Door Stops are highly collected, Hubley is one of the best brands around, if you can find one that is marked it is wonderful!
by John C. & Nancy M. Smith
Those lovely, colorful doorstops that have been bringing record setting prices in recent auctions have drawn the attention of folk art collectors, as well as decorators, and of course, doorstop collector enthusiasts.
Generally cast in iron, they are avidly sought after by today’s collectors. Though mass produced, they were usually painted by hand, so each has become a unique treasure, appreciated both for its subject matter and the “folk art” quality of its paint, form and design.
Doorstops were produced in Europe as early as the late 1700s, but became more widely manufactured beginning in the early nineteenth century in Europe, particularly in Victorian England and France. Doorstops were needed to keep doors open to insure the circulation of air, and to guard against the door being blown shut. At first, doorstops were improvised….a stone from a garden, a wedge of wood, a piece of furniture. By the mid-1800’s, doorstops had become fashionable decorative items. They served a practical and utilitarian purpose; plus added charm, color, and decorative appeal to the home.
Doorstops proved to be both profitable and popular, and by the last half of the nineteenth century, English foundries were producing them in the shapes of animals, flowers and figures. Soon after the Civil War their popularity and manufacture migrated to the United States Foundries, where the frugal Yankees downsized them in size and weight.
The height of doorstop popularity in the United States was the 1920s and early 1930s. Doorstops were carried in many gift shops, and even the Sears Roebuck Catalogue offered a few, including a Boston Terrier, French Bulldog and German Shepherd.
Being relatively inexpensive, doorstops brought many decorating opportunities to the housewife of the 20s and 30s. She could purchase coordinated sets of cast iron accessories that would include doorstops as well as bookends, doorknockers, shade pulls, etc.
Doorstops were functional and decorative at the same time, providing color and flair to the household. The themes reflected the times – Art Deco, animals, circus figures, golf, nursery rhymes, wildlife and even Teddy Roosevelt. Of course, when spring arrived and doors were opened, the flower doorstops were quite popular and some designs were widely produced.