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Cast-Iron Door Hinges

Patent 6704, David W. Lyon, Machine for Making Hinges, No,. 6,704, Patented Sept. 11, 1849. (West Troy, Albany Co., NY) USPTO

The evidence clearly shows that in the Colonial period in America the common iron, house-door hinges were made always of wrought iron until 1776 to 1783, when cast-iron hinges suddenly and universally took their place....

Cast-iron door hinges, called butt hinges, comparatively small, compact, book-shaped, mortised into the edges, not set upon the faces of the door, of the common present type (See Fig. 8), because of their superior cheapness, came into universal use, no less suddenly, though a little earlier, than cut nails.

They were invented in England by Izon & Whitehurst, and patented by British patent No. 1102, October 3, 1775, and were at first imported. [Messrs. Izon and Whitehurst were located in Birmingham, and then moved to West Bromwich. Source: Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham by Thomas T. Harman and Walter Showell, page 86. Abacci Also, see W. E. Jephcott, House of Izons. London and Dudley, 1948.]

After the interruption of British trade and house building by the Revolutionary War, they everywhere superseded the old wrought hinges, about 1784, after which they appear without significant exception, on all the dated houses examined by the writer.

Hinges of this shape and name, i. e. butt hinges, of wrought-iron or brass, and never of cast-iron, had been made before 1775, generally for closets, or furniture, but none was found by the writer on room doors, in the houses examined.

Cast-iron butt hinges also show differences and improvements in construction (not studied closely) after about 1800.

But regardless of these variations and allowing for the above noted survival of wrought strap hinges on outer doors and shutters, these cast butt hinges, found upon the original doors of houses, will date the latter as post Colonial or built after c. 1776-1783.

Dating of Old Houses, Henry C. Mercer, SC.D., Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1923.

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