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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.
There is nothing visible on the inside when surface mounting is used. If this is the first installation of a door knocker on this door either method may be used. If you are replacing an existing door knocker that has a through the door mount you will have the existing holes in the door to consider. Is it engraved? What are you going to engrave? Is your purchase engraveable? These questions need to be thought out before you purchase. It is advisable to purchase your door knocker from the same company that is going to engrave it. This way you should receive good advice as to what can be done and for how much money. You must also consider that engraving could damage the surface.
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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.