One of the best house-warming gifts I was ever given was an antique gardening trowel that had been converted to a door knocker. It was a particularly welcome gift because this old house had no functioning door bell (nasty loud buzzing things, anyway, most modern electric door bells!) and it is awfully convenient for visitors to be able to announce their arrival… to say the least.

There’s something welcoming about the traditional door knocker — a lion’s head, say, or a stirrup — but I’ve started noticing the variety of door knocker designs much more since I mounted that garden trowel knocker on my own front door.

Eagles like the Vintage American Eagle door knocker in antiqued brass  are by far the most popular among my American cousins — patriotic motifs never go out of fashion, and when it’s a vintage reproduction of a heritage piece, all the more desireable on the door.

10 Downing Street Lion Authentic Foundry Door KnockerOther birds and animal designs also are widely seen, of course.  I have a weakness for the lion’s head door knocker, personally – too many hours of watching historical dramas set in Victorian times, perhaps? It’s the same design found on the front door of Number 10 Downing Street in London, the office of the Britism PM.

Nature elements  are a traditional theme for outdoor decoration on our homes, dating way back to the earliest human habitations in just about every culture. Sometimes these figures were mounted on or near a door as a way of honoring Nature, sometimes as a talisman to pacify and protect against all those wild pagan animal spirits, and sometimes to show the nature-inspired emblem of the family within.

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And then there are the door knockers that are a different kind of totem, paying homage to our hobbies and passions. All you sports fans, you know what we’re talking about!

A friend who just bought a townhouse that backs onto the nineth hole of his favourite golf course (yes, the man is golf-obsessed! just a bit!) has a door knocker in the shape of, you guessed it, a golf club — one of those ones with the big head, I don’t know one from another — while his next door neighbour has a knocker shaped like a tiny golf bag with the clubs sticking out.

Much more interesting, to my mind, one of the local metalworkers has started making custom door knockers in all sorts of fantasy designs — flowers and gnarled old trees (maybe they’re Ents from Lord of the Rings?) and mermaid and dragons (or some kind of mythical serpent, at any rate)…

Door knockers — door art!

In many North American communities, new home architecture is more and more reflecting the traditional styles with dormer windows, steep pitched roofs, and wrap-around veranda or porch. As well, we’re doing more and more entertaining at home, “dining in” and cosying up in familiar surroundings. Partly it’s economic, partly it’s comfort.

In any case, it’s not surprising to see a return to the traditional door knocker as a decorative element on the front door — one that helps to put your own stamp of personality on your place… and a darned useful item, too. When the electricity goes out you can light the place with lovely romantic candles and carry on, after all, but what’s an electric doorbell without the power to announce your special guest?!

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