disney door knocker
The first known knockers were made out of wrought iron. These simple ornaments consisted of a thick ring and a plate which were used in the 17th and 18th centuries throughout North America and Europe. Human faces (not ghastly like Jacob Marley) an animal faces were popular designs that are still used today. The craftsmanship on some of these knockers was elaborate enough to compare to the most-polished sculpture. Basically the purpose is to save the knuckles of visitors. Although they mainly serve as decoration they are still made of brass pewter iron or stainless steel to be durable enough to withstand outdoor elements. Plus they must be heavy enough to make a sound when they are tapped against a door. Cast iron styles have been favorites for a long time for their simplicity and sturdiness. They are also good for complimenting a Western theme. Pewter is another popular material.
Urn door knockers can be found that are mounted to the door by one of two methods. One method uses screws that pass through the knocker and screw into the door. The other method uses bolts or other hardware that goes entirely through the door. Either method works well on wooden doors but the through the door method works best on other doors. It seems that I have answered my own question. The urn door knocker is popular for many good reasons the least of which is that they really look great on the entrance way to a home. The selection of a door knocker may be a bit more difficult than you imagine.
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This will include determining the center to center distance (space between the holes) and selecting a knocker with this same measurement. By doing this there will not be a need to re-drill the door for a new knocker. Choosing a knocker is a very personal experience and there is no right or wrong choices. Pay attention to size and choose a knocker that will look appropriate on your door. If you are unsure it is a great idea to cut out a piece of paper that is the same height and width of the knocker you are thinking of using and tape it against the door (actual shape does not need to be cut out).
Although intricate door knockers are popular these days the origins of that knocker may be something far more regal than it simply looking nice on the door. Greeks were a bit picky about unannounced visits to their dwellings. It was considered a breach of etiquette to enter a dwelling without warning. Where Spartans would simply shout their arrival the more sophisticated Athenians preferred to use a door knocker. Doors had replaced flexible hangings to provide better safety and privacy. Upper class Greeks had slaves whose sole purpose was to answer the door. Its a bit like having a butler but one that was chained to the door to prevent them wandering off.