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A SHORT HISTORY OF ANTIQUE HARDWARE



a short history of antique hardware
early American style hardware 1607 to 1865

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, American hardware was usually handmade. The emphasis was on function over style. And most of the style--as well as some of the materials--was imported from England. Innovations during the period included mortise locks, the first uniquely American style of furniture and furniture hardware, and the first American hardware factories. Hardware of the time was simple, plain, heavy, and functional.
Eastlake style hardware 1865 to 1890

The Industrial Revolution transformed every aspect of American life, and hardware was no exception. Choices of styles and materials exploded. As in the past, the primary design influences were imported from England. Innovations during this period include mass-produced and mass-marketed hardware, building and furniture hardware with a single stylistic theme, and the founding of America's most prominent hardware manufacturers. The hardware was elaborate, stylized, extravagant, and incised.
Victorian style hardware 1880 to 1915

This era represents the peak of the American decorative hardware industry. Innovations during the period included inexpensive casting producedures, new finishing and plating techniques, and the perfection of an all-encompassing hardware aesthetic. Victorian doorknobs, doorplates, hinges, and furniture pulls are lavish, with complicated, swirling, floral patterns in relief.
arts and crafts style hardware 1895 to 1920

Initially a philosophy decrying the excesses of the Industrial Revolution, the Arts and Crafts movement in England ended up giving birth to a mass-produced American design style--and a "handmade" one at that. Featuring function over form, the Arts and Crafts style of hardware harkens back to the past. It is simple, stylized, and, in the case of furniture hardware, never used solely for decoration. Always looking roward the past, the style is funcitonal, simple, and handmade.
revival style hardware 1895 to 1945

Borrowing themes and forms from the past, the Revival styles of design sought to elicit the romance and security of long-ago times and faraway places right in the heart of booming American suburbia. Using techniques developed to create the "handmade" look of Arts and Crafts style hardware, manufacturers mass-produced simple, "handmade," historical" iron and brass pieces by the millions. Hardware for the Revival styles was rustic, quaint, old world, and romantic.
art deco style hardware 1925 to 1940


Art Deco was the first comprehensive American decorative style that originated in France, not in Britain. It was also the first decorative style that looked toward the future rather than the past. The style utilized elaborate geometric motifs and materials that previously had not been used for hardware. Art Deco door hardware was commonly chrome-plated steel or brass, while furniture hardware featured different woods and brightly colored Bakelite and plastic.
streamline moderne style hardware 1930 to 1950

After several years of visual luxury and extravagance, Art Deco merged with the Bauhaus-born International Style to create Streamline Moderne. The style emphasized sweeping, aerodynamic curves, and circular forms. Streamline Moderne builders and furniture hardware was often chrome-plated or brushed steel or brass; aluminum was also used extensively.
mid-century contemporary style hardware 1945 to 1960

Moderne became modern as America created its own look by mixing clean lines with a stark functionalism. Refuting any historical embellishments, Mid-Century Contemporary epitomized the innovative, no-nonsense spirit of the times. Function became a style all its own. No-nonsense, functional, linear, and solid, Mid-Century Contemporary hardware embodied the period's optimism.
contemporary hardware 1960 to the present


From the beginning of the Space Age to the new millennium, no one style has dominated. In the age of "anything goes," last year's look is this year's revival. Contemporary hardware is eclectic.

 

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