Mexican style cabinet pulls play a double role; they are both utilitarian and decorative. They are the indispensable hardware of furniture and cabinets. At the same time, they are what might fitly be called its jewelry.
Whether they be considered n their utilitarian or in their purely decorative capacity, a knowledge of cabinet hardware is essential to a thorough understanding of furniture. The cabinet pulls produce a very material part of the cabinet’s charm which is quite out of proportion to the amount of space they occupy.
Cabinet Hardware and Their Materials
The general term “hardware” includes hinges, locks and bolts, key-hole plates or escutcheons, knobs, handles or pulls, backplates, straps or bands, corner or angle pieces, reinforcing, gallery rails or frets, pilaster capitals and neckings, bases and metal feet, nail heads, studding, finials, ornamental plates, Empireappliques, and any other metal embellishments (except metal inlay) that designers and cabinet makers may have resorted to from time to time.
The materials of which hardware has commonly been made are iron, brass, bronze, ormolu (an alloy of copper and zinc, with sometimes an addition of tin), bone or ivory, wood, and glass.
With this latitude of possible applications and this range of materials, all susceptible of a wide diversity of manipulation in process and design, it in easy to understand how the course of evolution followed not only the trend of the great successive styles Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classic but also produced many subsidiary phases peculiar to certain localities.
Cabinet Hardware From Spain and Portugal
Spain we may include Portugal with Spain was the only country where mounts played a really conspicuous part in the Renaissance period. Iron locks, lockplates, corner or angle-pieces and bandings, hinges, handles and pulls, were beautifully engraved, chased, fretted, and punched and, in addition, were often gilded.
These elaborate iron mounts were chiefly used on the exteriors of the vargueno cabinets or kindred pieces of
furniture and to some extent also on chests. The plain exteriors of the walnut vargueno cabinets, for the most part devoid of carving or moldings, made an excellent foil for the intricate metal work, ensuring a striking contrast in color, material and design.
The contrast was often still further enhanced by underlying the large fretted mounts with velvet, usually of a rich red.
Moulded brass finials were often used to surmount the backposts of chairs and brass-headed nails of many different kinds, some of them punched, hammered, engraved or fretted, were used to fasten on the leather or velvet back and seat coverings and, at the same time, to perform an important decorative function.
Brass studdings and fretted band pieces were also occasionally used on cabinet work. The vargueno cabinet, with its many little drawers, may be considered the crowning achievements of Spanish cabinetwork.
The drawer fronts of these pieces were frequently enriched with bone inlay which was still further enhanced by the addition of color, gilding and engraving, the incised design being filled in with black or vermilion pigment. The pulls or knobs of these drawers were often of the same engraved and colored bone. Click Here to See Antique Style Pewter & Bone Crackle Round Knob