History of Cabinetry Hardware

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Cabinetry hardware history is deep and rich, with many of its advancements being made post-industrial revolution.

During the late 17th century handles were made by hand. This would cause them to lack uniformity in size and shape. This hardware would be less detailed and will be seen as having a flat base and a hanging handle. During this time, brass and iron were the materials most used. This style of craftsmanship continued until the 18th century when the Industrial Revolution began. It was during this time that there was a shift from simplicity to baroque. There were new handle shapes developed using a moveable central rod that is used to this day. The late 18th century featured a smoother finish and copper was added to the brass molding, giving the metal a red tone. These complex designs stayed popular through to the 19th century when trends started being influenced by neoclassicism and lion heads and classic motifs started being widely seen. Due to the industrial manufacturing of the time screws and finishes began to have a sense of uniformity to them. These developments and appearances lasted until the early 20th century.[2][3]

The early 1900s had a huge shift to different materials, shapes, and colors. Rather than the intricate details of the previous century, hardware leaned more toward simple, clean, and practical. Bakelite and Acrylic came into popularity during the 1920s-1930s with the Art Deco influence. These materials allowed for more colorful designs to be incorporated into hardware, contrasting the bronze, brass, copper, and iron used centuries prior. This creative boom only lasted a short period of time due to the start of World War II and never fully went mass-market.[3]

During and post-war there was an appearance of Modern Hardware. This period lasted between the 1930s-1950s and new finishes were introduced. Plastic hardware stayed in use, but the appearance of chrome-plated steel and aluminum was introduced as well.[1][3]

The current trend of hardware is known as the Contemporary Period. Solid, clean-line handles and knobs are seen in most homes, but there are many who choose not to stray from the trends seen in the past. The Victorian-style hardware has been rebranded as classic and country.[1][3]

[1] “A Brief History of Cabinet Hardware.” Mockett, 1 May 2017, www.mockett.com/blog/blog-2017-cabinet-hardware.html.

[2] “A Short History of Cabinet Handle.” Goodwyn London UK Luxury Cabinet Handles Knobs Modern Door Cabinet Fittings, goodwynlondon.com/a-short-history-of-cabinet-handle/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2023.

[3] Burke, Danielle. “Historic Handles: Analysing Brassware to Determine Furniture Age.” Fine Art Restoration Company, Fine Art Restoration, 19 Jan. 2023, fineart-restoration.co.uk/news/historic-handles-analysing-brassware-to-determine-furniture-age/.

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