Ruth Richmond for Weiser acrylic doorknobs — what we’re lusting after now

JJS1452

Steinmetz, Joseph Janney, 1905-1985. Portrait of Sarasota architect Ruth Richmond. 19–. Black & white photoprint, 10 x 8 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. , accessed 7 December 2015.

The journey of discovery continues: In the apartment he decorated for a client, Ben Sander used sparkly vintage Weiser acrylic doorknobs throughout. With just a wee bit of searching, I found they were designed by Ruth Richmond — a interior designer and general contractor whose company Richmond Homes built more than 12,000 homes in Sarasota and environs from the 1950s through the 1970s.

retro mod decor

Above: Ruth Richmond-designed doorknobs, featured often in the homes she designed and decorated and apparently marketed by Weiser.

ruth-richmond-weiserruth-richmond-weiser-doorknob1970s-doorknobweiser-gold-doorknobacrylic-doorknobAnother story about an impressive midcentury designing woman — and about a product that we must. start. hoarding. collecting. now.

Thanks to Ben Sander of Ben Sander Interior Design for all the great photos, including the extras I asked for! And — he made a quick video (above) showing how the doorknob locks. He adds:

The inside knob rotates and recesses to lock the outer knob. You’ll notice that the outer knob has a small hole drilled in the center of it. That’s how you unlock it in an emergency.

When we were planning the doorknob switch, I considered these knobs from Rejuvenation.  They have the same feel, just without the golden nugget.

Where to find vintage Ruth Richmond for Weiser door knobs — both are ebay affiliate links:

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Comments

  1. lynda says

    We found 4 of these knobs in daughter and son-in-law’s house in Maryland. How they got there, I don’t know. House was built in 40’s, added on to in the 50’s, and remodeled in the 70’s. At first we were going to replace them, and I decided they were really interesting, even though they were tarnished and covered with years of paint. I soaked them in baking soda and dawn liquid and the paint peeled off. A little brass cleaner perked up the brass parts. There are also glass door knobs in the house that needed cleaning too. Now, we all love the eclectic look of the door knobs in the house. I had looked up the history and the price of the knobs on Ebay, but still was not tempted to replace them. They are part of the history of the house. Doors are those old solid wood paneled doors that we restored too. I think I sent you info about these knobs a few years back.

  2. Dan says

    Proof again that there was an earlier generation unafraid of a touch of glitz and glamour in the home.

    Another tip for cleaning paint off old metal hardware – simply soak in household vinegar overnight.

  3. Ali says

    Those knobs are way cool, and in the right house they would be so sweet! I love the story about Ruth Richmond as well.

    Until I started reading Retro Renovation, I didn’t think that I liked 70s design but series like this one are starting to change my mind.

      • Jen says

        Amen! To both comments. Though I am not sure that I can live with the amount of pattern that was used in any of these mid-century homes. I appreciate how well it comes together and the artistry that went into the design. But I fear that in my own home it would feel too “busy” and there would be no place to rest my eyes.

  4. says

    I think I have found the doorknob of my dreams!!!! (How often do I get to say that?!) This would look great on any 60s-70s era home!!! I can’t wait to get my hands on one!!

  5. says

    My pal Patti’s house in Venice Florida has these doorknobs and I love them! I recognized immediately, and she confirmed their house there was designed by Ruth!
    (Their house is for sale, so if you want to see some interior photos of one of Ruth’s houses, you can look for 724 Golf Drive Venice FL. While Patti isn’t really about the MCM like we are, she’s done an incredibly cheery and creative job there! )

    • Ree says

      Mod Betty, I just checked out the pictures of your friend’s house in Venice. Very cute, and the kitchen cabinets are wonderful. I could not see the doorknobs in the pictures, but the house and the yard are wonderful.

  6. oh Holland says

    Glitter! We yearn for old school glitter, foil, nuggets and threads in our laminate countertops, flooring, boucle upholstery and even on some ceilings … and now, in doorknobs.

    Continually surprised there are no modern copies, but in a way I’m glad, ’cause if I ever score some original bling for my house, it’ll be all the sweeter.

      • tammyCA says

        Swoon! Yes, please! Absolutely…glitter, sparkle = joy! I’ve never seen these beauties before. I do have a vintage hamper with lucite handles & sparkles embedded..but I need more..more sparklies in my life. Oh, and I recently bought at an estate sale a couple decks of cards in plastic cases with embedded glitter..little vintage treasures like this do lift one’s spirit.

  7. ineffablespace says

    Again, this is one of those situations where something high-style was available at what was probably a reasonable price–Weiser Lock is pretty basic stuff, at least now.

    There are companies that make the art-glass equivalent of these knobs–at price points of $280 to $600 a set, at one company, so it’s not as accessible.

    West Elm and IKEA have made some fairly high-style things very accessible, but that is a particular aesthetic that, for the most part, looks simple, and looks inexpensive. The acrylic knob is a more “sophisticated” thing.

    • pam kueber says

      Ben: Can you tell us about the quality? I’m guessing: Great hand-feel. Golly, ineffable, for the prices these are listed on ebay, they are a steal compared to the new ones you referenced. Assuming you can get them into your doors…

      • ineffablespace says

        The other issue is number of knob sets needed. A typical house has a lot more doors than you would think once you start adding them up, and if you want everything to match, you have a pretty impossible task.

        On the other hand, I don’t know that most people are going to spend $7000 for a dozen knob sets made of art glass.

        The other thing is that the acrylic and glitter is a little more modest along the lines of mid-century notions but the art glass is clearly a piece of jewelry that could outstrip the other period details like simple slab doors and sanitary moldings.

      • says

        The knobs are very solid. You can tell how well they’re put together from the video. The doors in the apartment had to be re drilled to accept the knobs and installation is a bit tricky, because you can’t easily get a screwdriver around the knob to screw them in.

        One of the reasons we opted for these was price. There was a whole set on eBay that included enough knobs for the whole apartment with a few to spare and as you noted, the price was far below the cost of the new ones.

        Several of the knobs had a few minor issues – some scuffing, and on the locking sets, the hole is apparently a weak spot and is inclined to chip. Luckily we had enough knobs to set aside the chipped ones.

    • Sam R says

      Back in the day, Weiser made good quality door hardware. My house was built in 1954, and all of the door hardware is Weiser with similar push-and-turn-to-lock mechanisms, but a different style of knob. I’ve been slowly replacing the 61 year old originals (and a few that went missing with NOS as I’ve found them, but the originals still work and I’m keeping a box of them around as parts.

      This particular design has been bringing high prices for decent used examples for some time – they pop up in my saved eBay search that looks for replacement knobs for my doors.

  8. says

    This is hilarious! These are all over my house (built in 1975). When we bought the house and moved in (1998), I hated them, but my husband refused to replace them. The acrylic knobs still grace our doors, and I still hate them. Would LOVE to sell them.

  9. Allison says

    Actually, there are several different kinds of glittery Ruth Richmond knobs. I’ve been buying them for our little ’40s beach cottage and the ones I like the best are an amber acrylic with swirled/puffy white glitter stuff, rather than the clear acrylic with gold crinkles. On ebay, the clear ones with gold seem appear most often .

    but all are fabulous (so which one of you was it who outbid me on that last set…?)

  10. Allison says

    … and a tip for hunting them on ebay. Search “acrylic knobs” as well as “Ruth Richmond”.
    Plenty of RR hit ebay without being identified as such; usually just listed as acrylic or lucite Weiser knobs.

  11. Carol says

    I almost fell off my chair. My DH likes to gold mine in Dahlonega GA . I will be renovating his office at home this winter and I will definitely use these in the design. Not sure how well it will go with a vintage tanker desk, but he will LOVE them. The desk is mint condition gray so I see some silver and gold leaf in this room. Sounds awful but it’s already in my head!

  12. Michelle says

    My home in Sarasota, purchased in 1986 from original owners has these exact doorknobs on all doors and a smaller version on the kitchen cabinets. I have always loved them and even the appraiser commented on them during my last refinance – he counted them as an upgraded feature. Ha!

    • pam kueber says

      Wowowowo: Kitchen cabinet pulls! I saw some online while I was searching, I’d LOVE to see them in person. I’ll email you…

  13. Amy says

    Once again, I learned something new! Something to love. The black knobs with gold flake…gorgeous, and my personal favorite of what I saw on the link to ebay.
    $99 for two sets — that’s not that bad, is it?
    I’ll bet Mrs. Pinkerton, above, will be deluged with requests for her home’s Ruth Richmond knobs!

    • Mrs Pinkerton says

      No offers yet, Amy! 🙂 But then, I’d be shipping from Canada. I don’t know how much of an issue that would be. (I also need to convince my husband to sell them.)

  14. says

    We had doorknobs similar to these on the inside of our bedroom doors, but clear with bubbles inside. My sister and I loved them! My mom let me take them and replace them with doorknobs that matched the rest of the house when she sold her house.

  15. CAT says

    That’s too cool. My husband needed a walking stick after his stroke, and he modified a plain ol black one and used this exact doorknob on the top! It’s his “wizard stick”. He gets tons of compliments on it.

  16. Jed says

    You’ve made my day. I purchased a set of the drawer pulls years ago from an architectural salvage place to bring some life to my 1959 kitchen cabinets. Since I put them on 7 years ago, I have gotten so many comments about them, both positive and negative. I am two short and have been thinking of having a glass blower replicate them, but thanks to your informative article, I can see that they are available.

    Thanks, Retro Renovation, for covering the story and thanks, Ruth Richmond, for designing these awesome knobs.

  17. Jim says

    I accidently came across these doorknobs when performing a search for mid-century doorknobs, to replace a few in a 1960’s condo, that didn’t match. I ended up bidding and winning 10 sets of the gold nugget flake knobs and ended up replacing every doorknob in the place. I paid $125.00 on eBay, and after a little cleaning, they looked perfect in this mid-century condo. They installed easy and the tenant loves them too. I recently saw 36 sets of drawer pull knobs in the same gold flake design, but was outbid at the last second. I think I am becoming hooked on Ruth Weiser Richmond, and the various knobs she made . Can’t wait to see some of the houses she designed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *