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Antiques Considered - July 6, 2011

Recently I received an inquiry about this doorknocker that he purchased years ago from an antique dealer here in Virginia for $5.00.  It is cast iron and weighs several pounds.  It is encrusted with many layers of paint, the accumulation of which has lessened the crispness of the relief.  He used the knocker on his rear door, where unfortunately no one saw it.  Now his wife is urging him to sell it.

This piece dates from the middle of the nineteenth century and is typical of the style of

the period.  The upper rectangular section was intended for a brass nameplate and the lower oval one for a similar plate with a street number on it, as the iron could not be engraved.

The heaviness of the piece and the thick design are typical of the American Empire style.  We should think of this knocker in the context of a large Greek Revival house with a massive entrance doorway.  I strongly suggest soaking the piece in paint remover and then brushing forcefully to try to remove as much of the encrustations as feasible.

Blasting it with baking soda is another possibility as a means of restoring the original crispness.  Neither method should be expensive, and the result would enhance the appearance.  To protect it from the elements, I recommend applying a thin coat of lacquer.  Most importantly, speaking only for myself, I recommend against selling it, as it is a handsome addition to any doorway, even if it did formerly grace the rear door.

As is, the knocker is worth $75, but cleaned properly the price nearly could double, as most restorations have to accept reproductions.  Real pieces such as this one are rare.  Both cast and wrought iron decorative items are quite popular, and this is one that would find a good market.
Happy Antiquing!

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