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History of Door Knobs

Most of us don’t pay attention to door handles or knobs. After all, you only pull or push on them for a few seconds when you enter or exit a building. Most of us are too busy thinking about where we are going and what we are going to do once we get there to even register a door pull — except when it’s unique.

First Impressions International makes custom door handles, as well as cabinet hardware, appliance hardware, bath knobs and pulls, and commercial door pulls. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping design and manufacture unique creations for your commercial business with the goal of making the best first impression possible. But did you ever wonder how door knobs were first invented? Below, we’ll examine the history of door knobs. Contact us today to get started!


In the beginning thousands of years ago, most people lived in one big room. However, as civilizations grew and people wanted privacy to the point they were willing to build more than one room, two rooms were built. But how to separate them? Animal pelts and cloth were technically the first doors, both for entering a home and for creating rooms. In this instance, door knobs obviously weren’t needed when all you did was push the animal hide or cloth to the side. Eventually, doors were made from wood, but again, there were no handles. These doors were merely pushed in or out to open and close.

For thousands of years, no one thought of a door knob. Then, locks began to be in style. As civilization grew, so did crime, so people needed a way to keep their valuables safe while they were away. The ancient Egyptians had some form of a door lock. Surprisingly, locks became commonplace on doors but no handles to open them. Locks were made from metal with a key, but the poor used a string or a strap of leather that would be inserted through a hole in the door that was then used to lift and lower a bar.

In the sixteenth century, door knobs appeared but only in palaces and the homes of nobles. However, these were for looks only; they did not have any control over the door. You can see examples of these in the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris.

American Ingenuity

Americans were the ones to truly give door knobs a use. After the American Revolution, the US began to manufacture their own door knobs. Doors were becoming thicker, so door knobs were an easy way to open doors rather than having to push them open. From 1830 to 1873, the US patent office was inundated with door knob patents. Over 100 were submitted during that time frame.

The sky was the limit for materials that door knobs could be made from. The earliest door knobs were made from glass, china, or ceramic. Clay and metal were popular materials of choice as well. Some door knobs operated with a twist; some didn’t. Wood door knobs were easy to come by as well. However, metal became the optimal choice due to the fact there was less care involved, they were stronger, and they lasted longer.

In the era of opulence (otherwise known as the Victorian era), everything you could think of was upgraded, including door knobs. Decorative door hardware, knobs, and handles were in vogue. Soon, the door knob was ubiquitous, operating the same way they do today with the same purpose — to open and close doors, as well as to secure them.


First impressions International continues the long tradition of manufacturing custom door knobs of your choice. We also have a wide variety of door knobs available online for you to choose from, both in classical style and modern as well. We offer different door knob materials in all of our styles, from bronze and brass to chrome and nickel. All are easy to install and look beautiful on any door in your home or business.

If you want to make the best first impression, then shop our door knobs and handles online today. Our transitional door knobs are sure to delight and make a great impression. Shop online today!