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The Beauty of Crystal & Glass Door Knobs

Posted on July 13 2016

Vintage Style Knobs Give Interior Doors A Classic and Traditional Look


It has long been known that multifaceted glass and crystal doorknobs were once standard issue with every new home. These wonderful glass door knobs had mirrored star-burst centers and came in several shapes and sizes. That was nearly 75 years ago - back in the days of the metal shortages of The Great War (World War I) and World War II.



Today, people seek out these classic door knobs - mining them like Gold in salvage yards, flea markets and antique stores like diamonds at salvage yards and flea markets. Unlike the cheaply made "builder's special" models now sold at the corner hardware stores and bulk stores online, these World War II era glass knobs were made to last and had solid brass shanks. The lofty craftsmanship and attention to detail and the adaptability to work with most modern lock sets have earned them preferential status among owners of old and new houses alike.



Glass and Crystal doorknobs date back to 1800s when the process for pressing molten glass into pneumatic cast iron press molds was invented. These press molds were used to make all kinds of glass items from dishware to vases but using them to make glass and crystal door knobs didn't find wide usage until there was a metal shortage ... after the United States entered World War I. All of the metal cast doorknobs had dominated the hardware market since the beginning of the Victorian era were now in short supply. The metal used to make these doorknobs was needed for tanks, airplanes, boats and ammunition.


regency style fluted glass door knobs

Crystal and glass door knobs are made from sand - and sand was never in short supply. By the roaring 20s the largest hardware makers such as Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co. and others were mass-producing door knobs from sand.


Since that time, most of the glass knobs were a fluted style knob - featuring six, eight or twelve facets around the edges. This type of fluted knob had a mirrored center where you could look inside the knob and see the star-shaped design. Occasionally, the manufacturers would make these glass knobs in various colors. This was done by doping the molten silicon glass with various minerals. For example, a dark blue knob could be made by adding the element Cobalt to the molten glass. Adding real Gold would create a Ruby colored glass knob. Vaseline glass was made by adding trace amounts of Uranium Oxide - a process which has been ceased today due to the rarity and value of Uranium Oxide.


Ornate Door Knob set With Round Glass Knob

As these glass doorknobs grew in popularity, companies introduced different shapes. Another popular shape was the Octagon, Oval and Ball shaped glass knobs. These shapes worked well into the Art Deco era hardware and have continued on even today. The use of these glass and crystal door knobs continued to be used, although the metal back plates changed greatly over time.



Where to Buy Glass Door Knobs ...


Today, salvaged glass doorknobs are easier to find online and you can almost always find them at antique stores and flea markets.  However, there are some important considerations to have in mind before making a purchase. Not all parts fit together easily - and different manufacturers used different parts, threading.



If you are looking to replace a home full of door knobs, your best bet might be seeking out an online retailer such as www.AntiqueHardwareSupply.com - they have thousands of styles of glass and crystal door knob sets - made in the antique traditional means with high quality parts. Manufactures such as Copper Mountain Hardware and Emtek have fantastic antique and vintage style knob sets that fit any modern door.


For pairs of knobs, you'll want to measure the door's thickness and compare it with the span between the knobs to ensure a snug fit. A standard door has a thickness of 1 3/8 inches (nearly spot on to 1 1/2 inches). There are some thicker doors out there at 1 3/4 inches and these can be accommodated with a longer screw set.


Feathers Glass Door Knobs
Prices for vintage and antique style glass knobs vary widely, depending on the size, style and back plate chosen. For the most part, you can find complete sets on places such as AntiqueHardwareSupply.com for as little as $50.00. More exotic sets can set you back upwards of $150.00 per set. I would suggest taking a good look at the sets available - and see what strikes your fancy!


1 comment

  • Ingrid T.: April 04, 2019

    I did buy some of these door knobs – they were easy to install and look pretty great. I am getting compliments on them – and I did it myself.

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