They acquire a very special aesthetic appeal in the course of being used that testifies to a credible process of ageing and to something gained through change. Like brass, bronze is not a natural product but the upshot of human inventiveness.
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin (hence the expression ‘tin bronze’, which is still current). The specific properties of bronze underpin a great many technical developments – both in the distant past and in the hi-tech present. It is with good reason that an entire period of human history is named after this metal – the Bronze Age. Copper was man’s only working metal for a very long time before the art of alloying various metals was discovered and hence application options were extended and enhanced. Learning how to combine copper and tin to form an alloy, bronze, was an achievement on a par with the feat of industrialisation. Whereas pure copper is comparatively soft, the tin in bronze lends it great strength and hardness. Moreover, bronze is very resistant to corrosion and wear.
What, in a very literal sense, most visibly distinguishes bronze is revealed by years of use. With time, bronze hardware acquires added appeal. The patina that develops really brings out the material’s aesthetic charm and that of the lever handles made of it. Polished bronze fittings darken through the effects of the atmosphere and environment. Patina should not be thought of as being a material blemish. Rather, it bears testimony to credible ageing and the benefits of change. It also protects the surface in a natural way, somewhat like a coating of sealant.
Bronze is a material that is used as opposed to being used up and has been recovered and ist constituents recycled since time immemorial. And it is not just in facilitating the economical use of resources that bronze has affinities with “wabi-sabi”, the traditional Japanese system of values and aesthetics. Factors such as its natural ageing process, the beauty this gives rise to, its earthy colouring and ist warmly sensuous emanations imbue bronze with a quality that lends lever handles made of the material uncommon powers of adornment.
By supplying a selection of its lever handle models in bronze, FSB is reviving a tradition that was indefensibly consigned to oblivion during the heyday of post-modern architecture. Not only is bronze a material that is intricately tied up with the history of human civilisation, but it also excels by virtue of material qualities and of haptic and visual properties that from a very early stage led to its being favoured for the making of objects, fixtures and fittings in architecture – lever and pull handles included. Bronze played a major part in architecture back in antiquity, in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance period. Doors and portals on prestigious buildings still impressively bear witness to the momentous nature of this material today. Many architects cherish the noble character of bronze – and were doing so before it was rediscovered for prestigious structures in the new Berlin. The German bronze tradition goes back a long way. In the mid-19th century, Samuel Abraham Loevy set up a bronze foundry of the same name and established it as a makers of “high-quality fittings in gunmetal and yellow metal” as bronze and brass were originally referred to. Until it was expropriated by the National Socialists in 1939, the S. A. Loevy company worked for architects such as Peter Behrens or Heinrich Straumer and supplied hardware, fixtures and fittings for a great many award-winning public building projects.
There may be slight colour variations between batches where artificially aged bronze in particular is concerned. Far from being a quality defect, this phenomenon is rooted in the nature of the material and the chemical ageing process, which may give rise to slightly varying colour shades depending on the climatic or production conditions involved.
Hardware with the finish 7305 is polished and acquires a subtly natural-looking sheen as a result. Surfaces patinate in a natural manner in the course of time.
Fittings incorporating the finishes 7615 and 7625 are pre-treated adopting a method specially developed by FSB. An immersion bath for cupriferous metals imitates the natural ageing process of the material. Artificial ageing yields a typical bronze patina that is every bit as impressive as ist counterpart brought about by environmental influences. A final coating of wax at the works protects both finishes against the aforementioned external influences, which would discolour untreated bronze surfaces. The wax used can be easily removed with a proprietary cleaner and is ecologically sound.