The worldwide building boom over the last three years, coupled with increased demand for raw materials in Asia, has resulted in a roughly three-fold increase in the price of copper and zinc, both metals that are heavily used in the production of cabinet hardware. While this has certainly influenced the cost of cabinet hardware, it is interesting to note that it's also had an effect on design.
The speed and magnitude of the cost changes have not only prompted manufacturers to examine the base material used for their products, but have also resulted in the development of new finishes and increased efforts to conserve materials. Handles that were once solid are now made from tube, and knobs that were once turned are now spun. Material substitutions (zinc for brass, and steel for zinc or stainless steel) have prompted the development of new finishes to imitate the old, a change that has also broadened the choice available.
Prices aside, most of these changes have been for the better. Product selection has continued to increase, and many products have had to be re-tooled (and have improved) as a result of changes in materials.
Of course, all of this makes this catalog just that much thicker every year.
Robin C. Lee