ARCHITECT contributor Mike Jackson says though they may be small in stature, hinges, locks, handles, and knobs are some of the most critical components of an inhabited structure. And as with many building elements, the particular style or aesthetic of the day has an impact on their design.

As part of its monthly series that explores the historical applications of building materials and systems through resources from the Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL), ARCHITECT has rounded up a collection of catalogs from the BTHL chronicles the evolution of hardware design and technology from the late 19th century through to the mid-20th century.

Catalogue of Building Hardware and Tools, Wm. M. McClure & Brother, Philadelphia, 1860
This Civil War–era catalog bills its door hardware as “the most perfect and durable article ever introduced.” The manufacturer sold door knobs in decorated porcelain, silver glass, silver plate, and bronzed glass finishes.

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