Sunday, January 13, 2013

Knock Wood


Did you hear there's a flu epidemic? The Boston mayor has declared a public health emergency and the subway loudspeakers announce a computer-generated, almost post-apocalyptic message with a reminder we must wash our hands with soap and water.   Small talk has changed from the weather to questions about flu shots.  Because of an egg allergy, I'm unable to have a flu shot and so far I've been lucky in avoiding getting it.  The latter statement is always followed by my superstitious grandmother's favorite saying--knock wood--which I've been saying a lot lately.


Louisberg Square, Beacon Hill

"Knock wood" got me thinking about the fact I've never gotten a knocker for my front door.
I chose not to add a doorbell to keep the front entrance looking historically accurate but I also love the individual statement a unique door knocker can make.

It was an unusually warm day yesterday so I thought it would be a perfect day to get a little
fresh, healthy air and check out the doors and knockers in this tony Boston neighborhood.  


There were quite a few red and black front doors.

Placed side by side, these characters could be playing card stand-ins for jacks, queens and kings.



I had forgotten that many New Englanders keep their wreaths up through January so it was harder than you might imagine to find door knockers that weren't covered up by wreaths.

I love the egg shaped brass  and acorn decoration on this robin's egg blue door.


Most of the brass was left to develop a patina.  I think I prefer a little polish.



Carriage house door.


Some knockers and numbers were crusty and painted.

They all look very medieval to me.


Going au natural.


The natural finish doors were lovely.  There's something very yacht-like about them.




Castle-like doors on Beacon Street.


The most ornate knocker I found.


How awesome is this oversized gas lantern over the door?

I love it.

I think my favorite combination is brass on black.


Green and brass is also a popular combination.

There were a lot of lion heads symbolizing strength and courage.  

These seem very British to me.  Maybe because No. 10 Downing Street has a lion's head on the front door.  Given our colonial connection to Britain, these make a lot of sense.


This place had two lions!



But I was surprised to find only one dolphin fish.

For an interesting post on the dolphin fish, see this post on Streets of Salem.



Acorn Street is one of Beacon Hill's most charming streets.



Acorn Street residence with a simple brass ring knocker.



Pinckney Street residence with Federal style knocker.


A federal style knocker is a timeless choice.



The physician's knocker is also very classic choice although many 
were crooked and that would drive me crazy.


These two heads were quite unusual.  They seem better suited a Victorian home than to a Federal style rowhouse but I do like them, especially the Egyptian Revival one on the right.

Joy Place, Beacon Hill

While I wouldn't recommend having a front door two feet off the sidewalk, it's great to be unique.  My favorite door knockers are the ones I saw only once or twice as I walked around.  Those places left an impression.  While it's great to pick something that sets your front door apart from others in the neighborhood, I think it's equally important to consider time and place.   Eagles, lions and Federal shields are appropriate for old houses. Whales, anchors and shells are perfect for locations close to the sea.

My personal favorites are ones that not only take time and place into consideration but pair a door knocker with a house number that provide one focal point at the front door.


Do have any favorites?

Knock wood, I hope you will all stay well.

70 comments:

  1. I love the brass door knockers.Seriously,I do.Having lived in RI for 4yrs. I love the look.But now,I live in Florida.Just wouldn't work here.I have a flamingo doorbell.What can I say? I love my goofy flamingo doorbell.

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  2. I LOVE this post :) I do adore a good knocker, but I've yet to put one on my own door. I need a fabulous door handle, first! What a great tour this was, and so artistically done -- per usual.xx

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  3. Such a variety of knockers! I love the brass on the robins egg blue....the egg shape and federal style are some of my favorites. But the lions are very classic. I hope you stay well and knock on wood that you avoid the flu bug!

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  4. I have loved this tour Steve! Door knockers are like jewelry and my personal feeling is that if you are going to have one, it had better be a nice one. The front door is a chance to make a good first impression...and there's quite a few that make a very good impression . My favorite....a shiny black door with a not so shiny brass knocker. I want to walk on Acorn Street next time in Boston...looks charming.

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  5. This is a great post. I agree that the brass on black looks great, and that the house numbers really set them off. I love the whimsical bee and fox, or more traditionally, the shield. I like the lions on the double doors!

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  6. You really live in such a beautiful place.

    My front door is inside my enclosed front porch which I always lock so I don't have a need for a knocker. I do have a very primitive one stored away that I might someday put outside the porch door. It's a wooden bird and you have to pull a rope below it to make the beak "knock".
    It would actually fit the style of my home. Primitive.
    My sister has a knocker that I gave her as a gift, it's a garden spade and fits her love of flowers. Although she would love that Bee.
    My favorite of the ones you've shown? The Fox.
    (Because there was not a hound or cat to chose.)

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  7. Favorites . . . not sure how I can choose . . . I absolutely loved this post . . . fabulous!

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  8. I bought a brass Marine knocker, on the theory that nobody messes with a Marine! However nobody knock with it either, so annoying when we miss the Fedex man. Maybe I should polish it?
    Knockers make a wonderful house gift - I admire all of these, but my heart belongs to the eagle. Or the bee. Maybe the egg.

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  9. Be well! I would like to have a place on Beacon Hill. I'll go tell Mike...
    xo

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  10. Aw yes, the flu is a big topic in Boston these days. Got my flu shot in October. My workplace arranged for a nurse to come to our main office and give out flu shots. Pretty handy!

    I love all the door knockers. They do look so elegant and rich. I really like the one with the leaves and acorns and some of the lion's heads are nice. I thought the fox one was cute but it looks like he is hanging by his tail and the tail has a nail through it so it's kind of creepy.

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  11. Oh...I loved loved loved seeing all these door knockers. I kind of like the fox one...the bee is nice too....lots of great ones...Thanks for going around and taking all these photos and sharing.

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  12. I love the variety. I had a physician's knocker (did not know that name)on a previous house but none on my current house. I would love an egg shaped knocker I find the whimsical, themed knockers don't work as well. They are lovely but I rarely hear the taps that pass a knocks on my door.

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  13. Nice post! Very interesting. My favorite is the bee.
    I can't get the flu shot anymore either. A few years ago I developed an allergic reaction to it (wheezing) which happened two years in a row. I work in health care where it is required to be vaccinated unless you have a medical or religious exemption, which I now have. Fortunately I am surrounded by people who have been vaccinated. However, a lot of people are still getting the flu. Touch wood, I won't get it! I hope you don't either.
    Claudia

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  14. Thanks so much for the link! I did a doorknockers post too but I don't think I captured as many as you: there's an overwhelming maritime here in Salem as you can imagine. I, personally, love the fox.

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  15. Such a lovely stroll you took us all on through the streets of Beacon Hill. For quite some time, I have been thinking that we need a door refresher. When I take my wee grand daughter out in her "Bob" through the streets of Federal Hill in Baltimore, I have photographed doors which inspire me. I shall add your visuals to mine and make this a 2013 mission - find the new color and door knocker.
    As always, thank you, Steve, for yet another delightful / thought provoking post.
    Linda

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  16. What a fabulous post, Steve! I love that little corner of Boston as well. I haven't been down Charles Street in a while, is that great 'hardware' store still there? I bought a door-knocker there for my first house. (It was a fox head - I was having delusions of Myopia Hunt Club.) If I ever did one again I would try to find an acorn - I think that is my favorite that you've shown here. Or even just the decorative acorns.
    Stay well!!
    Phyllis

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    1. Phyllis,
      Yes, Period Hardware is still there. I went in there and took a few photos to put that source at the end of the post but the post was getting out of control. It's a very nice shop.
      S.

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  17. Yes, the flu epidemic is crazy. I am an hour south of Boston, and we have had our share as well. In fact, after having surgery last Wednesday and having to sit in recovery for 6 hours, the explanation was there just weren't any beds. Literally. I had to stay on the little recovery room cottish thing all day. I have warned my own kiddos to wash, wash, wash....and not to be afraid to tattle on those not covering ;)

    You have found some amazing doors. I have decided that city doors are far more stylish than suburbian doors. Maybe because there are no screen doors/storm doors on top! We still have our wreaths up....I drag it out as long as I can!

    I love a horseshoe crab doorknocker I saw at my local hardware store....or perhaps a seahorse.....

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  18. Absolutely gorgeous photo essay on door knockers! Awhile back,I featured the knockers of Old Alexandria in Virginia. Please stop by for a peek.

    best, '
    teaorwine

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  19. What an incredible selection! My favorite would have to be the rather ferocious lion on the red door. Unfortunately, because I have french doors (or is it French doors, I'm never sure) a knocker isn't appropriate.

    Incidentally, if your readers' bouts with flu extends beyond three weeks, they might well have adult whooping cough, which will require antibiotics.

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  20. great piece, steve. our 1940s cape cod came with an eagle knocker almost identical to the first one you featured. we still have it, even though it is engraved with the original owner's name. and yes, black is the best! donna

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  21. Fabulous!!! I love your collages. My favorite knocker is the cluster of acorns and white oak leaves. Okay, I want a little townhouse on Acorn Street.....so charming! Are they pricey? I have a feeling I won't be able to afford one :(

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  22. Love your vast collection! Great way to bring personality and charm to your home-

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  23. Am I the only one who sees chicken feet on the "castle doors"?

    I love the egg-shaped ones - had not seen them before - and the lone dolphin. Interesting post - no surprise there.

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    1. No, Webb, there are definitely chicken feet on the castle doors. That's a great observation!

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  24. I LOVE the one with the (girl's)hand with the star. I've never seen one quite like that before, and, like you, I prefer the more unique ones. Cool collection!

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  25. Thanks, Steve. I learned I have a the physician's door knocker (I had no idea). My favorites are the bee, acorns and oak leaves, and very simple ovals.

    You should give walking tours - I'd love it!

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  26. So many to choose from. The egg-shaped brass knocker, knob and acorn on the blue door is my fave. I live in a 1920s bungalow neighborhood in Atlanta. I haven't noticed many door knockers. I will be certain to take notice when I walk my dog tomorrow.

    Great post and thanks for reminding me to get my flu shot!

    Stay well.

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  27. Now you have ME thinking about the fact that our front door would benefit from a knocker!!! I thought about it when we first moved in years ago, but that got lost in the wind. Now I'm thinking that it could add a ton of character. I'm going on a quest! I like the numbers on the door like that, too. We only have numbers above the garage WAY over on the other side of the house. Maybe numbers on the door would look cool, too. Hmmmm...you just made me spend a ton of money!!! :-) Happy New Year!

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  28. I am "door knockerless". It seems we Californian's are not as sophisticated in the art of door knockery! Now I realize how bare my front door is. Fascinating post.

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  29. Gaaa...now I'll be looking at everyone's knockers!! Brass has class (even if I don't!!) :) franki

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  30. If someone is "knockerless" they could just frame one of your photo collages - love them!

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  31. Steve,
    Thank you so much for the tour. I love your neighborhood tour posts, makes me feel like I'm still living there. My front door is knocker-less since I have a storm door. That probably shouldn't make a difference. I'll have to consider it. Thanks again,
    Donna

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  32. Great knockers! (Couldn't resist) But they truly are. There are so many beautiful and interesting ones I couldn't decide in a million years. Guess that's why I don't have one. Have never gotten the flu shot either, it seems we hear epidemic every year nowadays. Stay healthy!

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  33. Your walks are always delightful. Loved this post! I also love the snow on your header... your clevernesss made me smile. :)

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  34. These are great knockers! We've been looking for one for our door now made harder to choose seeing this post because I love so many. I think if it came down to it I would pick the dolphin.

    Got my flu shot thankfully and my pneumonia shot since that seems to be going around too. I hope you stay healthy and free of any germs!

    XXX
    Debra~

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  35. I live just outside Boston and go into town all the time. I've never gone looking at the door knockers, the thought never occurred and now you have opened my eyes. YOU have opened my eyes to many features of areas of my own community that I now look at with a much more appreciative light. You are doing a wonderful job here. Thank you especially for this post. I loved it and will show this one to my sons.

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    1. That's a great compliment. Thank you so much!

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  36. I could never tire of looking at pretty old doors & hardware! I agree, the black and brass is my favorite combo. My freshly painted green door is already getting on my nerves and will most likely be black on the next warm day. Our lion head knocker came from an ebay seller who lived in England :)

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  37. I feel you and I would get along marvlously! "I chose not to add a doorbell to keep the front entrance looking historically accurate..." I would have done the very same! Being historically accurate is something I strive for im my job as a Set Dresser.

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  38. What a great post, so much eye candy. I've never had a flu shot just wash my hands and avoid crowds, everyone I know gets them but still gets sick so go figure!

    BTW can you understand your mayor when he speaks? Rather a unique fella huh?

    Kathy

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    1. I've gotten used to the accent but he certainly mumbles. And I understand there's a list of words he can't pronounce so those are left out of any speeches written for him. But that's just rumor.

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  39. What fun! You must have had a blast walking around taking all the photos. Funny, I bought a horse door knocker on Sunday which is something I've never bought before. Not sure it would fit a Beacon Hill home but would be right for right person out in the 'burbs.

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  40. What a wonderful round up. I don't have a favorite. Many are charming in different ways. I think I would choose one that gave a satisfying knock as a start. Is there anything typical for a greek revival (in your area) or is that too broad a category (i.e anything historically common at the time the house was built). I wonder if the door knockers became so diverse only in recent times or also way back when?

    I think now I like the ones with big heavy rings.

    Lovely photos! Sorry to be late to the party. Lots of crap in my life right now. :)

    Terri xo

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  41. those are some knockers.

    i want to live in your neighborhood.

    and i'm so pissed that you are not in my reader anymore.

    that sucks.

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  42. For years, we scoured the flea market in Athens for brass hand knockers and now have a collection, but I've never found the carpenter who will adapt one for our mid-Cambridge 1905 door, and I'm not giving up my door! I don't know their history, but it's definitely a Mediterranean thing. And it's always a woman's hand. It was a very pleasant shock to find one in your collage! Makes me wonder where that owner's been....Brilliant visualization, as always. Thank you!

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    1. Wonderful! I'd love to see your collection. The hand knockers seem to have been popular in the Victorian era but that could have easily been a Revival of some kind.

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  43. The large castle like door is fab! I think my Brother who loves foxes would like that one further down too.

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  44. Great post! Now I want to collect knockers to hang on my living room wall.

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    1. I love that idea! Mounted on tiny plaques like antlers.

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    2. I already have a lion's head knocker hanging on my wall, but since it does not have the strike plate I hung the knocker on a nail and called it a day...yeah, I'm lazy.

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  45. I love the lions but so many of them look so scared and sad...Poor things! I don't think it matters what we do around here, with 3 kids in 2 different schools we are going to catch the flu and everything else. I just tell myself I am building up my immune system for later. Good luck staying well!

    Also, love all the brass and black...

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  46. The most thorough knocker post on the planet! I LOVE IT. Im especially partial to the lions heads, and I love the 'au naturale' doors. I have brass stirrups on my front doors. Thanks for the comment today on our blog. I have seen that kitchen and have put that link on my desktop along with a few others as ammunition when I get to the kitchen project! youre too funny-thanks for thinking of us :)
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  47. Oh no, take those vitamins! I think the flu is getting around pretty heavily here too. OMGOSH I couldn't get enough of this post! I would love to walk around those charming little streets of Boston! Every knocker you showed was beautiful, so it's hard to pick a fav. I totally agree with you though; Your front door should be both a unique statement of you and reflect the area/be an ode to history. I am loving the brass and black too!

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  48. Wow - I've never seen so many door knockers and so many I love. The Lion's heads are gorgeous and I love the double black front doors...gorgeous!!

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  49. Door knockers are such a wonderful way to add interest and personality - you post had so many great ones. Hope the flu has stayed at bay for you.

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  50. Miss my bell on my previous house. On the outside, it looked like a turn key except mounted in the middle lower half of the door. On the inside, it was a round hollow metal bell that would be striked when the outside key was turned. Had some embellishments on the bell side, including the date, but don't remember the details anymore. 8 - <

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  51. I have always hankered after a female hand knocker, they are very popular if France. From your posting I most like the bee on the black door, although I don't know if it would feel good in the hand when being used.

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  52. oh wow - that egyptian head was certainly unique!!

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  53. Loved the door knocker tour through Beacon Hill! Lots of charm and personality!! The Oak leaf with acorn was one of my favorites!

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  54. My favorite door jewelry just happens to be the pineapple! I don't recall seeing any in your post...

    Flu ... My students are dropping like flies... Pray for me! LOL

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  55. The streets and houses are beautiful in Boston. I love the leaves and acorn knocker....very charming! We haven't been hit yet here in California with the flu.....Don't forget to wash your hands

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  56. Steve, they are all so cool in their own way-like art, it's hard to choose a fave. Our door has a knocker with a porthole-it's covered on back, so you can open in from the inside and see who's there-sort of the "Joe sent me" and "secret password?" type. It's brass with patina...just like our doorknob with the sixteen point star surround. I am trying to figure out a way to remove that and take it with us when we sell! I know it's original to the house, but I love it-the "star" being part of our last name...

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  57. I kind of love the simple oval myself.
    Camille

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  58. Steve,

    Really great post. I want to fight with you about polishing brass, it's too uptight, patina is better. My fav is the bee on the black door - way cool. Many of them do look Italian- that Medieval thing I guess.

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  59. Neat post. Thanks for the walking trip through historic Boston and the commentary on architectural styles--you would make a great tour guide! Most people are oblivious to such detail as you pointed out here. My favorite is the lady's head knocker on the green door, although I really like the whimsy of the bee.

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  60. I didn't read all of the comments...but in reference to knockers...wish I had a nice set :)
    All kidding aside....that was a ton of work getting pictures of all of those, and I am guessing it was cold cause it's cold in Boston until May right :)
    Maybe I will find a vintage knocker at Scott's....now I will be on the hunt.

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  61. I want the bee! I love black doors. You live in such a great place, all those lovely British houses. ;)

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