian, knitty. Nice.
We had a place a few years back with all glass knobs on the inside doors and one highlight stained glass panel set above the two bedrooms' doors that opened onto a little balcony facing south into the light.
Now we just have boring 12-year-old place with everything new-ish.
Cheerio.

amanda said...

ahh, interesting doorknobs are the best. We have glass ones in our house too, though none of them have such cool plates!

Aprilynne said...

We had those door knobs in the house we grew up in, too, it was built in the 1890's in East Texas. I suspect the screws are taking the place of the originals, they look like drywall screws, lol, probably supposed to be temporary, but then forgotten. I loved all the glass doorknobs in our old house, but they DID come apart easy and trap you in or out =)

brewerburns said...

I have the same doorknobs in my house (built 1938) but not the fancy plates. The window in my living room is also original to the house, with leaded glass. Unfortunately it also leaks like a sieve. Eventually we're going to have to either replace it (like everyone else on the block) or finagle a way to make it more airtight.