In 1921, Indiana glass blower Charles G. Overmyer invented a new
type of glass drawer knob, granted Patent No. 1,487,355 on March 18,
1924. The usual style, still being produced today, has a small
hole all the way through its axis; a long screw passes through the knob
and drawer front and a nut secures the knob in place. The Overmyer design
does away with the knob hole and screw; instead, the knob has a threaded
neck which is either screwed directly into a ½" hole in softwood,
cutting its own threads, or for hardwood, is held in place from the back
via a metal sleeve in a 5/8" hole.
Economical to Install · Satisfactory in Use · Beautiful in Appearance
By avoiding the through hole, Overmyer's design greatly improves
the beauty of the knob, since now it can be made in solid glass with
no voids or opaque hardware. No tools are needed to install it, and
since the end of the neck is exposed, light may be introduced at that
point to light up the knob. Overmyer's patent proposes a cavity in
the neck which might be filled with white lead or mercury to reflect
light entering the knob from the front, brightening its appearance.
In practice, this feature was not used and the necks are solid.
Overmyer's original sleeve is inserted from the back and the knob
screws into it from the front and pulls tight against the drawer face.
The flange is stamped "PATENTED / 1487355", and is punched several times
to form sharp points on the inner surface so it will grip the wood and
not spin when the knob is tightened. The sleeves come in several depths,
5/8" being the most common.
The same threaded design can be used for pulls as well as knobs. But,
since the pull can't just be screwed into the sleeve, a different type of
sleeve is needed, one with a slot for a flat screwdriver so that the sleeve
itself can be screwed onto the stationary pull. This is an iffier business,
and the pulls are prone to breaking. However, if you can get them on, the
finished, all-glass look is spectacular.
||There is also a hybrid, trident-style pull (see left) with a single central
threaded stem, but it is uncommon and I don't much like it!
This was not the first appearance of solid threaded glass knobs.
Overmyer's improvement was the threaded metal sleeve which held the
knob in place (making installation much easier— basically foolproof),
not the threading of the knob itself. An earlier, so-called "Sandwich
Glass" type, in clear and opal, came first. There is no metal sleeve
for these, they just screw directly into the wood. The stem of the
largest knob in this group is a whopping 1¼" in diameter!
Overmyer knobs come in many colors and styles and were made by several
companies, including Consolidated Factories, Ltd of Santa Ana ("STA-PUT"),
and Technical Glass Co of Los Angeles and New York. They were often seen
on 1920s kitchen cabinets generically called "Hoosiers" due to their
Indiana build; makers were Hoosier Mfg Co, Sellers, Wilson, Napanee,
Kitchen Maid, Diamond, Landau, Hopper and others. They are reproduced
today (with new brass sleeves), usually in clear glass. I bought all my
originals on eBay where they were not very popular, since they
are not the usual sort and won't fit a cabinet unless it's altered by
drilling large holes in it, something most people are loath to do.