Knocked and ringed and belled ‘exploits’ upon the door


The knock knock, who’s there jokes might be as bluntly entertaining today as they had been once but that does not however translate the same to the core evocation of what the knock originally came about for. Of course it wasn’t anything more than a rap upon the door that knocking would be known for in its actuality but see the irony occurring across the span of time that has followed since then and the knock is an assertion that one would encounter anywhere else but upon the door. From the knock knock jokes of much amusement to the knocking upon wood upon every simultaneous utterance of touchwood being the premise of its current prevalence, this means of announcing one’s arrival at doors of houses and homes and palaces and parliaments alike however ceases to find relevance in that onomatopoeic reference of what it indeed is. And not just now, for years and decades and even a few centuries altogether, knocking upon doors has subsided and been drowned out in their sound by the more musical- even if shrilling modes of more assertive announcement.

What doors once bear the brunt of in much importance rather of owning the raps upon them in certain declaration is now a redundant almost capacity of their dwelling. It instead is the doorbell that strikes as the more functional- convenient as well as audible means in capturing attention even when there is a definite irony manifesting in the expanse of its presence. For it is nowhere upon the door that the bell manages to eke out for itself that definite space, restricted instead to somewhere just on the walls around them where they are ‘strategically positioned’ and well fitted so as to most efficiently serve the function of all intention.

doorbell image
Source: eBay

That leap from the exclusively unaided effort by the human hands to the pressing prominence of the first mechanical and then- or now digital doorbell though was availed through a transitional phase harbouring some commonality with either assertion upon that arena. In between reigned supreme the visibly as well as audibly pronounced effectiveness of the door knockers that managed to keep the knocking tradition relevant for some more years at least. Door knockers still very much exist in the present day and age as well and continue to cater to that same end in making known a human presence but it still is the doorbell that manages to create more buzz in its impression to present itself as the more utilitarian option of the contemporary times.

Door knockers tends to be definitely more standout though in the awareness of their structure, even when it is just a ring or a hammer that passes off as fulfilling adequately that necessity in signalling of someone’s presence. And definitely all the more eye catching happens to be the door knocker in such designs and makes that are very characteristically ornate, usually taking the form and shape of something towering almost upon the human person. At other times it can be some symbolic representation that finds expression as a door knocker, significant again in such case as well and in a manner that goes beyond the functioning essence of it.

This significance that door knockers have come to amass for themselves in such measure that makes them circulate still despite their ‘outdatedness’ as far as technological considerations are concerned. Largely antique in their vibe even when coming across as a modern day make are these first aiders of the knocking pursuit even when they are manufactured as well in stylish, sophisticated designs. Boasting a certain unique charm that plays through their always unmissable appeal are these door knockers that go back years in history to chart out their origin in times as early as the expanse of an ancient Greece.

Source: Cast in Style

Refined in their tastes even in antiquity, the Greeks, at least the high class of them, considered it below their dignity to have to shout out the privilege of bringing their gracious presence upon the homes and hearths of others and devised thus this ingenious means in calling for attention That though had been an improvisation upon an earlier technique that featured a short iron bar attached to a chain meant to rap the door with. The diverse potential inherent in the iron identity however also left the owners of the house at risk of facing attack unfurled through that same agent in knocking. It was to dismiss such issues in danger while still retaining their sophistication that the early Greeks devised the ring version of the knocker fastened to the door that did not yield any such potential in threatening. And to their win, the door knockers also carried with them the provision of functioning as a door handle as well in even more impressive a deliverance in convenience.

But even with such resourcefulness of their nature and the mostly artistic fore of appearance, door knockers had to make way for doorbells to sound their very distinctive ring. Just why this shift in design and technique was necessitated does not come across in any clear cut explanation as to serving that common need in announcing arrivals at places of human residence. But the fact that it occurred, and took over in much popularity as well, points surely to a very basic tendency of human kind- to constantly develop and innovate and work upon existing ideas so as to better their own experience in existence.

charm of the doorbell
Source: iStock

And yet it wouldn’t be until the 18th century that the first such device identifying as a doorbell rather than a door knocker would emerge, precisely drawing upon the year of 1817 as an invention by Scottish man William Murdoch who first installed one of these loud sounding devices at his own home. The electric doorbell very soon followed in some assertion of it with American Joseph Henry inventing a version of it in 1831. And while Murdoch’s invention was based in its working upon a piped system of compressed air, a simultaneously occurring ringing loudness was worked out by means of a handled device leading some hammer to strike the bell.

In each of these types of the bell, it was only the technique that differed in producing however the same, unpleasant shrill ring that continued to resound throughout the remainder of that century and even the early years of the 1900s as well. Even when a particular addition of the buzzer was made in 1897, the resultant sound occurred as noise still though it would be somewhat toned down that the ear piercing nuisance of the pronouncedly shrill cacophony.

The ring of the doorbell came to be more pleasant an assertion of the musical starting with the 1930s, beginning to reside in that charm of what would occur across as the surprise visitor alluding perhaps. With the introduction of the door chime in particular, doorbells brought upon themselves that singing identity of numerous notes and tones and euphonies and symphonies of whatever it was made to encompass as part of its proclamatory essence. In their more refined sounding, door chimes began to be coveted and flaunted items of status and class as well even as they tended to be as standout in their appearance, tall and elegant and striking and indeed inviting of visitors and their accompanying lavishing of praise upon the owners of houses.

ringing the doorbell

That esteem of the status that doorbells enjoyed in that time of their history, as status symbol themselves over and above very essential pieces of home utilities, dwindled as changes in design aspirations across the understanding of architectural decor evolved as well to prefer subtlety over standout, at least in most cases of them. Accompanying also was the urgent need to make the most out of even the littlest spaces meaning therefore that whatever could very well afford to tone down their physical visage would be adapted to do exactly that. What ensued out of this mindful attention to eliminating details as far as possible was doorbells being reduced to being purely functional entities without any emphasis on their physicality. That however related only to the aspect of their appearance, or rather the hiding of it, and not to the quality of their tone as they continued to churn out a diverse range of music as per personal tastes and preferences.

This thrust upon the essence of doorbells though stands in much significance since it continues to uphold the need of them. In spite of their hidden from view awareness for quite a length of time now, these devices producing the chimes and bells and rings does not quite have to deal with the prospect of fading away. That, even with the introduction of such technology that does not really call for a doorbell as a means in communicating and declaring one’s arrival in person still having not managed to drive them to doom speaks indeed of the versatility that they have attained in fine tuning of their ‘voice’ if not the function.

In fact, the development of technology has fostered instead another dimension of importance for doorbells to dwell in. Now intertwined with such provisions that does not just announce arrivals but also allow a peek into the identity of them are these smart doorbells that are even more functional and efficient an exploration in convenience as well as of security. Striking thus a different chord across different notions of its existence and evolution, the once fancy now futuristic essence of the doorbell has forever managed to hold intact its fascination even in functionality.