1860's carriage house: levers or knobs?

conn123May 27, 2009

Would lever interior door handles be totally inaccurate (from a historical renov standpoint) for an 1860's carriage house? We're contemplating Baldwin Images Series 5462.452 in distressed antique nickel, but am wondering if I should switch to knobs.



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Photo link to lever

Here is a link that might be useful: Baldwin Images Beavertail lever

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Please vote...

Here is a link that might be useful: Baldwin Images Oval Knob

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 5:33PM
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OK, I like the levers.
But, I don't know about historical correctness for the 1860's, hopefully someone else will chime in!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:36AM
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I'm waiting too. I still have levers on a few of my doors, probably original hardware from early 1800s. The rest of the locking mechanisms had been removed from all of the other household doors, save a couple of the exterior doors. One has a fancy metal plate with skeleton key hole and metal knob, the other heavy metal plate and mechanism, with skeleton key hole and white porcelain knob. I don't know at what point in time these were installed, whether original or not.

We had no closets, save two foot deep presses in two of the bedrooms, in the inglenook of the fireplaces. They have a little metal twist knob into an accomodating plate on the sill.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 12:01PM
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There is precedent for "elbow latch" lever rimlocks from the early 18th century, but they looked nothing like a modern lever set. There were french doors with lever sets (1880's), but the levers are very diminutive; not more than 2" in length. Knobs are most in the realm of reality in the 1860's period. Materials could have been white porcelain, Bennington porcelain, wood, bronze, or the old standby, brass.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 7:48PM
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Why not do a mix. It would in be the most correct look. 1860 you are in the starts of the Civil War. Supplies for buildings are getting hard to come by. Shipments are interrupted due to fighting. If you were a homeowner you'd be making do or doing without worried about how long the war might last and what it will do to the economy.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 9:15PM
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The one I referred to as a lever, you're right, is probably not what she is calling a lever set. I don't know the proper name for it, but I call it a thumb latch. A curved plate juts out from one side you would press on with your thumb as your fingers slip behind a curved pull, and on the other side of the door, it pulls a rod up attached to a lever and lifts it out of a catch. The mechanism is not enclose, you can see it lift. It looks very old, and the door is original and very short. I just barely got through it. A tall man would have to duck.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:58PM
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It might depend on what part of the country your property is & what hardware was easily available to builders. A lot of cast iron foundries were in the South & it's reflected in a lot of local hardware from that era.

My 1858 house has iron box locks made by Carpenter (the latch goes up & down instead of in & out) that were imported from England until about 1865. I've never seen them with anything other than knobs, mostly cast brass, but there's no reason a lever wouldn't have worked. I have no original knobs so I don't know if mine were brass or the white porcelain variety. My keyhole covers for the exterior doors & the front parlor are teardrop shaped, white porcelain over a brass escutcheon so either knob would have matched; escutcheons for the less important rooms are rectangular cast iron. The hall doors to the 2 formal rooms are the only ones that had mortised locks originally so I assume they were a status symbol (I seem to recall researching this & mortise locks had just come into vogue around that time). The outside kitchen had been demolished in 1934 & the stable replaced twice so I don't know what kind of hardware they had.

My hardware is very utilitarian as befitting a carpenter's Greek Revival home, but I've seen the same pieces on much finer houses, although the Italianate mansions of the era are probably more ornate. Hard to tell what's original when you're on a tour.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 11:21PM
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