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Wrought-Iron Door Hinges

H-hinge, Philip Walker House, East Providence, RI

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.

The old wrought hinges appear in two common varieties in the houses examined; namely, the so-called H or HL hinge, cut out of heavy sheet iron and fastened against the face of the door with screws or clenched wrought nails, or the ˛strap" or ˛hook and eye's hinge; namely, a long strap, bolted, riveted or nailed with clenched nails, against the door and turning on a hook or gudgeon which latter was either spiked into the lintel, or, where the lintel was too thin for spiking, set upon a plate, variously shaped, and sometimes strengthened with a projection or prop called a ˛rattail."

While the H and HL hinges (many of which were probably factory-made and imported from England) and nearly all of the strap-hinges, were found plain, a few of the latter, by no means typical and generally over-exhibited in museums, show floriated decorations.

It further appears that hand-made, wrought-strap hinges (still common in 1923 on barn doors in eastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere), continued to be used on outer house doors and window shutters, long after 1783, and hence, when so found, should be disregarded as proof of dates. But with these exceptions, the evidence abundantly shows, that where wrought hinges (generally HL, more rarely strap) are found on original inner house doors, they date the house as Colonial, or built before the Revolution.

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


HL-hinge, Philip Walker House, East Providence, RI Strap hinge, Philip Walker House, East Providence, RI

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