Vintage hardware is awesome. I could probably try to find more creative ways to say that, but I figured simpler is better. The bottom line is that vintage hardware, whether it is actually vintage or a well made replica, is a solidly constructed, beautiful piece of an old house.
Vintage hardware has weight and significance to it. Cheap replicas, and run of the mill hardware today feel cheap and weak and they are. Many are made from plastic painted to look like metal or made from such a thin metal that you can bend or break them without much effort.
Patina, that beautiful color of age, is something that can only be attained with time. To me, patina is the test of whether a door knob or sash lock and any other piece of hardware was well made. Fake painted finishes don’t patina, they wear out. Plastics don’t patina. Bronze, now that patinas!
So where can you find the good stuff? Well you’ve got a few options. Some are local and a lot are on the internet. It just depends on what you are looking for. Here are my best sources for quality vintage hardware:
Local Salvage Yards
Architectural salvages yards have a wealth of old house parts and vintage hardware is definitely high on the list. My local stores have a huge variety of hinges, door knobs, entry sets, cranks, pulls, lifts. It’s all there looking for a new old home. These are a great place to find a missing piece of hardware to match what you already have. Do a Google search in your area for architectural salvage or antiques and I’m sure you’ll find a few local options. This will likely be the place to find the best deals.
This is one of my favorite places to buy vintage hardware replicas. The hardware here is top notch and very hard to discern from the original. Everything is solidly made just like the real stuff. They even have a finish available called “antique-by-hand” which is a living finish that comes with the patina already on it. It’s not a fake painted on finish, but it actually continues to patina like the original stuff. I have switch plate covers with this finish in my own house and they’re fantastic!
What can’t you find on eBay these days? I have bought dozens of reclaimed window pulleys, sash locks, glass door knobs and lots of other vintage hardware on eBay for super cheap. Most of the stuff on here needs to be cleaned up since some homeowner usually just pulled it off their house and is trying to make a few dollars rather than trashing the hardware. This is the place for deals!
You can learn how to clean up old hardware in my posts:
Van Dyke’s has a lot of hardware. This website is mostly replicas, but again they are well made replicas. You can find anything from door and window hardware to bath fixtures and chandeliers. There is a lot to find on this website.
This is like an online salvage yard. Historic Houseparts has a pretty big selection of reclaimed original hardware along with replica restoration hardware. Most everything has already been restored for you, but the truly vintage stuff still maintains that awesome patina. There are some hard to find items here and the selection is always changing so if you don’t find what you’re looking for check back often.
This is a little mom and pop type website that has a good deal of hard to find vintage hardware from the 1880’s to 1950’s. I haven’t ordered from them before, but I check it occasionally if I have a really rare piece that I need to match. I also like that they tell you a little history about each piece they sell. No replicas here, just the real old stuff.
With a name like VintageHardware.com, they better have some old stuff right? Mostly, you’ll find quality replicas here. I’ve found that their selection is a bit smaller and overall less useful than some of the others I have already mentioned, but they have some pieces that I can’t find anywhere else. If you’ve got a weird piece of hardware you’re trying to match and you can’t find it anywhere else, this might be the place.
Kilian hardware is the place I buy my spring bronze weatherstripping, but they also have a lot of other hardware for old homes. Another hard to find item you can get here is sash chain to replace any that may have broken. They have a wide selection. Also items like strap hinges, sash pulleys, door knobs are all here.