Renovating? Don't Throw Out Those Old Doorknobs—They Could Be Worth $1000s
Maybe you're tearing down walls to create a larger living space. Or you have a few doors that you've previously removed lying around in your basement or garage. Perhaps you love the thrill of scoring finds at flea markets and yard sales. If any of those scenarios sounds familiar, you'll want to take a closer look at doorknobs because they could score you a nice chunk of change.
What is a vintage doorknob?
Although they can be a bit fiddly, if you take a closer look at vintage doorknobs, you’ll find they’re quite lovely. The Antique Doorknob Collectors of America (ADCA) sure thinks so, which is why they put a premium on vintage doorknobs from before 1950. Collectors love them because they serve as microcosms of long-ago design styles and embody the beauty of vintage craftsmanship. Doorknobs from the late 19th and early 20th century are especially popular among collectors — which could translate into a nice payday for you.
What makes a vintage doorknob valuable?
The ADCA has an extensive list of collectible categories of doorknobs, along with information about their manufacturers. These collectible categories include (but are not limited to):
Representative. Doorknobs featuring designs of animals, people, or objects.
Odd-Shaped. Doorknobs that aren’t round or oval, but rather hexagonal, curvaceous, or rectangular.
Composite. Knobs made from wood pulp and other materials.
You may be surprised by how many styles of doorknobs exist. Detailed patterns abound, from spirals and swirls to eightfold symmetry (a pattern repeated eight times).
There are a variety of antique doorknob designers that are considered highly collectible. Here are a few the ADCA highlights:
P. & F. Corbin Company. Founded in 1849.
Russell & Erwin Manufacturing Company. Founded in 1849.
Sargent & Company. Founded in 1854.
Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company. Founded in 1868.
Many more names of valuable antique doorknob manufacturers can be found in this alphabetical directory of hardware catalogs and publications and this list.
How much can my vintage doorknob sell for?
Once you’ve learned about some of the styles and makers to look out for and inspected all your doors for any antique doorknob that may be valuable, you'll want to contact the ADCA directly to score a list of businesses that buy and sell them. The organization also has regular conventions where collectors gather to buy and sell vintage and antique doorknobs. ADCA president Paul Woodfin says that a 19th century doorknob can sell for anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars. If you have a high-quality antique bronze doorknob in good condition, you may be in luck — Woodfin claims these can net you a payday of over $1,000. The more beautiful the doorknob, the more it might be worth. A vintage doorknob with an ornate design like an animal head may sell for over $2,000. One Victorian doorknob featuring a charming design of a dog sold for $4,000, and its popularity has led to many reproductions.
Antique doorknobs may seem like a niche thing to collect, but they are actually fascinating objects that charmingly reflect the times in which they were produced. If you’re in the midst of a home redo, you might want to consider giving your doorknobs a closer look. Your home just might be filled with small treasures more valuable than you ever anticipated.