Furniture fittings on old and antique furniture
Types and materialsFurniture fittings can be classified by function, such as opening or closing doors and drawers or protecting the wood.
Key plates and entrancesTo protect the wood around a keyhole against the key, key plates or entrances are attached. An entrance is a keyhole-shaped narrow edge that is attached to the furniture around the keyhole. Key plates and entrances can be made of metal but also of wood, leather, bone or mother-of-pearl.
Entries, photo: Firefly
ButtonsRound (turned) knobs made of wood or metal, but also porcelain or glass for opening doors and drawers.
Locks and keysThere are different furniture locks:
- Mortise lock, this is almost completely concealed in a door or drawer.
- Inlet lock, is placed on the inside of a door or drawer and partially falls into the door or drawer.
- Cover lock is placed on or against a door or drawer on the inside.
- Coffin and suitcase lock or claw clasp, when closing a sort of pin with holes or hooks in the lid grips into the matching holes at the top of the lock.
Drawer, door and chest handlesBowl handles, rings, pullers and handles are usually made of metal, it can be cast or die-cut.
Hinges and splitsAntique storage furniture has "spits" instead of hinges; two metal narrow plates, one with a hole and the other with a pin. The spits with pin are placed at the top and bottom of a door and those with a hole at the top and bottom of the cabinet. Hinges can be placed on the outside of the doors of storage furniture, these are clearly visible, or they are mounted between (actually in) the door and cupboard.
Swivel wheels and sabotsThe legs of particularly large or heavy tables, benches and armchairs sometimes have casters attached so that they are easier to move. The wheels are usually made of brass, but also of wood or porcelain. At the bottom of the legs of some storage furniture are "sabots" (French for clog) attached, these are a kind of metal sleeves (or clogs) that protect the veneer of the legs. They were applied from the beginning of the 18th century.
DecorationIn addition to the use and protective function, furniture fittings have a decorative purpose. A piece of furniture was and is sometimes more than a utensil, it can be an art form or a status symbol. From the end of the 17th century, ornaments were also used for decoration only. Fittings were made from different materials; copper, bronze, silver, iron, wood, bone, porcelain, leather and mother-of-pearl. Just like the design of the fittings, the choice of materials depended on the prevailing fashion, country and social class.
Commode of furniture maker Mathäus Funk from 1765 / Source: Mathдus Funk, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)