A Brief History Of The Door Handle

// beehive door knob, black door handle, Blog Post, door handle, door knob, doors, history, latches, pulls, rosewood beehive door knob, security, victorian rim locks // 3 Comments


Not a rock band from the 1960's, but a way to create partitioned privacy, security, and protection from the elements. The humble door goes way back to the ancient Egyptians.

Here is a quick timeline of door history:

  • Ancient Egyptian period (from approx 3000BC) has art depicting doors made out of slabs of wood and cloth hangings. We can also thank the ancient Egyptians for the invention of the door lock - the basic pin tumbler lock still in use today - which they made entirely out of wood.
egyptian people
  • King Solomon (970 - 931 BC) had temple doors made from olive wood.
  • Greek & Roman civilisations, uncovered by archeologists, used door hinges very similar to those used today. There are Roman door hinges made from bronze in the British Museum.
  • Middle Ages (500-1500 AD) saw people generally living in one big room with little need for internal doors. But for safety from raiding soldiers households secured themselves and their belongings by barring the external doorway with heavy beams of oak. During the day doors were left open to allow for ventilation for fires and cooking. Locks were not in general use during this period due to expense.
  • From the late 1500's, the Royals and wealthy gentry built palaces and homes with individual rooms. Doors for privacy were made from woven tapestries initially, and then wooden doors came into general use, hung from basic hand-forged strap hinges with bolts fixed into stonework. The poor still used textile hangings and rudimentary wooden partitions. As the centuries progressed, handles, knobs and door furniture was developed.

collection of ceramic cabinet knobs

The modern era, from the Indrustrial Revolution onwards, saw the rise of mass manufacturing. Handles and door knobs became an essential practical feature.

    Get a Handle on it

    Before door knobs and handles were invented, people used locks to keep a door shut. Only the wealthy could afford a lock and key, however. Poorer people used a latch-string, making a small hole in a door and threading a leather thong or string through, which could then be looped around a wooden bar.

    The first patent was given for a locking door knob in 1878 to an African American inventor called Osborn Dorsey. 

    Today the fundamental deisgn of handles and knobs hasn't changed much from this period. From basic pulls to more sophisticated 5-lever locks; modern chrome to traditional deisgns, a door handle today is more than simple functionality.

    Here at Suffolk Latch Company, we offer a great range of classic styles to complement any home design.

    Our popular range of Black Door Handles are available in latch, lock or bathroom options.

    Traditional Beehive Wooden Door Knobs give the finishing touch to any home, and Victorian Rim Locks add that vintage period feature.

    Keep a look out for our newest range of Pewter Door Handles - they've landed in our warehouse and will be available online very soon!

    pewter handles in their boxes by Suffolk Latch Company




    • Doorknobs are underestimated in home designing and decoration.


      Iben on

    • Thank you I really enjoyed this article about doorknobs and I’m very appreciative of it

      DoorKnob Guy on

    • Thank you doorknobs, Very cool!

      DoorKnob Guy on

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