There’s something reassuring about seeing an old-fashioned bronze handrail when you’re out and about. Bronze handrails, like the ones featured here, project a sense of class that’s difficult to replicate. It’s difficult to say exactly what it is about these handrails that’s so appealing – maybe it’s the way they invoke memories of a stylish bygone era, before the days of automatic doors and people talking on mobile phones. Maybe it’s the thought that when you went into a building that had bronze handrails outside, you were going somewhere you could trust – after all, they’d had enough thought to consider the safety of people coming in and out – but they were able to look good doing it.
So where did this elegant trend begin? And could it make a comeback in the future? Although the earliest versions of bronze alloys date back thousands of years, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that bronze began to take off as a construction material. From then, bronze handrails began to pop up across the United States as well as Great Britain.
Proprietors soon realised that giving this elegant feel to the front of their buildings improved their image in the minds of the public, who associated the look with a higher level of style and class and the handrails soon became all the rage for any establishment that wanted to be seen as more upmarket than its competitors.
So why is bronze not used as much now? As with many things, the answer probably lies with money. Businesses took advantage of cheaper materials that didn’t look as good but would save them money and therefore, iron became the choice when building metal railings or handrails, even though it was of inferior quality compared to bronze.
But is it coming back? Appearance counts for a lot in today’s world and although many have had to be very careful when it comes to spending due to the economic climate of the last few years, bronze does seem to be coming back into fashion as part of the wider hunger for all things retro. Also, a shiny bronze handrail or railing has more of a “new” feel to it, compared to an iron one that has been painted over.