You can tell a lot from the features on the door itself — the type of wood panels, glass, finish — although you might even be able to identify the age of a home by the doorknob alone.
With space-age design elements like starbursts and swooshes, and the large backplates of various shapes and styles, some of the most popular mid-century modern door hardware that was available back in the fifties and sixties is easily identifiable.
Here’s a look at some of that era’s most iconic elements that were right there out in front.
Dramatic center-mounted ornamental starburst mid-century door hardware
Bright bronze vintage Schlage Astra design door handle and back plate (escutcheon)
Contrasting finishes are effective! This is the Astra design, in bright bronze, mounted on the wide Novo auxiliary escutcheon, finished in brushed chrome.
See how the plain background surface emphasizes the richness of the metals.
Vintage mid-century modern door hardware in retro designs (1959)
Polished brass with Holiday knob, and satin anodized aluminum with Concave door knob
Vintage mid-century modern space-age dull bronze door hardware (1959)
Vintage Schlage Pantheon design brass door hardware
Bright brass glorifies the softly-contoured circles of the Pantheon design with its 8″ escutcheon
Dull bronze finish door sets: Holiday & Thor knobs
Another starburst backplate design, and a circular model
Vintage Schlage Saturn design front door knob & backplate
The distinguished spherical knob of the Saturn design is mounted on a banded Riviera auxiliary escutcheon, 5-1/2″ in diameter. Both are finished in bright brass.
Polished brass mid-century door locks and backplates: Venus knobs
Vintage 1950s Schlage Color Accent doorway locks and backplates (1956)
NEW SCHLAGE LOCK STYLINGS LET YOU CREATE COLOR ACCENT DOORWAYS
Color-Accent is achieved by placing color behind an open-back escutcheon to contrast with door surfaces, harmonize with adjacent walls, or complement any part of the doorway.
Schlage’s original open-back stylings let you create the effect-by applying your favorite paint color, cutting a texture to size, or even placing a leftover piece of wallpaper behind the lock. The possibilities are unlimited and you are the designer.
Whether you’re building, buying, remodeling or just in the mood for a change, Schlage’s “Color-Accent” locks give you a wonderful new way to display a fresh fashion note in your doorway decor.
Top: Manhattan design escutcheon. Colored background is paint applied to door. Shown with Tulip design lock.
Bottom: Continental design open-back escutcheon. 11″ x 8″. Background is patterned metal cut to size and applied to door. Shown with Saturn design lock.
Vintage mid-century modern Atlas brass handle set (1959)
Vintage Kwikset Trim Rosettes mid-century door knob
Vintage Schlage Holiday knobs in dull bronze & anodized aluminum (1959)
Vintage mid-century modern Challenger brand brass doorknob (1959)
Iconic midcentury modern styles of doorknobs for the front door (1958)
Vintage Schlage brass mid-century modern front door knob (c1962)
For the front door: Your welcome said in sculptured metals by the famous locks of Schlage
Plus-shaped starburst mid-century brass door knob with deep blue backplate (c1962)
Lovely locks.. the jewels of home — Master craftsmen beauty-style the famous locks by Schlage
The eye and hand are one in pleasure when you meet with a Schlage lock. Though representing only a tiny fraction of total building costs, locks are always seen… say a great deal about family taste.
Today as for a quarter-century, the name that means lock leadership is Schlage. For Schlage designers endow security with charm, wed function with beauty in sculptured metals.
Your builder, architect and dealer know Schlage locks. You will be well-advised to ask for Schlage beauty-styling all through the house. Schlage Lock Company…San Francisco, New York. Vancouver. B.C.
Amerock Catalina: Vintage door & drawer pulls and knobs (1962)
Distinctive designs for replacement or new construction. Pol. Chromium, Polished Brass, Satin Copper, Satin Chromium or Dull Bronze. Large bases on pull cover old screw holes and marks — 3″ centers. Pulls start at 29 cents retail.
Amerock Contemporary: Vintage door & drawer pulls and knobs (1962)
At home in the kitchen, den, or living room. Beautifully finished in Satin Copper, Ebony Black and Gold, Polished Brass, Satin Chromium. Pulls from 39 cents retail.
The popular (and iconic) starburst design again, but with a concave Sapphire doorknob
Here’s a look at some of the other vintage styles of door knobs, pulls and handles that people were buying back then.
Amerock Modern Provincial: Vintage door & drawer pulls and knobs (1962)
Modern — with elegance and grace of period styling. Pulls and knobs with hinges to match. Choice of Ivory Gold, Antique Copper, Antique English, or Antique Silver finishes. Pulls from 49 cents retail.
Amerock Colonial: Vintage door & drawer pulls and knobs (1962)
Authentic Early American styling in Colonial Black, Antique Copper, and Antique English finishes. Choice of weathered or smooth-faced patterns. Pulls start at 32 cents retail.
Vintage painted porcelain Yale & Towne Decor Knobs door hardware (1953)
Recapturing an idea in home decoration reminiscent of an era of gracious living
Now… new beauty for your doors — Designs and colors that harmonize with every decorating scheme.
At last — hand-decorated door knobs that complete the beauty of your home . . . that pull your color scheme together!
Decor Knobs give your rooms new elegance with the exquisite patina, the sparkling decorator colors, the richness that only porcelain can capture. And remember, Decor Knobs are made by Yale & Towne, so you can be sure of their quality and durability.
See Decor Knobs today at your local gift shop or department store. You’ll find styles for every inside door . . . designs to complement every interior from Early American to Modern. And, you can install Decor Knobs yourself in a few minutes . . . simple directions show you how.
The Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company. Chrysler Building. New York 17, N. Y.
Revival doorknobs, handles, knockers & pulls from the ’60s (1965)
From American Home magazine – Winter 1965
There’s nothing like good hardware for achieving a perfectionist look. Take your pick of these quality pieces for doors, bathroom, and furniture.
1. Mexican black marble sphere knob and backplate of brass and malachite inlay is imported by Paul Assoc, $24.
2. Traditional colonial brass door knocker. Kraft Cabinet Hardware, $18.
3. “Calcutta,” an exterior doorknob in beaded symmetry has backplate in eight sizes, 2-5/8″ to 12″ diameter. Schlage Lock Co. As shown (8″), $155.
4. Versatile brass and malachite pull imported from Mexico can be used on drawers, cabinets, and doors. Available through Paul Assoc, $24.
5. French doorknob and backplate are brass. Chriscot Hardware Co, $26.
6. This sculptured brass doorknob is suitable for a contemporary setting. Functional because it fits the hand. Chriscot Hardware Co, $16.
7. Floral design is hand painted on white china doorknob. A choice of eight colors is available from the Chriscot Hardware Co, $8.
8. Louis XVI design and old-world craftsmanship are combined in this handsome brass door knocker from Paul Assoc, $69.99.
9. Swirl design door lever adds interest to plain door. Paul Assoc, $69.99.
10. Ancient Egyptian design motifs are highlighted in this important-looking exterior doorknob and plaque from Schlage Lock Co, $162.
11. Amusing key door knocker in brass costs $33, from Schlage Lock Co.
Vintage ’60s home decor hardware: Towel racks and hooks
1. Dress up a bathroom with brass towel rack. Chriscot Hardware Co, $36.
2. Towel ring is wonderful when space is limited. Matching brass bathroom accessories also available from Chriscot Hardware Co, $12.
3. Empire wreath hook, a classic design, is a space saver. Paul Assoc, $7.50.
4. Elegant glass and brass vanity shelf is perfect for holding your toiletries. Available from M Wolchonok & Son for about $18.95.
5. This five-hook brass bar is ideal for both bathroom and bedroom. This piece is also from M Wolchonok & Son. $6.50.