At the Gates of Jankovsky

Let's discover a little known universe but which is nevertheless everywhere around us, that of door handles. Jean-Pierre and Monique Jankovsky have made it their specialty for 20 years and their stand has become a must at Paul Bert Serpette. Overflowing with these little treasures, they open the doors of their Ali Baba's cave to us...

What is your background :

I arrived in 1982 in Serpette, when the alley had just opened. My beginnings were quite "normal" since I started by presenting furniture until the 1990s. I then had the opportunity to acquire a large lot from a Norman painter, Albert Bergevin , which I sold on my stand. I then specialized in the world of the bathroom for 10 years. The transition with my current specialty was made quite naturally thanks to the acquisition of a first large batch of door handles.

Tell us about your specialty

My wife and I present on the stand everything related to the trimmings and ornaments of an interior. Door handles, knockers, locks, espagnolettes and cremone bolts, stair balls, pegs and curtain tiebacks. I immediately became attached and passionate about these objects. There are a multitude of handles and they are real little sculptures. From the rustic iron handle of a Burgundian house to the coach handle in gilded bronze, there is something for everyone! Regional peculiarities, variety of materials and ornaments make it a particularly rich speciality. It is a very small object, which has the power to give life to a door. When you walk into someone's house, it's the first thing you touch. This first contact is very important and gives an idea of the relationship you will have with the person.

How do you find all these parts?

The first thing, very important, is that you have to have a good network of merchants, otherwise it cannot work. I have been known in this specialty for 20 years and my colleagues bring me handfuls from all over France and sometimes from Europe. I often have to buy large lots, but sometimes there are exceptional things. Then comes the restoration work. At the start, the parts are often completely rusty, I now know all the cleaning techniques, it's a bit like a small kitchen but there are no recipes, just experience. Sometimes there is so much rust or layers of paint that you can't even see the decor. When I clean a handle, then something magical happens when the ornaments are revealed.

What are your favorite pieces?

I especially like the carriage handles. They are rare and the decorations are often of great finesse. I also appreciate the zoomorphic handles which are real little sculptures. You can't get enough of all these pieces, they are endless discoveries. I have around 500 pieces in my personal collection and it just keeps growing!