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Convention opens the door for knob enthusiasts

Edgefield hosts gathering of experts on doorknobs Aug. 23
by: Jim Clark The Antique Doorknob Collectors of America helped identify the pieces in the Troutdale Historical Society’s collection of old doorknobs.

A box of 15 doorknobs waits for its history to be unlocked, if we only had the key. The Troutdale Historical Society received the collection in 1975 from a woman named Arline Seidl, who lived with her husband, John, on Seidl Road up on 'cabbage hill.'

No one knows where these knobs came from, what they are worth or why Seidl donated them to the historical society - but they may have a chance to find out.

Enter doorknob enthusiasts and experts of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America. Founded in 1981 and boasting about 250 active members, these people know anything and everything about doorknobs and other antique hardware, and they're eager to share.

'We think of doorknobs as the gateway drug to antique hardware in general,' said Bo Sullivan, Historian at Rejuvenation, Owner of Arcalus Period Design and convention host. 'Doorknobs are an interest that we all share, but then people kind of branch out from there.'

The group will host its 31st annual convention starting Tuesday, Aug. 23, with the theme of 'Funk'tion and Folly: Featuring unusual shaped and design knobs. Sullivan expects 40 members to attend.

Items of interest include everything from doorbells, keyholes and knobs to complete door sets, plates and locks. Many items come from before the turn of the century, when hardware manufacturing was at its peak, Sullivan said, although there can be some items from the early 20th century as well.

At the convention, which lasts three days, members buy, sell and examine each other's items, tour exciting spots in the area, attend an educational presentation (this year about Victorian lighting) and a concluding banquet.

For those who are not yet members of the group, the convention also hosts a two-hour open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23. Members of the public can buy, sell and trade knobs or other antiques.

'We have the open house for a couple hours each convention so we can show off our stuff to new people, share the love of doorknobs,' Sullivan said. 'It's a small part of the convention, but it's our main way to reach new people.'

Also, for those in a situation similar to the historical society's, members will be available to assess the value of any hardware items. Sullivan said that doorknobs can range in worth from $10 to $8,000, depending on how rare they are, what they're made of and when they were made.

'There's something magical about this idea that there's this little round circle and that there are thousands of ways that people have decorated this basic idea,' Sullivan said. 'It's the idea of variety within a small object.'

After examining the historical society's knobs, Sullivan identified exactly what types they were and how much they were worth. Mystery solved.

If you go

WHAT: Antique Doorknob Collectors of America Convention

Public Hours: 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23

WHERE: 2011 Blackberry Hall at McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale

CONTACT: For more information, visit antiquedoorknobs.org