Friday, November 25, 2011

Bakelite Cabinet Knobs & Handles: Depression Era Hardware in the Recession Era

Bakelite Cabinet Knob
Bakelite was invented by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in the early 1900s. Recognized as the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite is hard, moldable, electrically nonconductive, and heat resistant. It was also inexpensive at the time. Its inexpensive quality made it especially popular during the cash strapped Great Depression of the 1930s. It was used to produce everything from bowling balls to small appliance housings to jewelry.

Beaded Bakelite Drawer PullOne of Bakelite's many uses was to produce Bakelite cabinet knobs and Bakelite drawer handles for waterfall furniture. Like Bakelite, waterfall furniture surged in popularity during the Great Depression. Named for its rounded horizontal edges that are reminiscent of water arching over a ridge, waterfall furniture featured cheaply produced wood veneer surfaces and diecast drawer handles and cabinet knobs with yellow ochre Bakelite inserts. The economically producedWaterfall Bakelite Drawer Handle waterfall furniture and Bakelite cabinet hardware was a match made in Depression era heaven.

By the 1940s, the US economy was in recovery. Economical waterfall furniture was fading in popularity. Bakelite was replaced by even cheaper and easier to produce plastics. But as the old saying goes; what goes around Deco Bakelite Drawer Handlecomes around. In what seems to be an era of recession, there has been a renewed interest in antiques in recent years. The restoration of antique furniture is a popular hobby today. Fueled by television shows such as American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow, and Pawn Stars, the restoration of antique waterfall furniture can be a rewarding experience. No restoration Bakelite Drawer Pullof waterfall furniture is complete without Bakelite cabinet hardware however. Antique Revelry offers authentically reproduced Bakelite cabinet knobs and Bakelite drawer pulls that are a perfect fit for waterfall furniture. Antique Revelry's depression era hardware is recession era bargain priced at Shop 4 Classics!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gothic Door Hardware Rich With Gothic Architectural Elements

America’s Gothic Revival Period began in the 1840’s and lasted through the remainder of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. Churches, hospitals, academic buildings, and grand estates built in the Gothic Revival style featured decorative architectural elements borrowed from European castles and cathedrals built from the 12th through 14th centuries. Many of these same Gothic decorative elements also embellished furniture and hardware of America's Gothic Revival Period. Gothic door hardware in particular was not only rich in the style’s architectural elements; it also took on the grand form of Gothic buildings.

The Gothic series of antique reproduction door hardware by Brass Accents is a faithful reproduction of Yale & Towne Company’s 1910 Colburg collection of Gothic Revival door hardware. The doorplate of this series is rich in ornamentation inspired by Gothic architectural elements. Below, we take a closer look at this doorplate in order to identify Gothic architectural elements that were the inspiration of some of its unique ornamentation.

In architecture the finial is a top or finishing stone of pinnacles. The pinnacle, which is the pointed summit of steep gable roofs of Gothic buildings, was often crowned with a decorative finial. Gothic finials are often stylized representations of foliage.

Ogee Arch
The ogee arch is a pointed arch with “s” shaped curves forming both sides. The Ogee arch is a hallmark design element of Gothic architecture.

Crockets are decorative elements similar to finials except that they project from the sloping angles of pinnacles. Crockets also typically represent stylized foliage.

Tracery is ornamental work consisting of an open pattern of interlacing ribs. Tracery is commonly found supporting window glass of Gothic buildings.

Trefoils within Lancet Arches
The trefoil is an architectural ornament in the form of three arcs arranged in a circle. The lancet arch is an arch that is narrow and pointed like the head of a lance or spear. Lancet arches and trefoils are common features of Gothic windows and molding.

Columns with Capitals
Capitals are the cap or crowns of columns. Depending on the period and location, Gothic columns and capitals were simple or highly decorated in design.

Foliage Ornamentation
Stylized foliage ornamentation was a common decorative element throughout Gothic buildings.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Antique Perspective On Baseboard Heat Registers

Baseboard heat registers are, without a doubt, a success! So proclaims William Snow in his 1915 book Furnace Heating: A Practical And Comprehensive Treatise On Warming Buildings With Hot Air. The book is 276 pages of technical information primarily concerning furnaces and ventilation. It is a comprehensive study (as its title suggests) and no thorough examination of furnace heating would be complete without mention of heat registers. In particular, Mr. Snow discusses baseboard heat registers of which he says; "possess the advantages of the floor register and common wall register without having their disadvantages". Today, we take a look at baseboard heat registers from the perspective of this book.

At the time the book was written, the baseboard heat register was a rather new concept. In fact, Mr. Snow refers to baseboard registers as "modern types" of registers. Nearly a century later, we now frequently call them "antique style registers" or "vintage style registers". The book also refers to baseboard registers as "side wall registers". We don't often here that term today. Instead, baseboard registers are frequently called "gravity baseboard registers" because they were initially used with gravity furnaces.

Because the baseboard heat register was relatively new when his book was written, Mr. Snow describes them for his readers. The author states that "the face of the register near the floor projects some distance in front of the baseboard, which is cut away to make room for the register body". The register box (or stackhead) behind antique baseboard registers was usually made of tin or galvanized iron. The register box was "set partly in the wall and partly on the floor". While this was innovative at the time, it does make antique baseboard registers difficult to replace with anything but a reproduction such as the authentic reproduction baseboard heat registers from Mission Metalworks.

Mr. Snow attributes the popularity of baseboard heat registers to their efficient use of ductwork. For example, two baseboard registers placed back-to-back in a single register box could be "utilized to heat adjoining rooms on the same floor". Better yet, baseboard registers allowed a single flue to be used to heat two rooms, one above the other, without being obstructed by the register. The damper on the baseboard register "serves as a deflector, insuring the proper discharge of air". "Otherwise," the author continues, "the upper floor is apt to 'rob' the lower one".

In addition to moderating air flow through the baseboard register, the damper "throws air away from walls thereby avoiding discoloring them". Recall that the book was written in 1915. At the time, heat was provided by a wood burning or coal burning furnace and not the cleaner gas or electric variety found in most homes today. Although we call it a damper, it is called a "deflector plate" or "shutter back" in Mr. Snow's book.

Baseboard registers have two other important advantages over floor registers according to Mr. Snow; baseboard heat registers required no carpet cutting and they allow for more freedom in arranging furniture. However, the author does admit that floor registers have one benefit not provided by baseboard registers. According to Mr. Snow, "old people of the house will be quick to appreciate the advantage of being able to warm the feet over the floor register."

When it comes to furnace heating, William Snow literally wrote the book. When it comes to vintage baseboard heat registers, visit Shop 4 Classics for Mission Metalworks' genuine antique reproduction baseboard heat registers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shopping for Oil Rubbed Bronze Floor Registers: Not All Bronze Heat Registers are Made the Same

Oil rubbed bronze is one of the most popular hardware and plumbing finishes today. As noted in a recent blog entry, there is a wide variety of bronze finishes on the market. Understanding different types of oil rubbed bronze finishes is particularly important when you are shopping for bronze floor registers. There are three basic types of floor registers marketed as being oil rubbed bronze. As we discuss below, there are important advantages and disadvantage of each type of oil rubbed bronze floor register:

Floor registers with solid cast bronze grilles usually have dark brown or black patina finish that has been treated, or rubbed, with a special type or oil or wax. A patina is a chemical that penetrates and reacts to the bronze surface of the grille and darkens its surface. Oil or wax is then applied to protect the patina surface. Wax or oil treated patina finish is the truest form of oil rubbed bronze. Oil rubbed bronze floor registers with solid bronze grilles are more expensive than registers with brass or steel grilles but they are heavier and durable. Bronze grilles' patina finish is considered a living finish because its color can change over time and exposure to the elements. Living finishes have an advantage over faux bronze finishes. The finish can scratch but scratch marks will fade over time as the exposed bronze darkens through bronze’s natural
patina process.

A less expensive alternative to solid bronze grille floor registers are floor registers with solid brass grilles that have faux oil rubbed bronze finishes. The faux oil rubbed bronze finishes used on brass grilles are often a baked-on powder coat finish. Floor registers with cast brass grilles with faux oil rubbed bronze finishes are usually heavier than floor registers with pressed steel grilles. Brass grilles, like bronze grilles, will not rust like most steel floor register’s grilles. It is possible, however, that the faux oil bronze finish will scratch and, unlike bronze, the exposed yellow brass will likely not patina dark enough to blend in with the surrounding faux
bronze finish.

Steel floor registers with oil rubbed bronze finishes are the least expensive option. Their grilles are typically made of pressed steel and either have a painted or a baked-on powder coat oil rubbed bronze finish. Their grilles are much thinner than cast brass or bronze grilles. Their faux oil rubbed bronze finish can scratch or wear off. Scratches or wear marks will expose the steel grille to the elements and could rust. Because the faux oil rubbed finish on steel registers is less durable, oil rubbed bronze steel registers are less likely to retain the initial beauty present
when purchased.

Shop 4 Classics has chosen not to offer steel floor registers but does offer a wide variety of oil rubbed bronze floor registers with solid cast bronze and brass grilles. Shop 4 Classics offers solid bronze grilled floor registers from Hamilton Sinkler, Classic Grilles and Brass Elegans. Hamilton Sinkler’s bronze floor register collection includes registers with contemporary linear grilles and traditional scroll pattern grilles. Classic Grilles’ bronze floor register collection includes registers with their popular Craftsman and Arts & Crafts grilles, Renaissance scroll grille, Victorian grille, and a grape vine themed grille. Brass Elegans offers its Victorian and contemporary linear floor registers with both solid bronze and solid brass grille options. Brass Elegan floor registers with solid bronze grilles feature a dark brown patina while their registers with solid brass grilles have a near black powder coat finish.