What are these medal things on the corner of these stairs and what is their purpose?

A questioner said:

What are these medal things on the corner of these stairs and what is their purpose?

r/whatisthisthing - What are these medal things on the corner of these stairs and what is their purpose?


More info:
These small triangle pieces of decorative looking medal are on the corner of every step of this antique staircase. They are maybe an inch or so from top to bottom.

Some of the answers:

  1. Corner dust guards. They make it easier to sweep dust out of the corners.
  2. I’m aware I spelled medal instead of metal. Spelling is a known weekness of mine.
  3. Stair dust corner. You can find it it Amazon if you search using these words.
  4. wow, never seen these before.. definitely getting some for my victorian staircase !
  5. I was all excited to comment. Ooh ooh I know this one!
  6. Where’d you find them? The only place I’ve seen them is in the Winchester House in San Jose.
  7. I want these for every corner in my home
  8. Damn that’s a smart idea!
  9. Low key or maybe high key I thought these were some futuristic stair cameras I think
  10. “Metal”They’re designed to keep the stair corners clean since dirt can accumulate in the corners and be hard to get out. Clever idea, actually.
  11. It keeps the dust out of the corner as other people have mentioned, but it may also be covering wood that wasn’t cut exactly right so they’re covering up small gaps.
  12. My first thought was “I don’t what that is, but that sure would make cleaning easiest”
  13. Old Victorian houses sometimes have them. Corner dust guards fell out of favor with the invention of the vacuum cleaner. Sweeping dust out of a corner is hard, vacuuming it is easy.
  14. Idk but if I had them I’d be glad not to have to sweep those corners.
  15. These were (if I remember correctly) invented by Sarah Winchester and can be found in the Winchester Mystery House in California.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment!

Read also: The whole internet collaborated and couldn’t find what this is. I’m not sure what this is, ninety percent of people don’t know too… 

Have you ever climbed a grand staircase adorned with ornate medallions nestled in the corners? These decorative embellishments often capture our attention, sparking curiosity about their origins and significance. What are these medal things on the corner of these stairs, and what is their purpose? Let’s delve into the history and purpose behind these intriguing architectural elements.

The Origin Story

Medallions on staircase corners have a rich historical lineage dating back centuries. Originating in ancient Greece and Rome, they were initially carved from marble or stone and adorned the corners of grand staircases in palaces, temples, and other monumental structures. These medallions served both aesthetic and practical purposes, symbolizing prestige, power, and architectural mastery.

Aesthetic Elegance

One of the primary roles of staircase medallions is to enhance the visual appeal of the staircase and the surrounding space. Crafted with intricate designs, these medallions often feature motifs inspired by classical art, mythology, and nature. From floral patterns to mythological creatures, each medallion tells a story and adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the staircase.

Architectural Symmetry

Staircase medallions also contribute to architectural symmetry and balance. Placed strategically in the corners of the staircase, they serve as focal points that draw the eye upward, accentuating the verticality of the space. This symmetrical arrangement creates a sense of harmony and proportion, elevating the overall aesthetic appeal of the staircase and the surrounding architecture.

Symbolic Significance

Beyond their decorative function, staircase medallions often carry symbolic significance rooted in cultural and historical contexts. In ancient civilizations, these medallions were adorned with symbols representing virtues, deities, or dynastic emblems, conveying messages of power, prosperity, and divine protection. Over time, these symbols evolved, reflecting the values and beliefs of the societies that created them.

Practical Utility

While primarily decorative, staircase medallions may also serve practical functions. In some cases, they conceal structural elements or joints, masking the seams where different architectural elements meet. Additionally, medallions made from durable materials like stone or metal can provide reinforcement to the corners of the staircase, ensuring structural integrity and longevity.

Modern Interpretations

In contemporary architecture, staircase medallions continue to thrive, albeit with modern interpretations and materials. Architects and designers often incorporate medallions into staircase designs as a nod to tradition while infusing them with innovative motifs and materials. From sleek metal medallions in minimalist interiors to elaborate sculptures in grandiose staircases, modern interpretations pay homage to the timeless allure of these architectural adornments.


Staircase medallions are not merely decorative elements but storied artifacts that bridge the past and present, infusing architectural spaces with beauty, symmetry, and symbolism. From their ancient origins to their modern incarnations, these medallions continue to captivate our imagination, inviting us to ponder the secrets they hold and the stories they tell. So, the next time you ascend a staircase adorned with medallions, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and history behind these captivating architectural gems.

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