Around Kraków, near the handles of old doors you can find signs asking you to “nie zamykać” (don’t close) the door. The reason is that the door had a special door closer – a mechanical device that automatically closed the door in a controlled manner. As such door closers were a novelty at the beginning of the 20th century, people needed this reminder.
Most signs that I came across consisted of just the two words “nie zamykać,” but a couple are also accompanied by a manufacturer’s mark, advertising the company that produced the closer. The signs date from before WWI, some from the interwar period.
I have not come across such signs in Lviv; however, I did find quite a few examples in Vienna. Some of the signs even include an image of the door closer, as can be seen in the first two images below:
The signs in Vienna say in German “schliesst selbst,” which means “self-closing.” The third one also has the inscription “nicht zumachen,” meaning “don’t close.”
Here is an example of a vintage manual door closer, the kind that would have been used on these doors: