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The finish should match the rest of the hardware. Door knockers not only come in many finishes they are available in many types of metal. The most stable metal and probably the most common is brass. Brass is easy to machine and cast into shapes. It polishes into a bright gold like finish or satins easily and is easy to maintain. Brass also electroplates readily. This allows it to be nickel or copper plated to simulate pewter and bronze finishes. Because brass is non ferrous it will not rust. It will tarnish though for this reason a good lacquer finish is needed or your purchase will look terrible in a very short time.
I find them fascinating historically as well as artistically. Over time many common designs have evolved. Some designs have turned out to be more popular than others. The urn style is among these. The ornaments and patterns have changed but the basic shape has remained. It has always interested me as to what made the classic urn style so well liked. The look does sort of resemble an ancient urn but in reality it does not really look much like one. In contemporary times people have little relation the urn with the exception of a burial container following cremation. What then makes the urn shape so popular for a door knocker? There are varying versions of the ascendance of the design. It is said that the classic urn shape has its origins in the Grecian or Victorian times.
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Although the popularity of specific designs changes over time there are lovely patterns that are always a classic and welcome addition to any entryway set. Lions and Animals Animal door knockers lions especially are a timeless pattern for most any architectural style. The dramatic designs offer something unique to the home and can be coordinated with most pre-existing door hardware. One of the most wonderful examples is shown below a hand cast solid brass lion head door knocker. Doctors Door Knockers This pattern may not be as well known today but at one point it was a method of identifying the profession of the home owner for potential clients.