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All about escutcheons

Victorian ideas about propriety might have been the origin of the escutcheon – or they may simply have wanted to reduce the draughts in those Victorian villas. But since their C19th century heyday escutcheons have remained a popular item of door furniture and this blog will take you ‘through the keyhole’ to find out why they are so popular.

Just what is an escutcheon?

The term ultimately derives from heraldry.  Again in Victorian times a ‘blot on the escutcheon’ meant a stain on the family honour and the heraldic shape of the escutcheon explains perhaps why it also came to refer to an item used in architecture.

Briefly an escutcheon surrounds a keyhole or lock cylinder. Escutcheons help to protect a lock cylinder from being drilled out or snapped, and to protect the surrounding area from damage and wear from the end of the key when it misses the keyhole but essential they remain a decorative item. The idea is to turn a pretty ordinary keyhole into something a little nicer to look out. For owners of period homes they are also a relatively easy way to add another authentic period feature to an internal or external door.

There are many period escutcheons on the market – dating back as far as the period of William and Mary (who came to the thrown in 1688). Perhaps the most remain the items from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, including the Arts and Crafts movement as these styles are more readily found at High Street and online retailers.

There are a wide variety of finishes. Brass, chrome and aluminium are perhaps the most popular alongside black and for unpainted metals there are often finishes such as polished or satin.

Escutcheons can be used on external and internal doors. Make sure you choose a suitable item as external ones will be affected by constant use and exposure to the elements. They are also great when restring bureaus, writing desks, chest-of-draws, travel boxes and many other items.

Are you an escutcheon fan? Why not send us a pic to our Ironmongery Online Facebook page?

If you want to find out more about door furniture a great place to begin is our blog ‘All About Door Hardware’: http://www.ironmongeryonline.com/blog/door-hardware-guide/all-you-ever-needed-to-know-about-door-hardware

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