Identifying Genuine Antique Hardware


Antique hardware is an essential component of antique furniture, ensuring that it remains authentic, and its value is preserved. However, with reproductions readily available in the market, identifying an original antique hardware can be quite a challenge. This article aims to provide tips on how to distinguish authentic antique hardware from reproductions.



Identifying Antique Hardware:

The first step in identifying antique hardware is conducting thorough research. You should familiarize yourself with the different styles of hardware used in different periods, including their materials, finishes, and designs. By understanding these elements, you can easily identify a specific item's age, authenticity, and value.

If you are unsure about the hardware's authenticity, it is advisable to seek the assistance of experts. A professional may be able to provide valuable information about the age and authenticity of a particular item, such as the type of metal used, the style, and the period in which it was produced. Antique dealers, appraisers, and even online forums can offer invaluable expertise and knowledge.

The examination of antique hardware should be meticulous, as minor details can be the key to identifying the item's authenticity.



Materials Used: 

The material used is one of the most significant factors in determining an item's age and authenticity. Antique hardware was typically made from brass, copper, iron, or steel, while reproductions are often made of cheaper materials like aluminum or pot metal.

These materials tend to have different finishes, which can help you differentiate between original and fake items. One of the more popular trends in antique hardware was the use of bronze and copper.

Bronze was commonly used for door knockers, doorbells, and light fittings. Copper was popular as a material for fittings, fastenings, and locks. A bronze or copper item that has a patina-like appearance is probably an original. Conversely, an item that has a painted-over or polished look is likely a reproduction.




The finishes of an antique piece of hardware might indicate its age. For example, items with a highly polished appearance are likely to be reproduction pieces. An original piece's finishes will typically show signs of aging and wear over time. Additionally, the level of patina on an item is an excellent indication of its age.

Typically, antique hardware might have a detailed polish finish, an antique finish, oxidized finish, or a painted finish. A detailed polished finish is where the hardware has been polished to a high shine. The antique finish is where the hardware has been aged over time, giving it a darkened appearance.

An oxidized finish is where the hardware has reacted with the air, producing a blue or green patina. This type of patination takes years to develop in authentic antique hardware. Lastly, a painted finish might indicate a counterfeit item since most originals would not have painted finishes.




The design of antique hardware has evolved over time. The styles range from classical to art deco to victorian styles. The design of authentic antique hardware typically reflects the historical period in which it was produced. The designs can be quite intricate, with detailed engravings, embellishments, or other decorative elements. Furthermore, original pieces are often shaped with unusual curves, lines, or shapes that may not match reproductions.

  • Some pieces of antique hardware have markings that identify their origin or manufacturer. For example, some antique doorknobs have stamped markings indicating the manufacturer. Also, a maker's mark can help determine the period in which the item was produced. Researching the manufacturer's workshop information can reveal significant information about their design styles, materials, finishes, and techniques. 
  • The age of the hardware you are examining is essential. If the item is genuine, it should correspond to the correct age when it was created. Reviewing the history of the hardware may also indicate its age. For example, brass and copper were common materials used during the Victorian era, while iron and steel were popular during the Industrial Revolution. Knowing the right period is vital since the item's age may impact its value.
  • The patina of an antique hardware piece could provide useful information about its age. Patina refers to the natural aging that occurs on the surface of metal objects. The patina is formed by environmental factors that cause oxidation to occur over time. Certain types of patination can take years to develop in authentic antique hardware. If an item has a patina that appears too uniform and consistent, it is likely a fake or reproduction.
  • Provenance refers to the item's history, specifically the documentation that accompanies it over time. Original pieces of antique hardware are typically accompanied by documentation that confirms their authenticity. This documentation might include a bill of sale, a certificate of authenticity, or an appraisal. A lack of provenance could indicate a reproduction piece or that authentication should be considered thoroughly.




Identifying authentic antique hardware requires thorough examination and research. The most effective approach involves a combination of these tips to help differentiate original antique hardware from reproductions. A genuine antique adds value and character to a piece of furniture, making it a worthy investment. With the appropriate knowledge, collectors can confidently invest in original antique hardware that inspires confidence and satisfaction in their collections.


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