Brass Rim Latches
Brass rim locks and brass rim latches were very popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras for use on both internal doors such as bathrooms to provide a little extra privacy and for adding extra security on street doors where when used like this they were more commonly referred to as night latches. Rim latches were made of either iron, pressed steel or more commonly brass. The brass rim latch seems to be the most popular choice due to the fact that rim locks are fitted on the outside of the door and can make a beautiful feature if designed with a little thought and made with a nice looking metal such as brass which really complements the honeys and browns of wood.
Today’s rim locks
Rim locks are seldom used on external doors today as people tend to favour the more secure mortice locks as these cannot be opened if an intruder were to break a window and put his hand inside the door. Rim latches on the other hand are becoming very popular again due to the resurgence in all things reclaimed and vintage which has lead to many developers and home owners replacing modern fittings with period ones. They can also be used on thinner internal doors that are not thick enough to support the use of a mortice lock.
Victorian rim latch buying advice
Victorian rim latches contain few moving parts so there is not much to go wrong apart from the most common issue which is the little V spring (see below) that often breaks after many years of use but this is an easy fix for a good locksmith who should not charge you more than around £5 per lock to form and attach a new spring.
Cleaning brass rim latches
Many Victorian brass rim latches have suffered the criminal act of being covered in paint over the years but this is normally easy enough to remove with a gentle paint stripper. If no paint is present we recommend just a vigorous rub with a rough cloth soaked in white spirits as this should remove years of hand grease and grime while at the same time retaining the all important patina.