✅ SOLVED Antique clay brick expert please help!

USNFLYR

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Dec 17, 2018
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Hey sleuths….once again I need your help.

I found this brick in my usual stomping grounds: confluence of rivers near the Columbia River. I have found Salmon fishing, Native American, trapper, military and wharf artifacts here. This brick has been collecting moss in my garden. The measurements indicate it is the standard brick size from 1820 and beyond. I am not an expert, but I believe this brick was hand made (not factory manufactured). It has always perplexed me on why/how the groove was put there. At first I thought it was industrial and had a purpose, maybe for drainage or maybe if placed with another opposite brick it could have held in place a pole/pipe, etc. But upon further inspection, the brick clearly was "worked" on. The groove definitely angles down, like someone was plying force in a downward and outward fashion. If some one wanted to design a utility purpose wouldn’t they have done so during the molding process? It looks like this was used for sharpening and/honing a cylindrical object. Maybe a salmon jigger? The (non modern) age of the brick also means the Native Americans could have used it as well.

Any ideas to the age of the brick…..and the reason it was modified?
 

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ANTIQUARIAN

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My first thought was that it's a flaw in the drying/hardening process. Maybe it was placed at an odd angle on the drying shelf or in the kiln and the impression was left by one of the shelf supports? :icon_scratch:

Back in the 17th & 18thc, bricks were made by hand at this time. A basic summary of the steps in brick production starts with collecting the main ingredient: clay. Clay was dug out of an open pit and packed into a wooden brick mold which was left to dry. The bricks were then stacked and fired in large quantities at once, resulting in bricks of different quality based on where they had been placed in the kiln and therefore how they had been heated. Bricks from this time occasionally still have their maker’s preserved fingerprints visible on the surface. During the Dutch and English colonial periods, brick-making partially relied on the labor of enslaved Africans despite measures to exclude enslaved or free Black people from the trades.

There is an often repeated anecdote about bricks in colonial America—that English and Dutch colonizers imported large amounts of bricks from Europe to their settlements. Along with providing building material for the colonies, these shipments of brick also supposedly provided ballast for the ships on their westward transatlantic trip. This assertion has been challenged by Fiske Kimball in Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic where he states that the story comes from a misinterpretation of the terms “Dutch brick” and “English brick” (which can refer to the size or bond of American-made bricks) and that brick importation was negligible or completely unknown in most American colonies. Kimball notes that New Netherland was the only exception, and that bricks were imported from The Netherlands starting in 1633; however, bricks were also being produced in the colony as early as 1628. The brick structures in New Amsterdam were made of domestic brick supplemented by European brick. By the latter decades of the 18th century, New York was producing enough brick to ship and sell them to other colonies along the Atlantic coast.
 

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pepperj

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Hey sleuths….once again I need your help.

I found this brick in my usual stomping grounds: confluence of rivers near the Columbia River. I have found Salmon fishing, Native American, trapper, military and wharf artifacts here. This brick has been collecting moss in my garden. The measurements indicate it is the standard brick size from 1820 and beyond. I am not an expert, but I believe this brick was hand made (not factory manufactured). It has always perplexed me on why/how the grove was put there. At first I thought it was industrial and had a purpose, maybe for drainage or maybe if placed with another opposite brick it could have held in place a pole/pipe, etc. But upon further inspection, the brick clearly was "worked" on. The grove definitely angles down, like someone was plying force in a downward and outward fashion. If some one wanted to design a utility purpose wouldn’t they have done so during the molding process? It looks like this was used for sharpening and/honing a cylindrical object. Maybe a salmon jigger? The (non modern) age of the brick also means the Native Americans could have used it as well.

Any ideas to the age of the brick…..and the reason it was modified?
1800s as the area was settled.

Small manufacturer of this brick, as no name, so hand casted would be a guess as to the imperfections.

Interesting that the brick manufacturing was from mainly from the mid 1800's and ramped up til the 1920's.
( Lots of history regarding the dates of manufacturing)

I would guess a weeping hole for moisture.
The other thought is where the placement of the star bolt anchor went through the brick.
 
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USNFLYR

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1800s as the area was settled.

Small manufacturer of this brick, as no name, so hand casted would be a guess as to the imperfections.

Interesting that the brick manufacturing was from mainly from the mid 1800's and ramped up til the 1920's.
( Lots of history regarding the dates of manufacturing)

I would guess a weeping hole for moisture.
The other thought is where the placement of the star bolt anchor went through the brick.
Thanks for the great info.

I agree it would be 1800s ....maybe 1850 ish...and that it was hand casted. The photos don't show it too well, but on one side of the upper groove shows a shallow scraped area angling out of the groove. It appears that a possible item was slipping out of the groove occasionally. This is why I believe it was used to sharpen a wooden or metal ....something?.....I am trying to connect with the Fort Vancouver people for more solutions.
 
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USNFLYR

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My first thought was that it's a flaw in the drying/hardening process. Maybe it was placed at an odd angle on the drying shelf or in the kiln and the impression was left by one of the shelf supports? :icon_scratch:

“These bricks were brought to Manhattan in sailing ships as ballast and sold as building bricks in the late 17th and 18th centuries.”

Bricks were made by hand at this time. A basic summary of the steps in brick production starts with collecting the main ingredient: clay. Clay was dug out of an open pit and packed into a wooden brick mold which was left to dry. The bricks were then stacked and fired in large quantities at once, resulting in bricks of different quality based on where they had been placed in the kiln and therefore how they had been heated. Bricks from this time occasionally still have their maker’s preserved fingerprints visible on the surface. During the Dutch and English colonial periods, brick-making partially relied on the labor of enslaved Africans despite measures to exclude enslaved or free Black people from the trades.

There is an often repeated anecdote about bricks in colonial America—that English and Dutch colonizers imported large amounts of bricks from Europe to their settlements. Along with providing building material for the colonies, these shipments of brick also supposedly provided ballast for the ships on their westward transatlantic trip. This assertion has been challenged by Fiske Kimball in Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic where he states that the story comes from a misinterpretation of the terms “Dutch brick” and “English brick” (which can refer to the size or bond of American-made bricks) and that brick importation was negligible or completely unknown in most American colonies. Kimball notes that New Netherland was the only exception, and that bricks were imported from The Netherlands starting in 1633; however, bricks were also being produced in the colony as early as 1628. The brick structures in New Amsterdam were made of domestic brick supplemented by European brick. By the latter decades of the 18th century, New York was producing enough brick to ship and sell them to other colonies along the Atlantic coast.
Thanks. Great ideas and info!
 
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