Interior Georgian brass knobs were spun with a pressed brass rose. Roses were normally surface fixed with brass slotted screws, although occasionally screw fixings were hidden at the junction between the rose and door knob shank.
Brass was much more expensive than cast iron and so was kept for front doors, reception rooms and main bedrooms. Roses were generally made from the same material as their knob, with the exception of wooden knobs, where brass was used.
Ironmongery became progressively more plain for minor rooms, servants’quarters and back areas, which were more likely to use cast iron.
Designs for doors changed to suit these styles and their ironmongery was selected to follow suit. Later, in very wealthy households, the principal or reception apartments may have had ormolu (gilded bronze), and, later. ceramic (china or porcelain with a transparent glaze and occasionally gold lustre decoration, or red earthenware with an opaque blackish glaze),ebony, cocoawood, bone horn, or ivory knobs. The choice depended on the overall decorative scheme for the room; for example, black wooden knobs are found in dining rooms, where the marble chimney-piece is usually also black.
Regular polishing will keep brass looking attractive and in the best condition, although chemicals for cleaning brass may harm adjoining paintwork and stone if used carelessly.
Very good reproduction of a spun brass knob, now made in cast brass, with a pressed rose (back plate) are available. www.inbrass.co.uk, stock suitable numerals, rectangular main door handles and letter plates.
Covering the adjoining stone or timber with a plastic or cardboard template can make cleaning easier
All door furniture should be left on when painting a door, and the paint taken up over the sides leaving the front face exposed for polishing.
After polishing, wash the polish residue off with warm soapy water (as brass polishing materials actually promote tarnishing if left on), dry and apply a thin film of beeswax furniture polish to keep brassware polished for longer.
A thick cast brass rose is inappropriate for the early Georgian period.
Aim to use new brass numerals specially cast to match those most commonly found.
The Victorian period was one of rapid development in Birkenhead with the arrival of the railways, heavy industry and rapid growth of trade in the mid to late 19th century. Many items for the building industry were now mass-produced, including door ironmongery. The wide choice available was displayed in builders’ merchant pattern books and catalogues, and was only tempered by cost and the influences of fashions.