Beginning in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) a wonderful new art form took route and flourished in China: the production of elegant, utilitarian furniture with clean lines and ingenious craftsmanship. This tradition of superior furniture design continued with a more heavily detailed style through the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and survived through the 20th Century with the addition of Western influences such as Shanghai Art Deco.
Since the the Ming period a signature feature of Chinese furniture design has been the use of rich, gorgeous pieces of handmade hardware. Traditional Chinese brass hardware isn't shiny and tinny like the kind you'll see in an average hardware store. It's made out of thick, heavy pieces of pure brass that have substance and heft.
For the past 15 years or so a big industry has sprung up in China refurbishing and reproducing classic Ming and Qing furniture and exporting it abroad. We source our hardware from the same workshops in China that supply the Chinese antique industry, and we buy only the best. So if you've bought a piece of Chinese furniture in the last several years and want to fix or replace the hardware, chances are that our hardware will be a close if not a perfect match.
Chinese brass hardware also looks great on non-Asian furniture as well. We've seen it used with classic American furniture, as a decorative touch on doors and garden gates, and even to spice up an otherwise ordinary cabinet or chest from your the furniture store. Two brass lions on your front door are scare away evil spirits and represent good feng shui. Have you lost a cabinet key or broken a hinge? We have those too.
Many of our brass items, such as lions and hinges, install with nails and screws just like Western hardware. Most of the cabinet plates and pulls, however, install with a pin, which threads through the wood just like a screw and is bent flat on the opposite side to hold the pull in place. While this is not a common way to attach hardware in the West, it's very easy to do and when installed properly hardware attached with brass pins is stronger than those attached with screws and cleaner than nails. Please take a look here for simple directions on how to install.
Most of our brass pieces (with the exception of some painted cabinet face plates) is raw, unlacquered brass. It's made from an alloy of copper and zinc, and oxidizes naturally, creating a dark, aged color that gives each piece an aged look. These pieces are all ''reproduction'' hardware that is designed to match existing hardware on antiques and antique reproductions, so in most cases you can leave the hardware as it is without any further treatment except to give it a quick clean.
To clean without changing the color, wipe it quickly with a rag coated with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Wipe lightly, going with the grain on larger pieces. For a little afterwards, rub it with a light colored oil such as olive oil.
Another option, which will remove some of the tarnish and make the brass shinier, is to use a commercial brass polish such as Brasso® or Twinkle®. The products contain detergents to clean the brass, abrasives to shine the surface, and oil to prevent further tarnishing. Be careful to use only a thin coating of brass polish and not to overpolish, as this will remove all the finish and make future dirt and fingerprints more obvious. One way to ensure that you don't overpolish is to coat a rag with brass polish and let it dry out for a few hours before polishing. This will buff the surface and make it less susceptible to smudging and discoloration.
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