Window latch from the 1840 Justin Morrill Smith Historic house in Vermont.( C) Daniel FriedmanWindow & Window Hardware Age
Window construction details & hardware as indicators of building age

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Window & window parts or hardware age:

This article describes and illustrates antique & modern window parts & hardware: hinges, sashes, window latches, hardware, all components or window construction details that can help determine a building's age. Our page top photograph of a window latch was taken by the author (DF) at the 1840's historic Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont.

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Window & Window Hardware or Parts Age & History

Antique wood framed window, Rugat, Spain © Daniel Friedman

In this article series we discuss the selection and installation of windows and doors, following best construction and design practices for building lighting and ventilation, with attention to the impact on building heating and cooling costs, indoor air quality, and comfort of occupants.

We review the proper installation details for windows and doors, and we compare the durability of different window and door materials and types.

For centuries, even before glass was used for glazing, windows were framed with wood set into building walls.

Our photo (left) shows an antique wood-framed window in Rugat, Spain (DF).

[Click to enlarge any image]

Earliest wood framed windows were left open (such as this example from Xotolar, Mexico). Later in areas of more hostile climate windows were glazed with animal skins, then parchment, and finally, glass.

For many years, the material choices for "modern" or new residential windows were limited to wood, clad wood, and aluminum. Wood and clad wood remain the leading materials, accounting for almost 50% of the new and replacement window market. Wood use has been declining, however, with the rapid growth of solid vinyl windows.

Solid vinyl windows made inroads into the replacement window market in the mid-1980s; but they were not widely accepted in new homes until the 1990s, when their use skyrocketed. Solid vinyl windows now account for an estimated 30% of the new-home market and 60% of the replacement market.

Aluminum windows account for about 15% of window sales, with the remaining share of the market spread among fiberglass windows and a variety of hybrids and composites that have entered the fray, making window selection today anything but simple.

Window Latches, Fasteners, Tracks, Window Weights, and Window Components as Indicators of Building Age

Window latch (from the 1840 Justin Morrill Smith Historic house in Vermont. © Daniel Friedman

At above left is a photograph of an 1840 window latch on a historic landmark property, the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont. At above right is a photograph of an more modern window latch on the same historic landmark property, the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont. This window latch is a precursor to the simple, modern window latch.

Window latch from the 1840 Justin Morrill Smith Historic house in Vermont.( C) Daniel Friedman

At below left, a 1940's era knob-operated latch on a casement window on a Buenos Aires apartment. This window latch combines a knob, shaft and gears to extend or retract vertical brass bars that latch a larger casement window found on an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The more recent window latch at below right is installed on a home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, NY. [Date pending, approximately 1935]

Window latch, Buenos Aires, Argentina © Daniel Friedman Window latch, Clinton Hill Brooklyn NY © Daniel Friedman


also at WINDOW TYPES - Photo Guide we describe windows and doors as clues to building age, including window style, size, placement, construction, and hardware, as well as door style and hardware.

Window Operators & Handles: Awning & Casement Windows

PHOTO of a window operator crank, Hong Kong (C) 2011 Daniel Friedman & W.H.L.

Question: What is The Proper Name for "Window Cranks" on Casement & Awning Type Windows?

For "Window Latches, Fasteners, Tracks, Window Weights, and Window Components as Indicators of Building Age" section, I would like to offer a photo of window hardware and to ask for the exact name of it. It is grateful if you can help. - Ed. - Hong Kong

Reply: Window Operators & Handles

The photo (above left) you sent in is a window operator crank assembly installed in Hong Kong, referred to in American English by homeowners or inspectors as a "window crank" but if we accept the terminology used by window manufacturers, the assembly is more properly called a "window operator" and the handle is an "operator handle" or "window operator handle".

This common window crank is used on casement windows, awning windows, and some jalousie windows. This window operator design has been in use from (about) 1935 to the present and is ubiquitous.

As you doubtless observed, the assembly combines an internal gear and hinged lever to cause an awning or casement window to open or shut. The window crank in your photo appears to be an older unit, perhaps cast of aluminum or pot metal.

Window crank, casement ca 1970, Haddonfield New Jersey © Daniel Friedman

Often we find that the gears on these units are stripped and the crank no longer works. Often the geared (spline) shaft onto which the operator handle mounts has been stripped, or the internal hub of the operator handle that matches with the geared shaft has been stripped internally, usually because the operator was forced when the window was stuck or latched shut.

At left is a similar window crank on a Haddonfield New Jersey home in the U.S. - it ws inoperative and the window had long been painted and caulked shut.

Watch out: making a window non-operational may solve a problem with leaky sashes or damaged window hardware, but the loss of ability to open a window may violate local building ventilation standards and in some locations where a window is also required for use as an emergency exit, sealing it is unsafe as well.

A check with a major manufacturer of windows in the U.S. (Anderson) confirms that that company also refers to the entire assembly as the "window operator" and refers to the "operator handle" when referring only to the part of the control that is grasped and turned by the user and not the entire assembly.

You can see these details on pages 25 & 34 in Anderson A-Series Casement Windows & Window Parts.

If you intended to ask the specific brand name of the product shown in the photo (above left) we would need to do further research.

Window Construction Details as Indicators of Building Age

Two over two large pane but antique window sash, New York © Daniel Friedman

Hand-built trim, window stools and sashes seen outside or indoors the presence of window sash details such as through muntins, pegged sashes, single vs double hung, glass type, frame type, window pane size, and window measurements all can form useful clues to the age of a building.

Below we illustrate two window sash construction details that indicate a hand-made window sash: the top or bottom of the sash may show rectangular marks where window muntins (pane dividers) pass completely through the window sash frame in a mortise and tenon construction design using through-mortised tenons.

A list of window features that can help determine its age and thus form a clue to building age includes at least the following:

At below right we see that the window sash corners were secured using wooden pegs.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Pegged window sash corners - a handmade window sash © Daniel Friedman Through muntins - a handmade window sash © Daniel Friedman

Below at left our photograph shows this window from the building interior. This is a two-over-two window with a single movable sash, the lower one. The sash would have been supported in its raised position by a manual push-pin or later a spring-loaded pin that moved through the sash side into a hole in the sash track. This window design pre-dates window weights and later sash spring or rope designs.

Two over two window © Daniel Friedman Window rope detail (C) D Friedman

At above right is a later window sash design that used a pulley, rope, and sash weight to support moveable window sashes. This window and its window rope repair are detailed at WINDOW SASH REPAIR.

(Photos of various window hardware components with age dating details wanted. CONTACT Us)

Exterior Storm Windows, History, Dating, Hardware Details

Wood frame turnbuckle storm windows FDR estate Hyde Park NY © Daniel Friedman

At above left the windows are protected by wood-framed turnbuckle-secured storm windows that are hung from a simple clip over the window top. These storm windows would have been exchanged seasonally for wood-framed screens installed into the same opening and mounted using the same hardware. Details of these wood framed storm windows are shown below - at an installation at the FDR historic home and estates in Hyde Park, New York.

Storm window hanger clip, FDR estate, Hyde Park NY © Daniel Friedman Wood frame turnbuckle storm windows FDR estate Hyde Park NY © Daniel Friedman

At above right we see some additional detail: this window was originally also equipped with an awning - that mount to the left and below the turnbuckle held the horizontal arm that supported the lower segment of an awning. We also see that there are multiple layers of paint on these wood surfaces and should assume that lead paint is present.

Where to Buy Windows & Window Parts or Replacement Windows

Old windows & doors Hugsonville NY © Daniel Friedman

That window types are often mixed on older buildings is evident in this photograph (left) of a pre-1900 building observed in Hughsonville, New York. We see six-over-six sashes in the upper windows and two-over-two sashes in the lower windows of this dilapidated building.

[Click to enlarge any image]


Continue reading at DOOR HARDWARE AGE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine - home\


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