The Baldwin hinge

Over the years this old house has been thoroughly renovated, several times.  There aren’t too many discoveries left to find.  We gutted out the attic and 2nd floor.  We have stripped the plaster and lathe off the walls.  This house is now safe, clean and relatively modern.  Earlier this week, however, this house gave up one more secret from its past.

At the time of the discovery, we had taken down the doors to the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms.  They were being painted.   Warren also removed the door hardware to clean it up a bit.  The old hinges were covered in 156 years of  paint and dirt.  With a little elbow grease, a bright grey surface peaked through revealing shiny cast iron hinges. Amazingly they looked brand new.   But these did not look like the door hinges we use today.  For one thing, there was no central removable pin.  Both ends are enclosed, yet the object appeared to be in one piece with movable rotating parts. The hinge was an intriguing puzzle.  The only clue were the two words “Baldwin” and “Patented” molded into the iron. 

hummm further investigation was required

What did we do before computers? 

 Apparently these hinges were the original cast hinges imported from Baldwin Foundry, made in Stourport UK in the mid 19thcentury.

Here is an excerpt describing how they were made: The Baldwin Foundry made more hinges, door hinges, at the foundry than all the rest of the firms in the world put together. From the station they used to bring pig iron bars, pick them up and drop them on a piece on the floor – there was a knack in ‘dropping them on’ – it would break the bars into pieces which was then put into the cupola and melted. If you got a Baldwinhinge, they never wear out, nobody could ever understand how the pin got in the middle. They made half the hinge, then they put the pin down inside and they covered the pin, with the finest camel hair brushes you could get , with whale oil, dipped them in sand so it stopped the iron; On the back of the hinge, so that it wouldn’t stick, they used to use pitch, just dab it on. Then they put that half into a box and poured the box and made the other half – so the pin was in the middle. So really the whole thing was made by hand.

The expression “They don’t make them like they use to” applies to the Balwin hinge.

About westlakemusings

In 2013 my husband and I retired. We bought an old pre-confederation house out in the country. This blog is about our new world in the country as we explore all of life's possibilities.
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15 Responses to The Baldwin hinge

  1. Rev. Marilyn says:

    Fascinating! It’s so cool you have the time and energy to check these things out. Such treasures!

  2. Carlton Hopkins says:

    I too have recently discovered that I am in possession of the same hinges. I was in a salvage store 50 or so miles from where I live. Down in the attic at the far corner of this store I found three identical doors complete with the hinges and door pulls. I bought all three doors for $50! As with your journey, I was unaware of the manufacturer of the hinge until after I cleaned the layers of paint from them. One of the doors now serve as our pantry door whilst the remaining two are waiting for their new “homes”. The Baldwin “butt” hinges are functioning flawlessly. Cheers, Carlton

  3. Duncan J Luff says:

    I found the same hinges on my doors, the house was built in 1906 but most of the house was recycled from an older house that was on the same sight after I looked at old maps of the area. I cleaned the Baldwin hinges and put them back, they belong to the house and will be doing the same job for a very long time over the years

  4. Duncan J Luff says:

    Well after cleaning more hindges from my house I found other cast hindges, another make of the same cast hindge with the named Cannon. after look on the net there was an iron foundery in the west midlands. I will look into it.

  5. Ed Kacz says:

    The well known Baldwin hardware company of today in the US is not related to the Baldwin foundry mentioned in this site, The modern Baldwin company was founded in the US after WWII. Just coincidental names and products.

  6. Roy Cornell Gutfinski says:

    I will tell you a better one. The property I live on here in Maine was once a farm. The place burned, farmhouse, barns, and all, in the 1930’s. My research shows the original farmhouse was built in the 1830’s. Exploring around the old cellar hole, I found 4 of the old Baldwin Patent hinges with the pins built into the hinges. They were covered with surface rust and had the original hand made screws still in the holes indicating that they must have been burned in the fire. A little WD-40 and all 4 hinges loosened up and are in such condition that they could actually be used again. Amazing!

  7. Philip Allen says:

    Umm.. why did you strip the plaster and lathes ?

  8. Jill says:

    I am just renovating an old box, but my Baldwin hinges seem much older that those photographed above. Mine are quite thick, have three spaces for the pin, not five like the photo above, and have “Baldwin” “Patent” in the upper side, and “200” on the underside. We knew they were old, so looked them up. The box has been recovered twice, as they never took the old covering off, and has very coarse animal hair for the padding. I would guess 1920s or 1930s. I see what you mean about the pin – it is sealed on each end – how did they get it in there?
    Thanks for the thread. I learned something today.

  9. S Harrington says:

    My wife says I’m a bit sad but we live in the uk on the outskirts of London in the uk,today doing some renovations I decided to replace the hinges for brass on the internal doors upstairs.after visiting the local stores I discovered that these hinges were an odd size and decided to reuse the original ones,cleaned them up they are of cast iron construction and contain the imbossed name Baldwin and on the other side 200.We can accurately date these as circa 1870 as these cottages have a well documented history locally.they will be refitted to the original doors and rehung there’s a lesson to be learnt there never chuck anything away.

  10. NORMAN SMALL says:

    I have been renovating my inter connecting doors and found that i have the Baldwin 564 3×3 hinge. I live in Burnt Oak in London suburbs. These are being renovated and rehung on these doors. Great piece of History. and Guess what – They will never see a lick of paint on them again whilst i am alive anyway.

  11. amanda Thomas says:

    Hi what year did Baldwin hinges stopped manufacturing hinges thank you

  12. Philip says:

    No idea. Mine were manufactured in the mid 1890s.

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