Considering Arts and Crafts Period Hardware

mackintosh hardwareArchitectural styles, for homes, furniture, and hardware, continued to evolve from the 18th century through the first half of the 20th century. Horton Brasses’ selection changes, ebbing and flowing from ornate to angular, and toward the latter variety is Arts and Crafts hardware.

This simple hardware style, characterized by straight lines, functionality, and hand-hammered metal, had its heyday from 1890 through 1915. The style, however, is said to have appeared as early as the Victorian Age and lasted in use until World War II.

William Morris, a poet, writer, and designer, is considered one of the key founders of the Arts and Crafts style, and this architecture – pervading from home design through the finer aspects like furniture hardware – is said to have first been developed in the British Isles and then later spread to mainland Europe and North America.

The simplicity and refined look of Arts and Crafts hardware is considered a reaction to the opulence and industrialization of the Victorian period. Some consider the hardware, and the more practical, environmentally-sensitive home designs of the era, to have a medieval or folk character. Designs from house shapes to hardware had an organic quality, either way, with all parts functioning together and considered to fully compose an environment.

Arts and Crafts coincided with expansion into and exploration of California and the U.S. Southwest. These two factors essentially formed the Mission style – which has similarities but distinct differences. A Spanish colonial influence dominates Mission-style architecture, furniture, and hardware. While the relationship between these three aspects of the home is similar, the structure itself was characterized by stucco walls, red roof tiles, and arched shapes.

Arts and Crafts hardware, aside from having a linear and functional design, is often characterized by darker colors and finishes. This hardware style is relatively easy to come by, and for a truly authentic look, consider ordering knobs, pulls, and hinges with an oiled bronze or antique brass finish. Some of the more common pieces are:

Hinges. Arts and Crafts hinges are available in mortise, surface mounted, and half-mortise designs. Mortise hinges have a ball-tipped, loose-pin design, while surface-mounted, with an L- or strap shape, encompasses decorative and functional forms. Half-mortise is a hybrid of the two.

Knobs. Ranging from round or oval to square and pyramid-shaped, Arts and Crafts knobs attach with a single screw. Although brass or bronze is common, other period materials include stained wood, crystal, or glass. Such knobs, as well, almost always feature a back plate.

Pulls and Handles. Attaching with two screws instead of one, Arts and Crafts pulls and handles are mounted to the front or from the back of a door or drawer. Bin, or crescent or half-moon, shapes offer a curved simplicity that’s comfortable to grip. Pulls and handles may additionally feature a loose or rigid sash lift, also called a bucket handle. For getting the right fit for your furniture, all Arts and Crafts pulls and handles are sized by boring, or the distance between screws.