The world was a different place in 1870 – in most ways it was terrible. Women had practically no rights, racism was even more rampant than today (slavery had just been abolished, on paper), and residential indoor plumbing was pretty rare.* Life wasn’t too bad (comparably) if you were a land-owning white male, but decidedly worse for everyone else.
But the detailed bronze (or old brass?) hardware was incredible.**
With the industrial revolution came mass-produced cast metalwork, introducing the residential market to ornately-decorated household hardware. While more affordable and mass-produceable than before, possession of these items still delineated class (and caste) in a community. (Have I mentioned how over-the-top this house is? Excess is a top criteria for the Queen Anne style, and the Superintendent apparently took that very seriously.)
I went through the house last weekend and took pictures of some of the more remarkable examples of this copper-based excess.
The pocket doors have ornate handles. We’re on a quest to find skeleton keys that fit!
The doorknobs throughout the house are intricately patterned,
but none as large and ornate as the front door.
The awesome cabinet (soon to be kitchen island) in the prep/mud room has heavy brass/bronze*** handles, and individual locks – all with detailed patterns.
I love the window locks in particular – they have something of a steampunk feel to them: more complicated than necessary, but so cool in the process.
The hinges astound me more than any of the other intricate metalwork throughout the house. These are on the inside, so when the door is closed they are completely hidden. And they are some of the most finely detailed examples of brass/bronze fixtures in the house/that I’ve ever seen.
A remarkable number of these original pieces remain in the house, 150 years later. But one of the more annoying (or fun) parts of the restoration/renovation process will be finding age-appropriate/matching replacements for the ones that are missing.
*For more information on how important this is to me, see The Water or The Septic Tank.
**This does not make it okay, just a peripheral positive of the age.
***That website is interesting, and suggests these items are likely brass. I’ll test it out next time I’m at the house and see if I can actually figure it out…