Restoring a Victorian Home is all about the details. One of the things that sets a Victorian era home apart from the typical house is the detailing in its hardware, Doorknobs, latches and hinges. In the Victorian era these typically mundane items were just as beautiful as wallpaper, mantles or lighting.
Case in point. We were "lucky" enough to have one remaining Period Lockset on the 3 exterior doors of our home. The others were long gone and had been replaced with modern lock sets and deadbolts, this is typical in most old houses. We do consider our self fortunate to have the original doors.
Restoring hardware varies depending on how many times it has been painted and what kind of paint or varnish ( sometimes when the door was varnished or shellacked back plates were covered) a lock set has. Its also important to know if you have solid or plated hardware. Plated hardware is thinner and more easily damaged by caustic chemicals used to strip paint. If you are using stripper I caution to ALWAYS test and inconspicuous are, such as the back or a lock set use in a closet for example before you just dunk them in stripper.
The best way, although it is time consuming is to carefully "pick" the paint off the lockset. Usually you can take an exacto knife and get it under the paint and lift sections of paint off. Getting into all the incised carving takes time and patience but the result is well worth it.
If you are going to be doing several of these I highly recommend going to your local office supply store and but a magnifier with light surround. Used by jewelers and artist they are perfect for seeing intricate details without straining your eyes.