How to Tell Antique Cast Iron Doorstops from Fakes
I finally found my thrifting unicorn … an antique doorstop that looks just like my Boston Terrier, Sushi! These doorstops are so popular that I’m sharing how to tell antique cast iron doorstops from fakes This lead me down a rabbit hole to find out all I could about these folk art collectibles that come in so many whimsical designs. So whether you are a die hard collector of antique doorstops or this is the first time you’ve heard of them, I’m sharing lots of interesting information so that you can be on the lookout for your own unicorn (or dog, or flower, or bird … you get the picture)!
This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
There were many companies (Hubley, National Foundry, Albany Foundry to name a few) that produced these doorstops in the late 18th and 19th centuries. They were at the height of popularity during the 1920s – 1940s.
With popularity comes imitation so beware of reproductions. Older doorstops will have a smoother feel while fake counterparts feel rougher or pebbly. Small chips are common but antique doorstops should never be repainted. Doorstops that have two or more pieces will be joined together with a flat, slotted screw while you can tell a repro from the telltale Phillips-head screws. Before I bought my Boston Terrier, I texted my antique dealer friend to see if I was getting a deal and she told me to flip it over to make sure the screws were old.
This book is such a great resource and chock full of information (and over 1,000 photos) with prices from 2006 …
The Doorstop Book: An Encyclopedia of Doorstop Collecting
This Obvious Doorstop Fake Made Me Laugh (notice screws in back and bright paint)
Since my doorstop has no markings, I did some research and found out that it was manufactured by Hubley (#331). Hubley put their marks on the inside of their doorstops.
Hubley advertised this doorstop, Police Dog, in the 1938-9 Sears & Roebuck Catalog for $1.19 each. How cute is the little leather collar and leash that came with the dog! You can see the indentation on my dogs neck where the collar would have been.
To create these cast iron doorstops, metalworkers carved a wooden form or hammered the design out of metal. The form was pressed into sand, making an impression, then hot cast iron was poured into the sand mold. When cool, the form was removed from the sand and the rough edges were filed down. A base coat was applied and then artists would add all the little details. After World War II, die-cast zinc replaced cast iron.
How to spot an antique … look for old screws, not Phillips head (with an x shape). Although some good reproductions will use old screws so this isn’t the best way to identify.
Look for a tight opening where pieces join together (not a wide one).
Look for original paint – some chipping is ok but they should never be repainted.
If it looks new, it probably is new! You’ll spot a modern doorstop reproduction by its rough metal and rough edges, seams that are not a tight fit, hand-painted look with bright colors and typically a Phillips-head screw holding it together.
I’m so happy to have found a little mini Sushi at that estate sale and will be on the lookout for more because I feel a new collection coming on!
Oh wow.. this was interesting to see this post..I have one too 🙂 , have it listed for sale so if you’re interested. Let me know..
You do how fun! There were three at the estate sale but I controlled myself and only bought one!
I have 3 of them I got in storage auction. How do I figure out value? I looked at the indicators in your article and they seem to be vintage, but I’m not sure.
Try this book: https://amzn.to/3f6HDqJ
I sold the aExact same one in 2015 on eBay for $450. Mine was a Hubley. All you have to do is go to eBay sold listing & put your piece in Search filter. You’ll see not whT it’s true value is, but what ppl are willing to pay! Best source of value imo. Hope that helps.
Thanks Valarie – yes eBay is great for searching for what people will actually pay as opposed to what people ask! Congrats on your $450 windfall!
Do you have pictures of yours and measurements? I’m very interested to see pictures of sides front back bottom please
I am looking for one. What is the value/ price?
looking for boston terrier 🙂 does anyone have and sell price ?
There are lots on ebay Amy: https://bit.ly/3ipaTK4
Yes I have a very old one and it seems to be very old with the flat head screw holding it together looks like original paint
Thanks for info! I was gifted some cast iron Santa Claus pieces years ago. Maybe now I can determine if actually old!
How fun Sandy! Let me know what you find out!
You reap what you sow a lot of times the older cast will have multiple layers of different color of paints a whole lot tighter in the seam well not have raised bumps or inverted bumps these are imperfections. Also parts old cast they were very OCD is the best way I know how to put it they have every line perfect the newer ones try to look not perfect so people think they’re old and there is a massive size difference reproductions are significantly smaller.
Gotta do your homework to make sure you get what you pay for!
Kelly, Mini Sushi is such a cool find.
I couldn’t believe my luck Pat!
LOVE the phrase “thrifting unicorn”!! He’s a cutie-a real find😊
Maybe my phrase will go viral Janice!
I have looked but, so far have never found one new or old. I would love to have one and thanks for all the info yours is so cute. Have a great week.
I couldn’t believe my luck Marlene! There were actually 3 of these in different sizes at the estate sale but I controlled myself and only got one!
Come to Lancaster County PA…. you can find one! I just picked up a fabulous unicorn!
You scored the unicorn of doorstops Christine!
Loved all the information on the doorstops. Thank you! Very informative. I have an old beetle one that I know for sure is old. Came from my husband’s family farm in Ohio.
Lucky you to have such a cool find Lynda!
I have one and now wonder if its old or not!!
I hope it is!
Great information Kel!
Too many unscrupulous dealers trying to pass reproductions for the real deal…(Staffordshire dogs are the biggest problem out there regarding fakes).
Glad you got a real Hubley! You can’t fake that paint!
Now Sushi has a new friend.
I need a pair of Staffordshire dogs next! Have any to spare?!
I bought a mini Boston terrier that is cast iron or lighter material with flat screw. Probably reproduction though as it is smooth but perfect paint job. Any comments would be appreciated!
As long as you love it that’s all that matters!
Have you seen the cast iron bull dog with an old hinged head?
No but now I want one!
I love these door stops
Would the molds for the bulldog doorstop be rare?
The bottoms have 3 holes in it
I’ve never seen one Dixie Lee but you should take it to an antique store and see if they can help you figure out what it’s worth!
I also have a Boston terrier cast iron door stop. The one I have has the dog with his head turned to the left. My research shows that the left facing dogs make up less than 10% of the dogs produces and are worth 50 to 100% higher than the right facing dogs. Only downfall is I think mine has been repainted a number of years ago.
I did not know that about the left facing dogs Vern! Too bad it’s been repainted but enjoy it!
Thank you for your info on the cast iron door stops. I am interested in finding one. I know the phillips head screws are a no no. Is a slot head screw original? Did they ever use a round head pin/rivet type head. Thanks again, Ray
I have no idea Ray! My screw is original but who knows if all are.
I have a cast iron dog doorstop that has been in my family for many years. It seems to have many of the characteristics you described but there are no screws anywhere that I can find . It has two pieces and I can see the seam but no screws. What does that mean ?
I am not sure Tammy. Try this website for identifying doorstops: https://www.doorstops.com/
I believe we may have one. Things seem to be falling in place that make it the one?
Love to sell at a good price.
That’s great Jeff! Hope you sell it!
I have one myself. What would be the sale value of one of these?
I’m not sure. It depends on condition. You can search on ebay to get an idea.
Hello! I have a cast iron Boston terrier door stop. My grandparents bought it while on their honeymoon at Macy’s in NYC in the early 1930s. It is one piece no screws and there are no letters or #s on it or inside it. It has the original buckle collar. How can I find out more about it and the value of it? Thanks!
Hi John, I linked to a website in my post where you can find info on antique doorstops! Good luck!
I have Boston Terrier cast iron just like the one on this website down to the little red tongue and the leather collar. It does not have a Hubley number on the bottom. Could it still be a Hubley? It was bought for my mother in the 1930’s.
How about those 1976 antique billiard balls in your picture? I have three sets of those. Would you have a market for selling them?
Hi Rosemarie! I love that little Boston Terrier! Not all Hubleys are marked but if yours is from 1930’s it’s definitely a genuine article! You can find old billiard balls for sale on Ebay & Etsy to give you an idea of what they are worth. I don’t sell – I’m strictly a collector.
Phillips head screws came out in the 1930s so vintage cast iron doorstops could use those.
I have a Boston terrier iron doorstop. Hs been in my family since about 1942 (I am 81). Has the leather collar but no screws or brads. Looks like it was sealed together some hw. No large openings. Only two pieces I believe – one un der belly and one on back. Even has a real screw tail just like real Boston. I’ve had a Boston all my life and that’s why the doorstop means so much to me. My uncle raised them before I was born. However, due to my age I am thinking of selling it but don’t what value to place on it. It does look a lot like the one you have.
You can always take it to an antique center and see if they can appraise it for you Karen. Bostons are the best! How fun that your uncle raised them!
Don’t purchase one at an antique shop. You’ll pay way to much. Try either a flea market or auction. I have a few originals and have never paid over about $30.
Lucky you for finding such great prices!
I know mine is real. I use to try carrying it around at my grandparents when I was 3 I’ll soon be 70. I have now passed it down to my son.
That’s great Wanda! Your son is lucky to have it!
Did they ever do brass? My door stop has all the markings of a hubley but mine is brass
I did some research and found one in brass. I would take it to an antiques shop and see if they can give you more info.
Thank you for the information, I am interested in Hubly cast iron bank’s and door stops. I have learned that I should NOT see Phillips head screws.
Hello, My husband was rehabbing a house and brought home what I think is a Hubley English Bulldog door stop. It checks all the boxes you indicated except for paint. Did Hubley paint them with different pattterns? Also, mine has a red painted collor and red rimmed eyes. How much does paint effect the price? I’ve seen prices vary widely from 300.00 to over 600.00. Thanks for any additional info you can give.
I have a black and white painted dog. Can’t figure out if it’s real or not. There are little chips it looks like in the cast iron.
Wow this is really interested and I really appreciate you printing it I’m just I’m trying to print it on paper so I have it because I can’t read on my phone too well. I have two of them one was my mom‘s and one was my grams and where we’re pretty sure that’s the ones they are there’s lotta look-alikes out here right thank you
Kelly, this is very heavy African American figure used as door stop but is a bank. 10” high. Has large screw in back to take apart. I will try to send photo.
Hey Joyce! I really have no idea what the value of that would be. Try going to your local antique shop or check out the website I linked to in my post.
thanks for the information
My pleasure Margaret!
How many holes are there underneath the dog
My doorstop appears to be all one piece. No screws. Smooth finish and has no markings.
Appreciate the information! Unfortunately I did repaint my grandmothers Boston terrier but I have no intention of selling & it makes me happy painted. I did look tho & mine has no screws & the seam is very tight. Maybe welded?