What are the different types of handle available and why use one rather than another?
A door handle is arguably the most important item of Victorian door furniture as it is the item you use to open and close the door. Handles can vary in type: you may wish to use a central turning handle, or a pull handle, a door knob or a lever handle.
A turning handle is used for a door with a closing mechanism so that the handle is attached to a spindle or bolt and a cylinder to which the spindle is connected. Turning the knob pulls the cylinder in the direction of the turn. A latch bolt is at the end of the cylinder which protrudes into the space carved out of the door frame and prevents the door from opening if the knob left stationery. A mechanism causes the latch to return to its original position when the knob is not being turned.
A lever handle works in exactly the same way but instead of being turned, the lever is depressed to open the door and returns to its original position if the hand is removed from the handle. Lever handles are easier to operate than circular turning handles which both the young and old can find difficult to grip.
A pull handle is suitable where the door simply needs to be pulled to open it. There are many different designs of pull handles and they can be highly decorative. Pull handles are typically used in very old houses. Pull handles are also used on kitchen cupboards and drawers but in a smaller size than pull handles used on doors. Pull knobs are also used in kitchens and can be purchased in matching materials and finishes to the pull handles.
What are the other pieces of Victorian door furniture?
An escutcheon is used to cover the keyhole and can be highly decorative; it’s function is to protect the wood of the door from damage by keys. Some door handles are sold in sets with matching escutcheons.
A fingerplate is used in the position where you would push a door open or closed and is supposed to protect a door from wear and tear and fingermarks. Again this can be highly decorative.
A letterbox is used to cover the hole in your front door through which your mail is posted. These can be chosen to match the rest of your door furniture.
Door studs are typically seen on front doors of Tudor Style houses and are nowadays simply used for decorative purposes. Their original function however was to fix together the two layers of wood that a door might have been made from and also to cause damage to any weapons such as an axe being used to break through a front door.
Bolts are used as added security, usually in addition to rim or mortice locks, to keep a door securely fastened in place.
A door chain is used to allow you to open the door a couple of inches to see outside, without opening the door up completely and leaving yourself vulnerable to intruders.
Rim locks and mortice locks are both used with keys to lock a door. Rim locks sit on the outside of the door and are most commonly used on internal doors such as bathroom doors. Mortice locks require extra work to install as they sit inside the door itself but are viewed as giving the highest level of security. Both require a locking mechanism to be attached to the door frame for the protruding parts to fit into when the door is closed or locked.
Door stops are used to stop a door from banging paintwork when it is opened enthusiatically or flies open due to air currents in the house.
Hinges are used to attach a door to a door frame but in the period house, are often highly decorative as well as functional.
The Victorian Emporium sell a wide variety of different items of door ironmongery.