Life After Buckles


Victorian English Aesthetic Movement Cast Iron Letter Slot in the Manner of Christopher Dresser by Archibald Kenrick & Sons (LEO Design)


On this day in 1760—263 years ago—Archibald Kenrick was born in Wrexham, in Wales, along the English border.  As a young man, he moved to Birmingham, England, where he began working as a buckle and metal horse fittings maker.  Within a few years, alas, shoelaces began to replace shoe buckles, business softened, and Kenrick opened his own iron foundry in West Bromwich, about seven miles outside of Birmingham (historic Staffordshire).

Over the years, Kenrick (who was joined in the business by his sons) made all manner of cast iron and metal objets: door hinges, door stops, handles, bell pulls, waffle irons, saucepans, kettles, coffee grinders, garden furniture, castors, bathtubs, and mole traps.  In the Nineteenth Century, a significant part of Archibald Kenricks's business was devoted to exports—shipped to other countries within the British Empire.  Kenricks is still in business today, in the same West Bromwich premises, and is best known for making window hardware and "door furniture" (metal fittings).  During World Wars One and Two, Kenricks was directed to produce hand grenades and artillery shells.

Over many years of production, Archibald Kenrick and Sons employed thousands of local workers.  They built housing for some of their employees ("Kenrick Village") and schools for their employee's children ("Kenrick School").  The foundry was a substantial part of the West Bromwich economy and the life of the community.

The cast iron letter slot, shown above, was made by Archibald Kenrick and Sons around 1878.  Made in the full flower of the Victorian Industrial Revolution, the Aesthetic Movement design is reminiscent of (or possibly designed by) Dr. Christopher Dresser.  The lifting slot cover is held-closed by gravity.  This is a fine example of the type of work executed by Archibald Kenrick and Sons.  Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome piece.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248