Vancouver Bans Doorknobs 

The notion of 'turning the doorknob' may one day go the way of 'rolling down the window.'

Vancouver has banned the humble doorknob, in a move that may set a trend around the world.

The Canadian city said that all new construction of both door handles and faucets be built with levers rather than knobs beginning in March.

Vancouver's building code was amended in September and part of the amendment was to enact the doorknob ban, which also applies to private homes.

It remains the only city in Canada with its own building code, and its decisions often influence the rest of the country.

Vancouver's action doesn't apply retroactively to existing doorknobs, so the knobby ones need not fear.

The reason behind the doorknob's banishment? Convenience.

The elderly and those with disabilities found levers to be less strenous, according to studies cited by Popular Science magazine.

On a related note, an estimated 67 million adult Americans will have arthritis by 2030.

However, doorknobs also serve a decorative function for many collectors, and the new building code has left some people concerned that they will not be able to have them in their own homes.

"To say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach," Allen Joslyn, president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America, told the International Business Times. Former building inspector Will Johnson, who helped write the new code, said it is "simply good design" and told the Sun it's not a loss if doorknobs are gone for good.

"When I look at what we are proposing, it is simply good design. It allows for homes to be built that can be used more easily for everybody," he said.

In the U.S., the first patent for pressing glass knobs by mechanical means was granted in 1824 to Pittsburgh’s John P. Bakewell for use as furniture pulls. Two years later, Henry Whitney and Enoch Robinson of the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, Mass., patented a variation of the glass pressing machine for making doorknobs.

If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, Whitney and Robinson didn’t take it well; in 1831, in what was the first patent infringement suit involving knobs in America, they sued another glass knob maker named Emmett and won $500. That same year another glass maker, Spencer Richards of Cambridge, Mass., patented one of the earliest versions of a single knob design.

Robinson broke away from New England Glass, and in the next half-century built an empire as a knob and lock manufacturer and obtained many patents. He had a passion for round things; in 1856, he built a striking round three-storey wood frame house in Sommerville, Mass. that still stands. From the air, it even resembles a knob.

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