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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.
It can be difficult to find a new door knocker with the same BC dimension. Especially if the original one has been there for many years. There is no standard for the BC dimension. The BC for the most part is determined by the design of the knocker. The mounting lugs used to attach the hardware are usually placed at a thicker portion of the casting. This is to give them more strength. Sometimes you have to settle for a replacement that is close. If the two BCs are within 1/4 or 3/8 inch of each other you can usually enlarge the holes in the door a bit to make the fit. If you are lucky the existing mounting hardware will cover the enlarged holes.
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This is also true of gargoyles which have similar caricatured faces in order to prevent spirits and ghosts from entering the house. There were also good luck knockers which were thought to have magical or healing properties and were used to encourage good luck into the home. These door knockers utilized a motif of good luck charms such as horse-shoes stars suns and flowers. The popular hand shaped knocker is often seen in Muslim countries and was believed to symbolize the Hand of Fatima which protected the house from evil. It was also thought to indicate that the occupants of that house were followers of the Muslim faith.