Wanna meet my Yale & Towne hardware?

The other day Bo Sullivan asked me about the hardware in the Cross House.

I was excited about the inquiry, for the hardware is a sight to behold!



There are two pair of entry doors. A solid outer pair, and a beveled glass inner pair. Each pair has glorious oh là là hardware.


Locks and Builders Hardware: A Hand Book for Architects

From: Locks and Builders Hardware: A Hand Book for Architects


Bo commented:

It looks like all your hardware is by Yale & Towne.
The very nice entry hardware pattern is known as “Kelp” and is one of Yale’s most artistic and highly regarded patterns of the era. The reticulation (open cast work) in the plate and the unusual open-work knob are distinguishing characteristics, but it is the awesome organic quality of the pattern overall that really sets it apart.  Kelp is also a great example of the sublime quality of dimensional modeling that Yale acheived in their master patterns – extremely tight and controlled, and yet viscerally subtle and organic in line and surface.
Although Yale classified this pattern as Gothic, the design reflects the interesting fascination with organic marine motifs that was popular in the late 1880s.  It is almost like Romanesque gone wild.
Kelp included at least 56 pieces in the family (how many do you have?).
The Antique Doorknob Collectors of America refer to the Kelp knob design in their reference book Victorian Decorative Art as H-409.
Some more kelp hardware.


The entry door hinges.

The entry door hinges.



The doorknob sets for the first and second floors. Note the stars.


Locks and Builders Hardware: A Hand Book for Architects

From: Locks and Builders Hardware: A Hand Book for Architects


From Bo:

The interior pattern with the stars and prominent anthemions is called Austerlitz and it is in the Empire style, reflecting one of the early 1890s’ most popular decorative trends.  The Empire style was a free interpretation of motifs popular during Napoleon’s First Empire of 1804-1814.  The name, of course, comes from Napoleon’s greatest military victory in 1805, near that small village in what was then the Austrian Empire, but is now Slavkov u Brua in the Czech Republic.

Auserlitz was also a popular pattern, with at least 40 different pieces in the family (collect them all!).  The Antique Doorknob Collectors of America refer to the Austerlitz knob design in VDA as J-307.

Your hardware is all cast bronze, and would have had one of a wide range of different finishes, hard to discern in existing condition but perhaps preserved inside a closet or in some other location that rarely saw light or hand.  And any restoration should avoid bright polishing and use appropriate slotted screws.  Always slotted screws in an old house, man.  If your knobs are loose and need fine tuning in fit, etc., that can be a post for a future date.



First floor hinges. Note again the stars. The second floor hinges are plain.



The pocket door pulls. The house has seven pocket doors. The windows pulls are identical, but are smaller and fit horizontally. Bo writes: “The pocket door escutcheon shows the original finish pretty well, an antique or oxidized copper. “



There are two of these extraordinary door pulls. This one was, obviously, not originally in this location (the door to the butler’s pantry).



All the secondary rooms (kitchen, house keeper’s room, etc.) have very simple knob sets.


Amazingly, most of the original hardware in still in the house.

Bo continues:

Linus Yale, Jr. died tragically in 1868 just after inventing the cylinder lock and founding of the company with Towne. Your lock cylinder, and everyone else’s with his name on it, is like a tiny memorial to his contributions to lock history.


Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.37.01 PM

Linus Yale, Jr.


The “bible” for Yale hardware – and indeed for understanding most of the hardware styles of the 1885-1905 period – is the book “Locks & Builder’s Hardware, a Hand Book for Architects” by Henry Towne.

Available on Google Books, this highly sought after volume devotes chapters to each of the different “Schools of Design” and includes all the Yale patterns in each.  If you ever wondered what the difference between French Renaissance and Italian Renaissance was, this is your bedside read.  Small but thick, if you can find a copy for under $200 in decent condition (the binding did not hold up very well in most cases), get it!

For the  Gothic School, see page 403, and for Kelp, see page 410 and other pieces on other pages. For the Empire School, see page 557, and for Austerlitz, see page 560 and other pieces on other pages.

Thank, Bo!!!!!!!!


  1. Sandra G. McNichol on March 4, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Yes, thanks so much, Bo, and Ross, for sharing this great information. I LOVE old hardware, and Ross, your Cross House fancy stuff is so so beautiful.

  2. Carla Windsor Brown on March 4, 2016 at 6:57 am

    I never knew old hardware would fascinate me!

  3. Sharon on March 4, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Wow, your hardware is stunning. I admit, I’m a little jealous. LOL My house had Sears-quality plated stuff that long ago lost all of the plating.

  4. Becky DeJesus on May 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Interesting. We have decorative hinges all over our house, even in the basement. They are one my favorite things about the house.

  5. Seth Hoffman on October 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    That hardware is amazing. You are incredibly fortunate to have so much of it remaining.

    The tooled hinges are one of my favorite parts about hardware in the Victorian era. I just love that such attention was paid to a rarely-observed piece.

  6. djd_fr on January 15, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I can linger in the hardware aisle even in a store today.

  7. Susan Coolen on March 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I think you need to come and visit me. Bring your van. Up in my attic is a YALE metal bedframe. It came w/the house. No idea where it came from. I kept it cuz it fascinated me. I KNEW there were Yale locks…but bedframes?

  8. Rick S on August 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    The house I grew up in was built in 1896. The hardware was by Russell & Erwin. They were bronze backplates and brass knobs for the first floor formal rooms and Copper plated steel for kitchen and second floor bed rooms.
    Your hardware was very high style, and you are so lucky it is still there. Beautiful.

  9. Architectural Observer on May 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    I just noticed that your door knob appears to be a Celtic cross…. do you think Squires was having fun when he specified this for the Cross family? That would perhaps explain why the Gothic-themed “Kelp” pattern would be chosen for the entry of a Queen Anne Free Classic!

  10. Laurie L Weber on January 30, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    I know I’m late to the party, but had to say how gorgeous the hardware is. So special. And 7 pocket doors?! (we had one on the farm. When you closed the stairway and bedroom door, opened the linen closet door, you had an elevator! Played with it all the time 🙂 Thx for the memory.

  11. Christine on March 18, 2021 at 5:53 am

    Love this post! I am a hardware girl. It is wonderful to see the original hardware in place and so much of it. My house is a 1887 and had none of the original when we bought it. I have added period correct but it is still not the same.

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