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.