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They're items we rarely think about, but door handles have been in use for centuries, although America began manufacturing them in the 1850's. Back in colonial days, door handles were constructed out of wood or string to form a basic latch. The traditional round door handle made an appearance in the late-eighteenth century. Door hardware was almost exclusively imported until decorative door handles were displayed at the Centennial Exposition of 1876.
Early door handles were made of a wide variety of materials. Glass knobs (either made of pressed or cut glass), wooden knobs, and ceramic knobs were popular through the nineteenth century into the first decade of the twentieth century. Knobs made of metal were typically made of several soldered pieces, until the mid-1850's when the casting process was developed.
The Victorian era produced a profusion of decorative cast bronze, or brass, door handles. Over 1,000 antique door handle designs from this period have been cataloged by collectors.
Locking devices on door handles are a necessity, and processes to machine steel locks were utilized starting in 1896. Modern door handlesets feature spring locks, dead bolts, or electronic devices that require a key code or combination.