Glass Furniture Knobs

While glass knobs may not be properly classed as brasses or hardware, we may well devote a few lines to objects which so intrigued the interest of the i820,s and i83o's.

These knobs were made largely of pressed glass in a wide range of patterns and in colors grave and gay—clear white, opaque white, opalescent white, true opal, deep and light blue, yellow, amber, black. Some were of mercury blown glass, and some were cut. They were equipped with brass bolts set into an orifice at the back of the knob by means of plaster of Paris. Often the brass bolts and nuts were plated in imitation of silver; and some glass knobs may be found on which the metal parts were of pewter. Quantities of these colorful knobs were turned out at Sandwich, Pittsburgh, and many of the other numerous American glass factories operating at that time. These glass knobs were fragile, and complete and intact sets which have come down to us from the comparatively recent time of their vogue are therefore not often encountered.

Many of these knobs have been reproduced; but, such was the diversity of size, design, and color in the originals, that if we need one or two to complete an old set, we shall very likely be unable to match them.

While glass furniture knobs call forth no cheers from that class of collector which seeks butterfly tables and chests of drawers with original cotter-pin brasses, we may acknowledge that the presence of these knobs upon a piece of late mahogany furniture does present a rather pleasing appear ance—and they certainly portray a period in the history of our furniture handles which we may not completely ignore.


Hand-forged nails were used in some locations on our American furniture of the very earliest times. Simple six-board chests were constructed which were entirely held together by these nails, which, further, were commonly employed on drawers, moldings, cornices, and the backs of cabinet pieces. From an unknown source has come a mistaken but oft-quoted opinion that "nails are not old" and that "all antiques are put together with wooden pins." Some inexperienced collectors seem to look with suspicion upon any nails wherever they may be placed on early furniture. Nails are most certainly ancient devices and the hand-forging of nails was a most important industry in the American Colonies.

Of course the first hand-wrought nails were imported, and we know that, for a long time, nails and nail rods, largely made in England from fine Russian and Swedish iron, were brought into the Colonies. However, iron was produced in the Colonies by the middle of the seventeenth century; and probably this soft iron was beaten by hand into sheets and later formed into nails.

But in early times rolling and slitting mills were established and then turned out nail rods in various weights from native or Russian bar iron imported through England. The use, in hand-wrought nails, of a considerable quantity of this fine European iron probably accounts for their superior qualities. These nail rods were cut and forged by hand into the required sorts and sizes, and whole communities and families busied themselves with the making of nails, brads, and tacks. They must have worked hard, for the expression "to work like a nailer" is in country districts

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment