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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.
Knockers were common and practical in Dickens era but theyve since become replaced by the electric doorbell as the standard alert. Some people use them as decorative ornaments but unlike the knockers from the mid-1800s they serve no practical purpose. Doorways and entrances help define the architectural style of the rest of the structure and any elegance bestowed upon them sets a house apart from its neighbors. While the porch is a gathering place a quality door knocker is the focal point of the entryway. Door knockers dont have a written history but as long as there have been doors there have been alerts that signal a visitor.
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Origins of door knockers A door knocker is an item of door furniture that allows people outside a house to alert those inside to their presence. It has a part fixed to the door and a part (usually metal) which is attached to the door by a hinge that is lifted and used to strike a plate fitted to the door making a noise. The strike plate if present would be supplied and fitted with the knocker. Door knockers are often ornate but may be no more than a simple fitting with a metal bob or ring. Many older period houses and mansions often have intricate knockers in the shape of human heads or mythical beasts. The earlier designs were based on statues that would stand in front of ancient Greek houses. These statues were created with distorted grotesque features and were thought to be used to ward of malignant spirits and witches.