Does anyone know if dresser / chifferobe / chest of drawer knobs were ever made of real gold, particularly any shaped like 1.5" roses?
I know that occasionally in very fine houses or on fine pieces of furniture some knobs were gold plated.
How about a picture?
Thank you for the response, Linda. I will try to get a photo. I can tell you this that the knobs come in two pieces. And I think the back plate is commonly called a 'bail', but not certain of that. I've polished one of these knobs and it does not appear to be plated; rather, it is a solid piece of metal and quite too hefty to be brass. I think I might take it to a jeweler's shop to check the metallurgy. The chest of drawers this is attached to has two doors that open into compartments. There is fancy hand cut scroll work on the doors. The drawers have bat shaped pulls that appear to be hammered.
If you had to polish it it's not gold....gold doesn't tarnish. that's why some fine furniture etc had gold plated knobs and faucets....it doesn't tarnish.
Drawer pulls....that is knobs, often come with an escutcheon....that is the thing behind the knob to keep your hands from marring the furniture. Other types of pulls have a backplate and a handle....called a bail.
Brass furniture pulls may be cast and heavy or stamped metal and thin.
Brass is about $1000 an ounce...so even if they were 12 Karat gold and they are 100 years old they would have cost something like $200 each just from the weight of the gold....do you think that's likely?
Brass is made of copper with a little zinc added for strength....it is hard and heavy....heavier than iron or steel.
They could be gilt bronze (ormolu) Or they could be bronze, as you say they are very heavy for their size, now if you've polished them, it is quite likely you have polished off quite a bit of their value. You would find either of these types of hardware only on very high end pieces, they were expensive even then.
But....if they were ormolu, there would be no need to polish them....very unlikely that anything meant to be handled would be ormolu as gilt wears very easily.
Actually the french used ormolu alot for handles on their furniture & while they may not need polishing, I have had them look very grubby, taken them off & cleaned them & they looked like new again.