National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Door Latch Door Latch
Rendered by Franklyn Syres (artist), 1935/1942
watercolor, graphite, and pen and ink on paper
overall: 38.8 x 22.8 cm (15 1/4 x 9 in.) Original IAD Object: 10 1/2" long; 2 3/4" wide
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 1 of 17

Iron is one of the most abundant minerals available. The strength and malleability of this metal make it suitable for a variety of useful objects. This door latch is made of wrought iron forged by a blacksmith. An important member of the early American community, the blacksmith produced farm tools and implements, household utensils, and other hardware. Iron bars were heated at the forge until they were malleable. Then, with swift strokes, the blacksmith hammered the hot iron into the desired shape. This door latch is just one example of the blacksmith's craft. Made by a Pennsylvania German, it is called a "Suffolk" latch, a style in which the upper and lower cusps, or plates, are joined by a central handle. The thumb-press extending through a hole in the upper cusp attaches to the locking mechanism on the back of the door. The cusps are formed in an arrowhead design and embellished with curved points. A desire for the elaboration of simple, everyday objects was common to the German population of Pennsylvania as an extension of their European design traditions.

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