Knowledge and Education

Attention to detail alone does not guarantee excellent service; only someone with a thorough knowledge of their field can provide it. In the realm of decorative hardware, a given project may involve any number of different disciplines or crafts in the decorative arts, from locksmithing and metalsmithing, casting, and glass pressing, to patination, etching and engraving. Coordinating these disparate fields towards a perfect final package is our responsibility. As we see it, the more we know, the better that coordination becomes, so our efforts to educate ourselves as well as our clients and customers form a principle part of the company's mission.

E.R. Butler & Co. has assembled the largest collection of American builder's hardware trade catalogues and publications in the world, with volumes dating back to the early 17th century. This library also contains a comprehensive collection of volumes on design and the decorative arts, as well as an archive of the early American designs of our predecessors Robinson, Hall, Tein, and Vaughan. Together these resources provide our company with a deep well of inspiration and factual information for use in the execution of our work. They also put us in the unique position to provide educational information to designers, architects, and builders.

In concert with organizations such as the The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, E.R. Butler & Co. sponsors educational workshops for industry professionals who share both our enthusiasm for the decorative arts and our respect for the knowledge needed to produce truly expressive architectural space.

Decorative hardware can be extremely complicated. Locks and bolts, door closers and hinges are essentially small machines with many moving parts. Unlike some other machines, most hardware doesn't come with directions on use and installation and the number of forms that a door closer or lock can take approaches the infinite. Installation of certain complex pieces presents a mind-numbing challenge to even the best locksmiths and carpenters.

Like any other specialized industry, hardware possesses a vocabulary all its own - a standard lexicon that facilitates communication between manufacturers, designers, suppliers and installers. When two parties know the names of each piece and the various parts that go along with it, the process of designing, specifying and installing becomes that much easier.

With the proliferation of new technology, much of the standard vocabulary that was shared in the industry has been superceded, lost, or become obsolete.

Using our library of historic catalogs and our knowledge of today's industry, we are developing a glossary of hardware terminology and a handbook on installation for carpenters and locksmiths. Our hope is that these two volumes will become standard references within the industry, leading to the redevelopment of a shared language among industry professionals and the further advancement of the field.

Disseminating information is by no means an obligation, but we feel the more we, our clients, and our colleagues know, the closer we are to achieving a larger vision: advancing the art of hardware to its highest possible level.

–Dan Lane