A Brief History of Door Knobs

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In the beginning

The inventor of the first doorknob remains unknown. No doors meant no doorknobs for our Neanderthal forebears. They lived in caverns or trees. Some possessed time-share condos but were reluctant to say they were ripped off.

Door knobs in history

Salesmen knocked on the first doors circa 3000 B.C. during the Dorian hegemony in the Mediterranean. In his epic study of Dorian civilization, “Das Siebentausendzweihundertvierundfünfzig,” Von Schleerpuss hypothesizes that the early Dorians may have shut and bolted their doors at night. And then destroyed them in the morning to get out. We can only presume that these wooden doors lacked door knobs. This is what’s known as planned obsolescence. Von Schleerpuss was infamous for lying, notably about his income tax. Anti-Knobian and Knobian ancient history scholars still disagree. Take a cold shower to learn about this fascinating controversy.

The door knob and I

In England, Chaucer revered the doorknob. It was the most expensive item in the house and was removed from the door at night and stored beneath a mattress. Bold seafarers who traveled the seven seas for golden doorknobs made riches in Elizabethan England. London’s Thames Museum displays Rangalang’s, Malay Door Latch. It has rough diamonds.

It cut Rangalangians’ hands when they turned the knob. 

Man’s inalienable right to door knobs

In the early 1850s, American ingenuity invented the glass doorknob. In the 1870s, the French introduced elegant ivory door knobs. Then in 1899, the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, installed the first plastic doorknob. And in 1920, the White House replaced all its rusty, decrepit door knobs with shiny new stainless steel ones made from Mesabi Iron Range ore. (The editor wouldn’t let us joke about Congress’s rusted old doorknobs.)

The digital doorknob is replacing traditional doorknobs everywhere except in Japan, where bamboo door knobs are family treasures.

If the subject of doorknob history seems a bit too obscure, just remember what philosophers say. They have still not figured out that age-old question – which came first, the door or the door knob? After all, you can’t open a door without a door knob. But on the other hand, if you have no door, then what use is a door knob? Don’t overthink it. 

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