|H-hinge, Philip Walker House, East Providence,
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
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.