Check out them knockers!

Street photography is my Parisian passion. But when I’m traveling with other people, it’s unreasonable to ask them to wait a half hour until the right person walks into the frame. That’s why on this last trip I concentrated instead on small architectural details I could snap on the run, almost without missing a stride.

Among Paris’ many architectural treasures, old doorknockers are my favorite. I like to imagine how many hands have touched them over the centuries — in anticipation, perhaps, of seeing a favorite mistress or meeting a new patron. How many times have they been rapped in urgency by a doctor, summoned in the middle of the night? Or with jubilation, to announce the end of a war?

I will leave you and your imagination to conjure these doorknockers’ stories.

Paris knockers poster BLOG

69 comments

    • Aren’t they lovely, Sallyann? Even the ones who have seen better days. As you say, the mind could wander forever. Thank YOU for wandering by!

    • It was one of those cases in which the photos didn’t seem strong enough to stand individually. But the whole collection is quite fetching, isn’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind comment.

  1. Fascinating how certain objects are capable of activating people’s imagination, Heide.
    I love the thoughts that the beautiful door hammers have evoked with you. It could form the basis for a good film!!

    • I have such a crazy imagination that it doesn’t take much, Hanna, LOL. But things that have seen a lot of history — churches, in particular — always seem evocative to me. I’m curious to hear more about this film idea of yours, though … 😉

  2. Paris has so many wonderful architectural details. I remember watching things dizzily. I guess it would just cost too much to do stuff like that these days…but I wish we would.

    • You’re right that the sheer visual input in Paris can be overwhelming, Anthony — I think that’s why my husband and I return whenever we can. We never get a sense of having seen it all, you know what I mean? And I hope you will one day get to return as well …

    • Next time I go to Paris I’ll bring a screwdriver, and we’ll see if we can’t just set you up with one of these puppies. 😉

    • Oooh, yes, Byddi. Let’s start a club. What shall we call it, I wonder? “The Knockers Club”? Ha ha! Thank you so much for stopping by. BTW, *loved* the photo you posted of the Conciergerie towers juxtaposed with Notre Dame. I’ve never seen anything like your image before. Nicely seen!

      • LOL – I’m leaning towards ‘The Big Knockers Club” because you know what big knockers mean…Big doors! And the doors here in Paris are huge! Glad you liked the picture – thanks for dropping by my blog – I was worried you wouldn’t find it hence the link on the other comment… should have read through all my emails first!

        • I really like “The Big Knockers Club”! My philosophy in life is, “Go big or go home,” so that’s perfect. Plus, you’re right that the doors in Paris are huge — and heavy, too. The one at the entrance to our apartment building was so hefty I needed to use my body as a counterweight to open it. I’m still wondering how that nice elderly lady two floors down managed it, LOL.

  3. It’s funny, my first association when seeing these is the awful, overly dramatic furniture hardware in the style that my parents liked around 1970. Which I still hate. But as actual, functional door knockers, I look at them afresh and see beauty and character.

    I have seen photogtaphic collections of doors, but never of knockers. What a great idea!

    • I can picture *exactly* the kind of furniture hardware you’re describing, J.P., and I can see the resemblance. And to tell the truth, I find some of these old doorknockers gaudy and unattractive too. But the fact that they’re old (and in Paris) helps overcome any aversion. Plus, they literally were the only thing I could photography sometimes as I was running down the sidewalk!

  4. I love the idea of focusing on one intricate detail in a city with so much to see and do. This is charming. I don’t know what your wall space is like, but if you have room, this would make a terrific poster, framed. You might also print out greeting cards. Fun post!

    • I’m honored that such a visual and creative person as yourself would like this idea! I also did a series on house numbers and carriage bumpers, but those will wait for some other rainy Sunday. As for the greeting card idea … well, great minds think alike. 😉

    • “Is a half hour really all that unreasonable?” THANK YOU. But … yeah, it does seem a bit much to ask, especially when the crêpe fumes are wafting about like an olfactory siren. 🙂

  5. Beautiful. A friend of mine works in a hospital here where they’re replacing all their stainless steel push plates, door handles and touchable surfaces with brass ones because of the recent research showing that brass has superior anti-microbial/bacterial properties. Next time you’re in Paris it might be worth visiting a local hardware shop!

    When you’re ancient and living in Paris part-time, you can join the sprightly old ladies tottering around with their tiny dogs, spend your evenings at intriguing nightclubs and thank your lucky stars for brass knockers!

    • What an interesting tidbit about the brass fittings — I’d never heard that before! You never cease to amaze me with the things you teach me, SbE.

      As for my dotage … I can only *hope* to be one of those wiry old ladies tottering around with their tiny dogs, spending my evenings at Le Caveau des Oubliettes (yes, I have already picked out my intriguing nightclub!). Alas, I’ll probably end up a portly Minnesota matron who spends her evenings at the local Elks Lodge and wastes her money on meat raffles. Either way, I hope I will be able to find both humor and joy in my situation.

      • For an elderly Parisian, an Elks Lodge evening would sound irresistibly, impossibly exotic. No elks, of any persuasion, in France. We never think how bored the old ladies may be with the repetitive round and round of Paris pavements. I imagine them dreaming of Minnesota, land of sky-tinted water, birthplace of their heroes, Prince and Bob Dylan. All that space and big sky. Unimaginable in Europe.

        • What a marvelous point you make — that to a Parisian our open prairies and 10,000 lakes and big cerulean skies would be downright exotic. Well done, SbE. Just like that you’ve rekindled my enthusiasm for my home state!

  6. So beautifully detailed and such an interesting focus! Immediately made me think of “A Christmas Carol,” and Scrooge’s encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley appearing on his door knocker “)) No doorbell could be so beautiful, creative looking, or captivating.

  7. Fascinating collection of knockers. I love the attention to detail paid to this this small item, The interactions that initiated would fill a library.

    Far more interesting than my standard door buzzer.

    • You’re right that they are far more interesting than some generic door buzzer, Draco. I wonder if they were status symbols, back in the day — the more ornate the door-knocker, the more wealthy its owner, perhaps? Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Oh, Ella … you honor me with your words and your kind nomination. Thank you! I hope you won’t be offended if I respectfully pass up on the award, though, as I’ve had the honor before and am fresh out of things to say about myself — and also friends to nominate. 😉 But congratulations to YOU on winning the award! And congratulations too for your blog and your own creative exploration. I hope you’ll find it as rewarding as I have over the past few years. Thank you again!

    • Thank you so much! It’s a simple idea, but it turned out to be a fine way to console myself when I didn’t have time to take “serious” photos.

        • Ha ha! Well, even toilet signs can be interesting (or even beautiful, maybe?) I suppose. Wouldn’t want to be spotted taking such a photo, tho; people think I’m weird enough already. 🙂

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