Old Sash Window Hardware
Images galleries will ‘lazy load’ as you scroll down. Click them for larger images presented as a slideshow.
Sharing this information
We undertook this research ‘for the public record’. Please include a link to this article if sharing it or posting elsewhere, either in part or full.
Table of Contents
A look at the various sash window catches, handles, pulley and other oddities of architectural ironmongery that have been attached to traditional timber sash windows.
Sash Fasteners / Sash Catches
Sash fasteners are the catches fitted to the inside meeting rails of a sash window, latching the two sashes together. The earliest types of sash fasteners may have simply been a wedge, pin or wooden swivel because wooden shutters provided security during nighttime.
“The requirements of a perfect sash-fast or lock, are that it shall fulfil the following conditions : First , it must be so constructed that it cannot be opened from without by a knife or by jarring the window. Second, it should, in closing, draw the two sashes tightly together, and, at the same time, should not be affected by any small inequalities of adjustment. Third, it should always remain either open or shut, with some sort of spring contrivance to hold the lever in position, so that it will not be possible to leave the lock partially turned, thereby running the risk of breaking the muntins when the window is raised. Fourth, it should have no projections which could possibly tear the sash ; and fifth, and perhaps most important of all, it should be simple in construction and in its operation.”
The most common catch during the Eighteenth Century was the quadrant lever catch. These consist of a body, attached to the top sash, with a lever arm that rotates through a quarter of a circle to locate on a keep-plate mounted on the lower sash. These catches provided no security from a ‘sneak-thief’ because they are too easily opened from the outside. Many variations were patented with rebated plates, spring actions, ratchets and other security improvements but the basic principle remained vulnerable.
Hook / Claw Fasteners
Similar to the quadrant arm catches but the body with a rotating hook is fixed to the lower sash and the keep-plate is mounted to the top sash.
Appearing towards the end of the 18th Century the fitch or crescent fastener became the most popular catch during the 19th century and remains popular today. This style has a body fixed to the lower sash with a semi-circular arm that is cam shaped which rotates into a clasp fixed on the top sash. The cam action actively pulls the sashes tighter together, making illegal entry much harder.
“Brighton Pattern” Sash Fastener
The “Brighton Pattern” has a body fixed to the upper sash with a spring-loaded nut and bolt that locates into the keep-plate mounted on the lower sash. The nut is wound tight, effectively bolting the sashes together. This fastener does not start to appear in catalogues until the 1920s although similar spring bolts appeared circa 1900.
Many ‘Burglar Proof Sash Fasteners’ have been patented, although not all made it to production. The Brighton Pattern is probably the most effective ‘Burglar Proof’ Fastener followed by the more popular and easier to operate Fitch Fastener.
Sash Lifts & Pulls
Sash lifts are fitted to the inside face of the lower sash to provide a convenient grab point for operating the sash. Many various designs have been created but they can be classified as hook, handle, recessed and ‘eyes’ or hoops.
A sash plate or sash eye is fitted to the top sash, enabling a ‘long arm’ (hook on a pole) to be inserted into the sash plate for easier operation of the top sash on large windows.
Sash handles could be used as sash lifts but more commonly they would be fixed to the bottom edge of the top sash, enabling them to be pulled down whilst the bottom sash is raised.
Sash Locks & Security
Sash locks can be defined as any sash fastener, stop or other security device that is key operated.
Sash Window Pulleys
“The essential qualities of a good pulley wheel, are simply that it shall run lightly, smoothly and easily. There should be a broad hub on the axle in order to prevent the flanges from jarring or rattling against the pulley frame, and the wheels selected should be of such a size that when the face plate is mortised-in flush with the face of the hanging stile, the inner edge of the wheel will be over the centre of the box, so that sash-weights will not strike against the frame when raised or lowered”
Many variations of Victorian sash pulley were sold but they all generally fall into two grades, ‘Ordinary Grade’ Axle Pulley’s and ‘Best Grade’ Bearing Pulley’s. Any sash over 50lbs would usually require bearing pulleys.
Ordinary Grade Sash Pulleys
2″ cast iron axle-pulleys were the ordinary option. The budget range would have simple cast and polished wheels, set on steel axles in a cast iron body with a bronzed iron face plate. Better quality options incorporated a turned wheel on a gun metal axle, in a malleable iron body. A Phosphorous-Bronze face plate may be riveted in place.
Best Grade Sash Pulleys
For higher class work ‘anti-friction pulleys’ that incorporated ball bearing were used (side cheek removed in image). These higher quality pulleys would usually include a brass, nickle or bronze face plate, sometimes stamped with a makers mark or even imprinted with ornate designs. The bodies of the pulley would be malleable or wrought iron instead of the cheaper cast iron. Very occasionally expensive brass bodies and wheels were used although no advantage was gained using brass.
Wheel Groove Profile
The wheels required for sash chains have a square profile instead of the rounded profile used with cords.
Sash Pulleys were made in various sizes, relating to the diameter of the wheel, from one and three quarter inches to 3 inches, with increments of 1/4 inch between sizes. Two inch pulleys are suitable for most applications but heavier windows require heavier weights and a 3 inch pulley throws the cord farther away from the hanging stile allowing for a wider diameter of weight.
Sash Anti-Rattler's & Other Fittings
Hardware Catalogues: Sash Windows
Sections copied from architectural hardware catalogues that relate to sash windows.