At first glance the purpose of a door knocker is simply to allow people outside a house to alert those inside to their presence. Such as the delightful moment the postman delivers a sweet missive from a friend.
If this were the door knocker’s only purpose, the design would have remained fundamentally a ring for the hand to take hold and a striking plate to create the resonating sound. However, it is the homeowner’s intent to convey a message that has led to the knocker’s artfully intricate evolution.
The earliest designs were figures with distorted features,
thought to ward off evil spirits or witches.
This woman, perhaps a maid who is accustomed to entering only through the servant's entrance, is now delivering a message on behalf of her mistress. Feeling the importance and wealth of the homeowner, she is intimidated and timidly raises her hand to announce her arrival.
The lion has always been more popular in England
and was roundly looked down upon in America during the Revolutionary period. It's replacement was the patriotic eagle often with warring arrows clasped firmly in its talons.
Some door knockers proclaimed the occupants' religion. The hand shaped door knocker was thought to symbolize the Hand of Fatima, which protected the house from evil and declared the occupants of the house were Muslim.
While others like this masonic inspired knocker proclaimed the resident's occupation.
Perhaps it was a favorite author that was portrayed, such as this image of William Shakespeare.
And who wouldn't love to be greeted by a playful pup?
I'm certain Tom Cat would approve!