Repro/antique mortise locksets and pocket door hardware

cfvhJuly 5, 2013

Hello everyone,

We're reconstituting an old house that was, sadly, chopped up into a triplex but has now been rebuilt on the interior into a generous two-floor (second and third) apartment plus a smaller single-bedroom apartment (first floor and basement). We have thoughtfully chosen out custom milled woodwork, light fixtures, etc, to bring the interior back close to how it could have looked detail-wise when first constructed, the layout obviously having changed.

We chose beautiful five-panel doors to use throughout the house but we're sort of overwhelmed with the choices for hardware to use, either mixing and match knobs, plates, rosettes and keyhole plates or trying to find reproduction sets.

We've figured, however, that we'd like to sort out the locking mechanisms and work back from there.

We have nine interior doors that we are looking for mortise sets or latches for:

Four closet doors
Two bedroom doors
Two bathroom doors, one swinging and one pocket
One basement door.

First of all, we can't find attractive/simple locking pocket door hardware in satin nickel for the one bathroom door. We've checked out hardware stores but are unhappy with the quality of what we've seen. Anyone have any links or resources for online?

The four closet doors are probably going to get rosettes. All the doorknobs throughout will probably match, we just haven't picked anything out yet. We're not averse to having everything replated.

We're unsure how to handle the other (regular/swinging) bathroom door, the two bedroom doors or the basement door.

The two bedroom doors are in the same area as the sliding bathroom door. We'd like them to potentially lock somehow. Do we go with the mortise lockset with a skeleton key and just leave the key in on the bedroom side? Or do we go with some sort of privacy latch below the knob without the keyhole on the other side?

The other bathroom door and the basement door face one another and are not in the same apartment as the above mentioned doors. We want the basement door to lock just for the fact that anyone having company over may not want children to potentially open the door and fall downstairs. We'd also, obviously, like the bathroom door to lock. Undecided if we go with a latch or a key.

That being said, has anyone here used reproduction mortise locksets and skeleton keys or knows of a place to get a matching set of new old stock or antique pieces? Is it a bath idea to use the privacy latch with no keyhole or the key?

Thanks :)

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Vandykes restorers, Restoration hardware. Check out Old House Journal on line. Tons of places. You won't know the answers to the questions until you see what's available.
Have fun, I love hardware!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Thanks for some of the leads thus far, Jaysmom49.

Sadly, Restoration Hardware doesn't seem to have any of the mortise locksets or in-door privacy latches. The only link I could find on the Old House Journal was for a website where you have to buy a complete set for each door... We think we're just looking for the guts/mechanisms for each door at the moment and will try to find the knobs and plates later as nothing on that site has appealed to us.

Van Dyke's has a privacy latch but I think we would like one that is incorporated into the same plate as the door knob if we don't just go for keys: St. Simons Mortise Door Bolt. I have seen these in older (presumably better than today's quality) installations and they always seem to have failed one way or another.

Some of their mortise locksets look attractive but I am worried that the low prices may mean low quality. There are also some that are more expensive, let much more so.

It's good, at least, that the pieces can be found. Has anyone here had any experience with the function of the reproduction locking/skeleton key sets?

Still looking for an attractive locking (thumbturn) pocket door handle as well as advice on whether to use the keys for the bathrooms/bedrooms or the thumbturns.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Circus Peanut

Charleston Hardware makes some quality reproductions; I can't speak for their pocket door locksets but had a good experience with their knobs, spindles, & rosettes:

Here is a link that might be useful: Charleston Hardware

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 1:36AM
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No links to offer other than those mentioned, but just wondering why you don't just do mortise locks and escutcheon plates rather than rosettes for all of them? I've not actually measured, but when I had to replace the mortise lock on my linen closet in the bath, I used one found at a salvage shop, which had tons of them, and very cheap too. Mine appear to be all the same size throughout the house.

Skeleton keys are readily available to fit mortise locksets, and the rectangular plates go better with your style doors than a rosette would--those are usually found with porcelain or glass knobs.

Just a side note: my 1908 house has all its original hardware on every door--mortise key locks on every one with rectangular plates and round knobs in bronze finish. The upstairs and attic are all edged with egg-and-dart moldings, while the main floor has all plain ones except the front door. My pocket doors have simple brass plates where you can set your fingertips to pull the doors closed--no locking mechanism whatsoever. My basement door is made of old 1/2" tongue and groove beadboard, as is the wall on the inner side of the basement stairs--and that door has a simple hook and eye to keep it closed.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 4:45AM
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Your best source for what you're looking for is The House of Antique Hardware in Oregon. They have an extremely well done and informative website as well as a wide selection of locks, knobs, etc.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 5:48AM
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ditto House of Antique hardware. I've been able to find some reproduction parts there that I have not been able to find elsewhere. Also check out Rejuvenation as they have the lock sets that you are looking for.

also if you have a salvage yard, you can always find piles of old interior mortise locks for cheap.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 1:34PM
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If you can find a mortise lock in good condition, a decent locksmith will be able to find a skeleton key to make it work. We were able to get masters for all locks in our house. Lowe's has latchbolts with striker and skeleton keys for great prices. They are in polished brass only though.

This post was edited by maryinthefalls on Sat, Jul 6, 13 at 16:10

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 4:06PM
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as far as what to do with the skeleton keys, leave them in the locks or??? what my grandma did was put a ribbon through the key and hang it over the doorknob. the key was there when it was needed and did not fall out as it might in a door which was frequently used. I'd forgotten all about that until I read this post. talk about a blast from the past! (smiling)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 8:35PM
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Everyone, thank you so much for your advice. Egbar, your grandmother had a wonderful idea, glad to help someone remember a pleasant memory! :) I will post back if I have more comments or questions.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 5:03PM
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I have had many great experiences with Charleston Hardware. Give Brad a call. You'll be glad you did!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 6:29PM
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I've got a 1905 home and have been adding new mortise locksets on the new interior doors - I know the hunt to find the right hardware.

There are two companies that make high quality interior mortise locksets that I've found - Nostalgic Warehouse is one and the other is Emtek.

Both brands are carried at House of Antique Harware online. Rejuvention ( also sells one of the brands - I believe the NostalgicWarehouse ones - and you can customize for interior privacy, dummy, etc and choose finish, knob, locking type (latch, key) backplate. But the price reflects that ($150-ish per set). Some other sites carry the Nostalgic Warehouse hardware and you should search for that online once you figure out what backplate style you need at a cheaper price.

For bathrooms, I prefer the latch type without the keyhole, it's easier than inserting a skeleton key.

In the end -- $100+ for each set was cost prohibitive for me since I'm doing a complete remodel and an addition so continued searching and lucked out finding the "Prime Line" series at at around $30 a set. Yes, there is a difference in quality, but it's what I could afford at the moment so it's worked ok so far. They are all skeleton keys and I've got the keys hanging on the knobs with ribbon like others have mentioned.

Here's a picture of my new doors and the Prime Line set with my Dad testing it after he mortised it out.

This post was edited by kjo_tx on Thu, Jul 11, 13 at 10:53

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 10:45AM
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