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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.
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.
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The metal is actually an alloy (two or more metals mixed together); usually containing 85-99% tin and the rest copper. Lower-grade pewter has a bluish color because lead is also added. Although there is little practical use for the metal today its still a popular material for decorative objects because it is easy to produce while retaining an elegant texture.Copper is renowned for its ability to withstand the natural elements; it is the only material that doesnt rust. Instead it oxidizes - which means it forms a unique green cover when exposed to oxygen (think of the statue of liberty). Besides aging gracefully copper doesnt physically deteriorate unlike other metals. The oxidation layer makes the metal stronger which reduces the need to replace any door knockers made out of copper.