Here is one of my favourite website categories: The Pimps Escutcheon. I love saying it and especially love sourcing as good ones are not easy finds.
Made from brass, copper, tin wood or plaster. Most escutcheons are held onto the surface by small nails cleverly called “escutcheon pins”.
Not just a verbally pleasing word (i-skutch-en) are decorative plates which are nailed or screwed over the keyhole on a door to protect the surrounding wood. They have been used on furniture since medieval times. They were used on doors, drawers or boxes to protect the surface surrounding the lock from keys scratching it.
This category can be somewhat disregarded in the decorative salvage world. Once a front door to an Edwardian house or a broken Victorian wardrobe has been stripped from its brass wear, it’s usually the handles and knockers that are sort after by the salvage merchants and collectors. The keyhole covers are usually left behind as they are more work intensive to remove, and can break when trying to remove them, preventing a full matching set being retrieved. So sourcing antique decorative escutcheon is not an easy find!
Escutcheons also take the form of trellis-pierced back plates handles, used for protecting hinged handles tapping against the wood.
They were originally created from iron, and are mainly produced in brass to this day. Their appearance evolved until they became an intricate part of commissioned furniture, and served a decorative purpose even when the keyhole was ornamental rather than functional.
Today many decorative escutcheons are cast from original antique designs into multiple brass pieces. This is still a specialised trade where metal workers use age-old techniques to handcraft these decorative escutcheons, preserving accurate and evocative historic designs.
The most desirable are European designs so I have have sourced the majority outside of the UK. In some stores well made reproductions can start at an average of £60 a piece!
They are now a desired source of decoration for any modern or vintage setting. Also escutcheons are often collected for design inspiration, you will find these including, decorative brass plates are influence in prints on wallpaper and textiles as well as in traditional tattoos with hearts, roses and skulls.
Our escutcheons, all reclaimed pieces, are a fun and unique way to add the finishing touch to your draw or door. We encourage you to think outside the box when deciding on style, shape and end use. Why not add an unpolished piece as a contemporary modern background, like a bright coloured front door!
Follow our Pinterest board ‘Decorative Salvage’ for some creative at home ideas on escutcheons and decorative plaques.
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