Old Doorknobs with New TrademarksBy Mark Chervenka
Old Doorknobs with New Trademarks
Genuinely old porcelain door knobs continue to be made with newly etched trademarks of collectible companies and brands. The etching is about one-sixteenth inch below the surrounding surface. Etched areas are then colored to match colors used on the original trademarks.
Recently etched door knobs are typically offered as sets for $75 to $95 per set at markets, malls and shows. The plain white porcelain knobs used as the raw stock can commonly be picked up for $3 to $5 a set; less if bought in large quantities as salvage.
Although white porcelain knobs are the most frequent subject for new etching, the process can also be used on almost any other nonmetallic knob. This includes both clear and colored solid glass knobs and knobs made of black porcelain.
Keep in mind that these genuinely old knobs will show all the wear associated with years of use. Nicks, scratches and staining are obvious on most all the knobs. The metal hardware is invariably rusted, or at the very least, badly discolored. But virtually no vintage door knobs, especially inexpensive white porcelain knobs, were ever etched in this manner with these trademarks and brand names.
The exact process which produces the etchings is unknown. A dealer who sells the knobs said he believes the etchings were made by sandblasting. But similar etchings can also be produced by digitally controlled lasers commonly used to engraved trophies and awards. Whatever the process, the etched surface is fairly rough. This roughness, generally concealed by the coloring which partially fills the etching, is obvious with close inspection.
If the recently etched knobs are sold as new creations, there's no problem. Many persons keep their collections in special rooms and they might well appreciate a matching door knob that leads to their treasures. Just be aware that none of these knobs were produced by the companies etched on their surface.