The range of antique door handles that can be bought today is quite excellent and represents a good market interpretation of what was available many years ago. The first documentary invention evidence of the door handle comes from the USA where the first patent was established by a gentleman with the excellent name of Osbourn Dorsey in the year 1878. This is not the true story however as door knobs and handles were often illustrated in catalogues and pictures at least back into the 18th century and it could well be a long time before this date as the rulers and higher echelon of people who ruled the country were extremely rich and they would have wished to protect their wealth and property from the poorer elements of the populace.
The original black antique ranges used to be made of cast iron and were beaten and shaped into their final form by the blacksmith using a fire and anvil and hammer. Gradually these were replaced by steel models and eventually aluminium and brass alloys and now coated plastics. The shapes of the original black antique handles and door furniture varied according to the manufacturer and the amount of decoration that was required.
Some handles and door plates could be enormous and were solely designed to signify the wealth of the property concerned. The systems were the old latch type and these were eventually replaced by the newer rotating latch systems.
The present day designs are generally more modest in design with a well-balanced combination between the handle and the door plate, they are designed to fit most door opening and locking systems that can be found on the market today. The black cast iron appearance can be steel, alloy or even a plastic moulding manufacture and they all look excellent if the original moulding has been designed and made to represent accurately the antique models of bygone years. It is typically the beaten appearance that determines a good quality reproduction so it is worth getting a good supplier.
Plastic based handles give an excellent look but do not give quite the right feel, but can be excellent in the right places. The outer shapes are numerous, particularly in the door plate shape when they go from oblong to oblongs with fancy curves on the corners. There is also a tendency now to develop a range of modern antiques where the look is inherently antique but the shapes are quite modern and would not have been found in days of old.