Antique hardware items are sought after by collectors who appreciate the vintage feel and old-school elements they provide. Whether it is a drawer pull made of filigreed metal or a gold-plated spigot, antique hardware enhances whatever it is placed on. Brass, bronze, and cast iron are just some of the options you can choose from.What kinds of vintage hardware is there?
- Furniture Hardware: Different types of this hardware include cabinet hardware, hooks, shelf brackets, switch plate and outlet covers, heating grates and vents, and door hardware.
- Cabinet Hardware: This hardware can include cup and drop drawer pulls.
- Victorian-style: Victorian-style pulls can be ornate. They are also usually made of metal.
- Escutcheons: These are decorative plates for knobs, pulls, and keyholes.
- Ornamental heads: Unique heads are common in vintage hardware. Some nails have antique rose heads, some cabinet latches come with porcelain knobs, and some coat hooks have whimsical shapes.
- Door hardware: Antique door hardware that is available includes door knobs and handles, locks, door knockers, door plates and backplates, hinges, and door stops.
They can be made from many different types of materials, including:
- Cast iron: This metal is an alloy of carbon and iron. Welders use it because it can be cast in a mold.
- Crystal glass: This is a fine, transparent and colorless glass that contains at least 24 percent lead oxide.
- Solid brass: Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper that has many practical and decorative uses.
- Zinc alloy: Besides brass, other zinc alloys are nickel, silver, and bronze.
- Silver: Types of silver used for hardware include Argentium, which is 92.5 percent silver alloyed with copper and germanium to make it tarnish-resistant. Silver-filled pieces are made by pressure heating silver to fuse with a brass core.
- Satin Nickel: This is nickel-plated brass that is lacquered to give it a smooth, distinctive finish.
- Gold: Gold often means gold-plated, since solid, 24 karat gold is too soft for everyday use. If the piece isn't gold plated, the gold is alloyed with another metal such as copper or nickel to give it strength.
- Porcelain: This is clay and kaolin fired at very high temperatures to make it vitreous and waterproof.
Antique hardware should be cleaned before use. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when cleaning your hardware:
- Take the hardware off the furniture or door before cleaning.
- If the antique hardware is made of wood or glass, spritz it with a water and vinegar solution. You can also use a drop or two of mild dishwashing liquid dissolved in lukewarm water.
- If the hardware is made of brass, use a cleanser made specifically for the metal, or make a paste of baking soda and vinegar.
- If the hardware is made of copper, clean it with a cleanser made of copper or a mildly acidic substance such as lemon or vinegar.
- Wipe off ceramic hardware with a damp cloth.
- If needed, you can use an old toothbrush with soft bristles to clean the hardware, regardless of material.