Glass Door Knobs: The Vintage Classic that’s Here to Stay

At one point in time or another — 80 or so years ago — intricate glass door knobs with lovely mirrored star-burst centers were the standard in new homes. Nowadays, they are mined like diamonds at salvage yards and flea markets. However, there are still a few companies left that sell quality ironmongery, glass door knobs included, that could measure up to its antique counterparts. The enduring craftsmanship and design have earned them preferential status among homeowners of new and old houses alike.

Emblems of Wartime Shortages

Glass doorknobs date way back to 1826, before Mortise locksets and Kwiksets proliferated, when the system for pressing molten glass into molds was started, but they did not become ubiquitous until after 1917 when the United States entered World War I. 

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During that era, the majority of glass knobs were clear and featured six to 12 facets. Their faces were flat so you could peek inside to see bullet, star, and pin-prick ornate designs molded into their bases. Less common, however, were colored-glass knobs in cobalt blues robin’s egg, emerald, white milk, amber, violet, and yellow-green Vaseline glass. Shapes also varied, from crystal globes with tiny bubbles inside to ovals with incised star patterns— a famous 1920s Art Deco style that still works well with contemporary interiors today.

The use of glass door knobs persisted through the ’40s, but by the ’50s styles in both hardware and architecture had changed, and folks began favoring cleaner, sleeker, and modern lines in metals. Before long, developers were furnishing doors in suburban ranch houses with utilitarian-looking steel orbs.

How to Buy the Right One

For knobs, you would want to measure the thickness of the door and compare it with the span between the knobs to guarantee a snug fit. Although spindles are sometimes too short, threaded ones are sometimes too long and may need cutting down with a hacksaw. 

Prices for vintage-looking glass knobs vary widely, depending on style, condition, rarity, and color. Commonly, for 12-sided molded-glass knobs, expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $50 per pair. Sets of six- or eight-sided glass knobs cost between $60 and $100, while a pair of cut-crystal balls can go for as high as $500. The most valuable and costly are cobalt, red, and Vaseline-glass knobs. Such exquisitely fine knobs were used in mansions at the entrances to formal areas, such as dining rooms parlors, and where homeowners entertained guests.

Today, hardware-store-variety glass knobs cost as little as $10 a pair, but the materials and craftsmanship are far inferior to the quality ironmongery that bespoke door hardware companies offer. “The old glass has a watery look and refracts light differently,” says Kittle of knobs gently worn by time and use. “And when you hold it in your hand, it just feels better.”

If you are in search for a top-notch door hardware supplier in Singapore, Equip-Design offers just the right solution. They carry top international brands for quality locksets, cabinet knobs, pulls and locking mechanisms, giving you more quality options to choose from. Check out their website today to learn more about their products. 

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