Lion Head Door Knockers

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Lion head door knockers are dignified, yes, and eminently respectable. (Understand that I am painting a picture here.) They seem to belong on the front door of an attorney's office in a smaller town, in a country courthouse. The fact is, they are indeed classic and timeless. Their history goes back a thousand years. They are usually rather heavy, which means loud. In a door knocker, this is a good thing.

Most tend to be brass. Bronze is sometimes seen, as is iron. They became popular after the American Revolution, as animosity toward England began to fade, in the early 19th century. Brass foundries, not encouraged by the Crown before independence, took hold. Lion head door knockers became a sign of prosperity and social status.

A Short History of Lion Head Door Knockers

One remarkable early door knocker, at the Cizre Great Mosque in Turkey, features both dragon and lion. It is bronze and dates to either the late 12th or early 13th century. The lion head is the hinge, the dragon the base. Another is on the Inguanez Palace on the island of Malta, a watchtower during the Crusades, and dates to the mid-16th century.

By the 17th century lion head door knockers were common in England. The lion, after all, had been identified with English royalty since the Plantagenet dynasty of the 12th and 13th centuries. It became an element in the royal crest and gradually became associated with the government in general. Little surprise that door knockers with lion heads came to represent, especially in the early American republic, formality and dignity.


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