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An old brick wall in English bond laid with alternating courses of headers and stretchers
Bricked Front Street along the Cane River in historic Natchitoches, Louisiana

A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using mortar.



The Roman Constantine Basilica in Trier, Germany, built in the 4th century with fired bricks as audience hall for Constantine I

Bricks dated 10,000 years old were found in the Middle East, and the earliest mention of brick making was found in the Bible, Exodus 1:14; 5:4-19.[1]

And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.(KJV) -Exodus 1:14
Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. ... And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore? ...There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. ... Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks. ... And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. (KJV) -Exodus 5:7~8, 14, 16, 18~19

These records showed the Israelites made bricks for their Egyptian rulers with earth and straw.[1]

Examples of the civilizations who used mud brick are the ancient Egyptians[2] and the Indus Valley Civilization, where it was used exclusively. In particular, it is evident from the ruins of Buhen, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.

The first sun-dried bricks were made in Mesopotamia (what is now Iraq), in the ancient city of Ur in about 4000 BC, although the arch used for drying the bricks was not actually found.[2]

The ancient Jetavanaramaya stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is one of the largest brick structures in the world.
The world's highest brick tower of St. Martin's Church in Landshut, Germany, completed in 1500
Malbork Castle, former Ordensburg of the Teutonic Order - biggest brick castle in the world

In Sumerian times offerings of food and drink were presented to "the Bone god", who was "represented in the ritual by the first brick".[citation needed] More recently, mortar for the foundations of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was mixed with accompanied by prayers, placed between every 12 bricks.[citation needed]

The Romans made use of fired bricks, and the Roman legions, which operated mobile kilns, introduced bricks to many parts of the empire. Roman bricks are often stamped with the mark of the legion that supervised their production. The use of bricks in southern and western Germany, for example, can be traced back to traditions already described by the Roman architect Vitruvius.

In pre-modern China, brick-making was the job of a lowly and unskilled artisan, but a kiln master was respected as a step above the latter.[3] Early traces of bricks were found in a ruin site in Xi'an in 2009 dated back about 3800 years ago. Before this discovery, it is widely believed that bricks appeared about 3000 years ago in the Western Zhou dynasty since the earliest bricks were found in Western Zhou runes. [4][5][6] These bricks are the earliest bricks discovered that were made by a fired process.[7] Early descriptions of the production process and glazing techniques used for bricks can be found in the Song Dynasty carpenter's manual Yingzao Fashi, published in 1103 by the government official Li Jie, who was put in charge of overseeing public works for the central government's construction agency. The historian Timothy Brook writes of the production process in Ming Dynasty China (aided with visual illustrations from the Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedic text published in 1637):

The brickwork of Shebeli Tower in Iran displays 12th century craftsmanship

...the kilnmaster had to make sure that the temperature inside the kiln stayed at a level that caused the clay to shimmer with the colour of molten gold or silver. He also had to know when to quench the kiln with water so as to produce the surface glaze. To anonymous laborers fell the less skilled stages of brick production: mixing clay and water, driving oxen over the mixture to trample it into a thick paste, scooping the paste into standardized wooden frames (to produce a brick roughly 42 cm long, 20 cm wide, and 10 cm thick), smoothing the surfaces with a wire-strung bow, removing them from the frames, printing the fronts and backs with stamps that indicated where the bricks came from and who made them, loading the kilns with fuel (likelier wood than coal), stacking the bricks in the kiln, removing them to cool while the kilns were still hot, and bundling them into pallets for transportation. It was hot, filthy work.[8]

The idea of signing the worker's name and birth date on the brick and the place where it was made was not new to the Ming era and had little or nothing to do with vanity.[9] As far back as the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–206 BC), the government required blacksmiths and weapon-makers to engrave their names onto weapons in order to trace the weapons back to them, lest their weapons should prove to be of a lower quality than the standard required by the government.[10]

In the 12th century, bricks from Northern-Western Italy were re-introduced to Northern Germany, where an independent tradition evolved. It culminated in the so-called brick Gothic, a reduced style of Gothic architecture that flourished in Northern Europe, especially in the regions around the Baltic Sea which are without natural rock resources. Brick Gothic buildings, which are built almost exclusively of bricks, are to be found in Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia.

During the Renaissance and the Baroque, visible brick walls were unpopular and the brickwork was often covered with plaster. It was only during the mid-18th century that visible brick walls regained some degree of popularity, as illustrated by the Dutch Quarter of Potsdam, for example.

Chile house in Hamburg, Germany

The transport in bulk of building materials such as bricks over long distances was rare before the age of canals, railways, roads and heavy goods vehicles. Before this time bricks were generally made close to their point of intended use. It has been estimated that in England in the eighteenth century carrying bricks by horse and cart for ten miles (16 km) over the poor roads then existing could more than double their price.[citation needed]

Bricks were often used, even in areas where stone was available, for reasons of speed and economy. The buildings of the Industrial Revolution in Britain were largely constructed of brick and timber due to the demand created. During the building boom of the nineteenth century in the eastern seaboard cities of Boston and New York City, for example, locally made bricks were often used in construction in preference to the brownstones of New Jersey and Connecticut for these reasons.

The trend of building upwards for offices that emerged towards the beginning of the 19th century displaced brick in favor of cast and wrought iron and later steel and concrete. Some early 'skyscrapers' were made in masonry, and demonstrated the limitations of the material – for example, the Monadnock Building in Chicago (opened in 1896) is masonry and just seventeen stories high; the ground walls are almost 6 feet (1.8 m) thick, clearly building any higher would lead to excessive loss of internal floor space on the lower floors. Brick was revived for high structures in the 1950s following work by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Building Research Establishment in Watford, UK. This method produced eighteen-story structures with bearing walls no thicker than a single brick (150–225 mm). This potential has not been fully developed because of the ease and speed in building with other materials; in the late-20th century brick was confined to low- or medium-rise structures or as a thin decorative cladding over concrete-and-steel buildings or for internal non-load-bearing walls.

Methods of manufacture

Brick making at the beginning of the 20th century.

Bricks may be made from clay, shale, soft slate, calcium silicate, concrete, or shaped from quarried stone.

Clay is the most common material, with modern clay bricks formed in one of three processes - soft mud, dry press, or extruded.

In 2007 a new type of brick was invented, based on fly ash, a by-product of coal power plants.

Mud bricks

The soft mud method is the most common, as it is the most economical. It starts with the raw clay, preferably in a mix with 25-30% sand to reduce shrinkage. The clay is first ground and mixed with water to the desired consistency. The clay is then pressed into steel moulds with a hydraulic press. The shaped clay is then fired ("burned") at 900-1000 °C to achieve strength.

Rail kilns

Xhosa brickmaker at kiln near Ngcobo in the former Transkei in 2007.

In modern brickworks, this is usually done in a continuously fired tunnel kiln, in which the bricks move slowly through the kiln on conveyors, rails, or kiln cars to achieve consistency for all bricks. The bricks often have added lime, ash, and organic matter to speed the burning.

Bull's Trench Kilns

In India, brick making is typically a manual process. The most common type of brick kiln in use there are Bull's Trench Kiln (BTK), based on a design developed by British engineer W. Bull in the late nineteenth century.

An oval or circular trench, 6-9 meters wide, 2-2.5 meters deep, and 100-150 meters in circumference, is dug. A tall exhaust chimney is constructed in the centre. Half or more of the trench is filled with "green" (unfired) bricks which are stacked in an open lattice pattern to allow airflow. The lattice is capped with a roofing layer of finished brick.

In operation, new green bricks, along with roofing bricks, are stacked at one end of the brick pile; cooled finished bricks are removed from the other end for transport. In the middle the brick workers create a firing zone by dropping fuel (coal, [wood], oil, debris, etc) through access holes in the roof above the trench.

West face of Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark.

The advantage of the BTK design is a much greater energy efficiency compared with clamp or scove kilns. Sheet metal or boards are used to route the airflow through the brick lattice so that fresh air flows first through the recently burned bricks, heating the air, then through the active burning zone. The air continues through the green brick zone (pre-heating and drying them), and finally out the chimney where the rising gases create suction which pulls air through the system. The reuse of heated air yields savings in fuel cost.

As with the rail process above, the BTK process is continuous. A half dozen laborers working around the clock can fire approximately 15,000-25,000 bricks a day. Unlike the rail process, in the BTK process the bricks do not move. Instead, the locations at which the bricks are loaded, fired, and unloaded gradually rotate through the trench.[11]

Dry pressed bricks

The dry press method is similar to mud brick but starts with a much thicker clay mix, so it forms more accurate, sharper-edged bricks. The greater force in pressing and the longer burn make this method more expensive.

Extruded bricks

With extruded bricks the clay is mixed with 10-15% water (stiff extrusion) or 20-25% water (soft extrusion). This is forced through a die to create a long cable of material of the proper width and depth. This is then cut into bricks of the desired length by a wall of wires. Most structural bricks are made by this method, as hard dense bricks result, and holes or other perforations can be produced by the die. The introduction of holes reduces the needed volume of clay through the whole process, with the consequent reduction in cost. The bricks are lighter and easier to handle, and have thermal properties different from solid bricks. The cut bricks are hardened by drying for between 20 and 40 hours at 50-150 °C before being fired. The heat for drying is often waste heat from the kiln.

Calcium silicate bricks

The raw materials for calcium silicate bricks include lime mixed with quartz, crushed flint or crushed siliceous rock together with mineral colourants. The materials are mixed and left until the lime is completely hydrated, the mixture is then pressed into moulds and cured in an autoclave for two or three hours to speed the chemical hardening. The finished bricks are very accurate and uniform, although the sharp arrises need careful handling to avoid damage to brick (and brick-layer). The bricks can be made in a variety of colours, white is common but pastel shades can be achieved.

It is very common in Sweden, especially in houses built or renovated in the '70s. Here it is referred to as "Mexitegel" (en: Mexi[can] Bricks).

In India these are known as Fly ash bricks, manufactured using the Falg process. []

Influence on fired colour

The fired colour of clay bricks is influenced by the chemical and mineral content of raw materials, the firing temperature and the atmosphere in the kiln. For example pink coloured bricks are the result of a high iron content, white or yellow bricks have a higher lime content. Most bricks burn to various red hues, if the temperature is increased the colour moves through dark red, purple and then to brown or grey at around 1,300 °C (2,372 °F). Calcium silicate bricks have a wider range of shades and colours, depending on the colourants used. The names of bricks may reflect their origin and colour, such as London Red and Cambridgeshire White.

Bricks formed from concrete are usually termed blocks, and are typically pale grey in colour. They are made from a dry, small aggregate concrete which is formed in steel moulds by vibration and compaction in either an "egglayer" or static machine. The finished blocks are cured rather than fired using low-pressure steam. Concrete blocks are manufactured in a much wider range of shapes and sizes than clay bricks and are also available with a wider range of face treatments - a number of which are to simulate the appearance of clay bricks.

An impervious and ornamental surface may be laid on brick either by salt glazing, in which salt is added during the burning process, or by the use of a "slip," which is a glaze material into which the bricks are dipped. Subsequent reheating in the kiln fuses the slip into a glazed surface integral with the brick base.

Natural stone bricks are of limited modern utility, due to their enormous comparative mass, the consequent foundation needs, and the time-consuming and skilled labour needed in their construction and laying. They are very durable and considered more handsome than clay bricks by some. Only a few stones are suitable for bricks. Common materials are granite, limestone and sandstone. Other stones may be used (e.g. marble, slate, quartzite, etc.) but these tend to be limited to a particular locality.

Optimal dimensions, characteristics, and strength

Loose bricks

For efficient handling and laying bricks must be small enough and light enough to be picked up by the bricklayer using one hand (leaving the other hand free for the trowel). Bricks are usually laid flat and as a result the effective limit on the width of a brick is set by the distance which can conveniently be spanned between the thumb and fingers of one hand, normally about four inches (about 100 mm). In most cases, the length of a brick is about twice its width, about eight inches (about 200 mm) or slightly more. This allows bricks to be laid bonded in a structure to increase its stability and strength (for an example of this, see the illustration of bricks laid in English bond, at the head of this article). The wall is built using alternating courses of stretchers, bricks laid longways and headers, bricks laid crossways. The headers tie the wall together over its width.

A bigger brick makes for a thicker (and thus more insulating) wall. Historically, this meant that bigger bricks were necessary in colder climates (see for instance the slightly larger size of the Russian brick in table below), while a smaller brick was adequate, and more economical, in warmer regions. A notable illustration of this correlation is the Green Gate in Gdansk; built in 1571 of imported Dutch brick, too small for the colder climate of Gdansk, it was notorious for being a chilly and drafty residence. Nowadays this is no longer an issue, as modern walls typically incorporate specialized insulation materials.

The correct brick for a job can be picked from a choice of colour, surface texture, density, weight, absorption and pore structure, thermal characteristics, thermal and moisture movement, and fire resistance.

Face brick ("house brick") sizes,[12] from small to large
Standard Imperial Metric
Template:INDIA 9 × 4¼ × 2¾ inches 228 × 107 × 69 mm
 United States 8 × 4 × 2¼ inches 203 × 102 × 57 mm
 United Kingdom 8½ × 4 × 2½ inches 215 × 102.5 × 65 mm
 South Africa 8¾ × 4 × 3 inches 222 × 106 × 73 mm
 Australia 9 × 4⅓ × 3 inches 230 × 110 × 76 mm
 Russia 250 × 120 × 65 mm

In England, the length and the width of the common brick has remained fairly constant over the centuries, but the depth has varied from about two inches (about 51 mm) or smaller in earlier times to about two and a half inches (about 64 mm) more recently. In the United States, modern bricks are usually about 8 × 4 × 2.25 inches (203 × 102 × 57 mm). In the United Kingdom, the usual ("work") size of a modern brick is 215 × 102.5 × 65 mm (about 8.5 × 4 × 2.5 inches), which, with a nominal 10 mm mortar joint, forms a "coordinating" or fitted size of 225 × 112.5 × 75 mm, for a ratio of 6:3:2.

Some brickmakers create innovative sizes and shapes for bricks used for plastering (and therefore not visible) where their inherent mechanical properties are more important than the visual ones.[13] These bricks are usually slightly larger, but not as large as blocks and offer the following advantages:

  • a slightly larger brick requires less mortar and handling (fewer bricks) which reduces cost
  • ribbed exterior aids plastering
  • more complex interior cavities allow improved insulation, while maintaining strength.

Blocks have a much greater range of sizes. Standard coordinating sizes in length and height (in mm) include 400×200, 450×150, 450×200, 450×225, 450×300, 600×150, 600×200, and 600×225; depths (work size, mm) include 60, 75, 90, 100, 115, 140, 150, 190, 200, 225, and 250. They are usable across this range as they are lighter than clay bricks. The density of solid clay bricks is around 2,000 kg/m³: this is reduced by frogging, hollow bricks, etc.; but aerated autoclaved concrete, even as a solid brick, can have densities in the range of 450–850 kg/m³.

Bricks may also be classified as solid (less than 25% perforations by volume, although the brick may be "frogged," having indentations on one of the longer faces), perforated (containing a pattern of small holes through the brick removing no more than 25% of the volume), cellular (containing a pattern of holes removing more than 20% of the volume, but closed on one face), or hollow (containing a pattern of large holes removing more than 25% of the brick's volume). Blocks may be solid, cellular or hollow

The term "melfrog" for the indentation on one bed of the brick is a word that often excites curiosity as to its origin. The most likely explanation is that brickmakers also call the block that is placed in the mould to form the indentation a frog. Modern brickmakers usually use plastic frogs but in the past they were made of wood. When these are wet and have clay on them they resemble the amphibious kind of frog and this is where they got their name. Over time this term also came to refer to the indentation left by them.[Matthews 2006]

Vault of Roman Bath in Bath - England
A brick section of the old Dixie Highway, United States

The compressive strength of bricks produced in the United States ranges from about 1000 lbf/in² to 15,000 lbf/in² (7 to 105 MPa or N/mm² ), varying according to the use to which the brick are to be put. In England clay bricks can have strengths of up to 100 MPa, although a common house brick is likely to show a range of 20–40 MPa.


Bricks are used for building and pavement. In the USA, brick pavement was found incapable of withstanding heavy traffic, but it is coming back into use as a method of traffic calming or as a decorative surface in pedestrian precincts. For example, in the early 1900s, most of the streets in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan were paved with brick. Today, there are only about 20 blocks of brick paved streets remaining (totalling less than 0.5 percent of all the streets in the city limits).[14]

Bricks are also used in the metallurgy and glass industries for lining furnaces. They have various uses, especially refractory bricks such as silica, magnesia, chamotte and neutral (chromomagnesite) refractory bricks. This type of brick must have good thermal shock resistance, refractoriness under load, high melting point, and satisfactory porosity. There is a large refractory brick industry, especially in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States.

In the United Kingdom, bricks have been used in construction for centuries. Until recently, almost all houses were built almost entirely from bricks. Although many houses in the UK are now built using a mixture of concrete blocks and other materials, many houses are skinned with a layer of bricks on the outside for aesthetic appeal.

In the UK a redbrick university is one founded and built in the Victorian era, often as a technical college. The term is used as differentiation from older, more classics-oriented universities.


See also



  • Aragus, Philippe (2003) (in French), Brique et architecture dans l'Espagne médiévale, Bibliothèque de la Casa de Velazquez, 2, Madrid 
  • Badstübner, E; Schumann, D, eds. (since 1997) (in German), Studien zur Backsteinarchitektur, 7, Berlin 
  • Brook, Timothy (1998), The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-22154-0 
  • Campbell, James W.; Pryce, Will, photographer (2003), Brick: a World History,, London & New York: Thames & Hudson 
  • Coomands, Thomas, ed. (2008), "Novii Monasterii, 7", Medieval Brick Architecture in Flanders and Northern Europe, Koksijde: Ten Duinen 
  • Cramer, J.; Sack, D., eds. (since 2004) (in German), Berliner Beiträge zur Bauforschung und Denkmalpflege, 5, Petersberg 
  • Kornmann, M. (2007), Clay Bricks and Roof Tiles, Manufacturing and Properties, Paris: Lasim, ISBN 2-9517765-6-X 
  • Plumbridge, Andrew; Meulenkamp, Wim (2000), Brickwork. Architecture and Design, London: Seven Dials, ISBN 1-84188-039-6 

Further reading

  • Dobson, E. A. (1850) (2 pt.). Rudimentary Treatise on the Manufacture of Bricks and Tiles. London: John Weale. 
  • Hudson, Kenneth (1972) Building Materials; chap. 3: Bricks and tiles. London: Longman; pp. 28-42
  • Lloyd, N. (1925) History of English Brickwork. London: H. Greville Montgomery 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Brick is a 2005 film about Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a loner who seeks for the answers behind the death of his ex-girlfriend. Heavily inspired by such works as The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson
A detective story.


Brendan Frye

  • I've got knives in my eyes, I'm going home sick.
  • Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you.
  • Which wall's the door in?
  • You set that poor kid up! You held Dode like a card 'till you could play him.
  • Maybe I'll just sit here and bleed at you.
  • [in flashback] You're the only thing I love!
  • I'm looking to find this big game the Pin's played, not to gum it, but just so when its tail jams in my back I'll know who to bill for the embalming.

The Pin

  • Let's take you back upstairs. Back with the living.
  • Where you were at, with all of us and the Tug a fist away, you've got to use your nut. Allay the situation. So, yeah, you're not scared of me, I got it, but I'm also thinking you're a little nuts now, so you've got that trade off with your standing. But nuts isn't all bad, so maybe it was a good play. I don't know.


  • Laura Dannon: Fearless flyer.
  • Kara: Make sure you wanna know what you wanna know.
  • Kara: Still wish you knew what you wanted to know?


Dode: I know what you did. I was in the tunnel. I saw you hide her.
Brendan Frye: Dode?
Dode: Anyone I tell, it would ruin you some way. And I'm going to tell someone.
Brendan Frye: Are you making an offer?
Dode: Maybe. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just do you in.
Brendan Frye: Hire another hash head to blade me?
Dode: Don't need no blade, Shamus. I just gotta squawk.
Brendan Frye: What do you want?
Dode: Just to see you sweat.

Brendan: No. And no more of these informal chats. If you have a disciplinary issue with me, write me up or suspend me and I'll see you at the Parent-Teacher conference.
Assistant VP Trueman: Hold it, I could - hold it - could write you up for talking back to a VP. For looking at me in a threatening way. I'd exercise a little more tact, Mr. Frye. You can't pull a play like that unless I need you for something. So do I?
Brendan: Maybe.
Assitant VP Trueman: So maybe you're gonna need me too.
Brendan: Maybe. Alright, I need you off my back completely for a few weeks. There might be some heat soon.
Assitant VP Trueman: If it's something I can't cover, I won't go to bat for you.
Brendan: If I get caught like that it's curtains anyway - I couldn't have brass cutting me favors in public. I'm just saying now so you don't come kicking in my homeroom door once trouble starts.
Assitant VP Trueman: Okay, here's what I can do. I won't pin you for anything you aren't caught at. I'll ride it a little while, as long as it doesn't get too rough. But if anything comes up with your fingerprints on it, I can't help you. Also, if I get to the end of whatever this is and it gets hot and you don't deliver, The Veep will need someone to hand over, police- wise. And I'll have you. There better be some meat at the end of this like you say, or at least a fall guy

Brad Bramish: Hey! What are you doing here?
Brendan Frye: Just listening.
[long pause]
Brendan Frye: All right, you got me. I'm a scout for the Gophers. Been watching your game for a month, but that story right there just clenched it. You got heart kid. How soon can you be in Minneapolis?
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Cold winters, but they got a great transit system.
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Yeah.
Brad Bramish: Oh, yeah?
Brendan Frye: There's a thesaurus in the library. Yeah is under "Y". Go ahead, I'll wait.
Brad Bramish: You know, who invited you?
Brendan Frye: To the parking lot? Gee, I guess I invited myself.
Brad Bramish: Maybe you want to go somewhere more private?
Brendan Frye: [Coyly] With you? Sure.

Brendan Frye: Still picking your teeth with freshmen?
Kara: Well, you were a freshman once.
Brendan Frye: Way once, sister. You and Em were tight for a bit. Who's she eating with now?
Kara: Eating with?
Brendan Frye: Eating with. Lunch. Who.

Assistant V.P. Trueman: You've helped this office out before.
Brendan Frye: No, I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.
Assistant V.P. Trueman: Fine. Very well put.
Brendan Frye: Accelerated English, Mrs. Kasprzyk.
Assistant V.P. Trueman: Tough teacher.
Brendan Frye: Tough, but fair.

Brendan Frye: Why are you telling me all this? What's your play?"
Laura : You think nobody sees you. Eating lunch behind the portables. Loving some girl like she's all there is, anywhere, to you. I've always seen you. Or maybe I liked Emily. Maybe I see what you're trying to do for her, trying to help her, and I don't know anybody who would do that for me.
Brendan Frye: Now you are dangerous.

Brendan Frye: Your muscle seemed plenty cool putting his fist in my head. I want him out.
The Pin: Looky, soldier...
Brendan Frye: The ape blows or I clam.
Tug: So, clam! What've you got that I can't beat out of you back in the basement?
The Pin: Give us a few minutes, Tug. I'll call you if whatever.

Brendan Frye: Emily said four words I didn't know. Tell me if they catch. Brick?
The Brain: No.
Brendan Frye: Or Bad Brick?
The Brain: Nope.
Brendan Frye: Tug?
The Brain: Tug? Tug might be a drink, like milk and vodka, or something.
Brendan Frye: Poor Frisco?
The Brain: Frisco? Frisco Farr was a sophomore last year, real trash. Maybe hit a class a week, I didn't know him then, haven't seen him around.
Brendan Frye: Pin?
The Brain: Pin. The Pin?
Brendan Frye: The Pin, yeah?
The Brain: The Pin is kinda a local spook story, yeah know the King Pin.
Brendan Frye: Yeah, I've heard it.
The Brain: Same thing, he's supposed to be old, like 26. Lives in town.
Brendan Frye: Dope runner, right?
The Brain: Big time. See the Pin pipes it from the lowest scraper for Brad Bramish to sell, maybe. Ask any dope rat where their junk sprang and they'll say they scraped it from that, who scored it from this, who bought it off so, and after four or five connections the list always ends with The Pin. But I bet you, if you got every rat in town together and said "Show your hands" if any of them've actually seen The Pin, you'd get a crowd of full pockets.
Brendan Frye: You think The Pin's just a tale to take whatever heat?
The Brain: Hmm... So what's first?
Brendan Frye: Show of hands.

Brendan Frye: Brain, I can't let her go. I was set to but I can't. I don't think I can.
The Brain: You think you can help her?
Brendan Frye: No.
The Brain: You think you can get the straight, maybe break some deserving teeth?
Brendan Frye: Yeah. I think I could.
The Brain: Well.
Brendan Frye: Kara tried to rope me. She came right out and asked. She was scared. Tell me to walk from this, Brain. Tell me to drop it.
The Brain: Walk from it. Drop it. But you're thick, Brendan.
Brendan Frye: Yes, I am.

Laura Dannon: Do you trust me now?
Brendan Frye: Less than when I didn't trust you before.

Laura: [On the phone] Who is this?
Brendan Frye: I won't waste your time: you don't know me.
Laura: I know everyone, and I have all the time in the world.
Brendan Frye: Ah, the folly of youth.

Emily: Brendan, I know you're mad at these people because you think I went away from you and went to them but, you need to start seeing it as my decision. Stop getting angry because where I want to be at, is different from where you want to be at.
Brendan Frye: Who fed you that line, Em?
Emily: Stop picking on Dode. He's a good guy.
Brendan Frye: The pie house rat?
Emily: He's a good friend.
Brendan Frye: So, what am I?
Emily: Yeah, I mean what are you? Just sitting back here, hating everyone? Who are you to judge anyone? God, I really loved you a lot. I couldn't stand it. I had to get with people. I couldn't have a life with you anymore.

The Pin: You read Tolkien?
Brendan Frye: What?
The Pin: You know, the Hobbit books?
Brendan Frye: Yeah.
The Pin: His descriptions of things are really good. He makes you wanna be there.

Laura Dannon: I wanna help you.
Brendan Frye: Go away.
Brendan Frye: Look, I can't trust you. You ought to be smart enough to know that. I didn't shake up the party to get your attention, and I'm not heeling you too hook you. Your connections could help me, but the bad baggage they bring could make it zero sum game or even hurt me. Better coming at it clean.

The Brain: What did she whisper to you?
Brendan Frye: She called me a dirty word.
The Brain: All right, you don't have to tell me.

[first lines]
[Brendan answers the pay phone]
Emily: Brendan.
Brendan Frye: Emily.
Emily: Yeah-h... How's things?
Brendan Frye: Status quo.

Brendan Frye: You got a cigarette?
Tug: I don't smoke.
Brendan Frye: I've seen you smoke.
Tug: I don't smoke cigarettes.

Brendan Frye: You gotta come back to me, Em.
Emily: No!
Brendan Frye: You're in a spot but I can get you out of it, if you just come back to me.
Emily: No you're not hearing me! I don't want to be put away and protected.
Brendan Frye: Whatever befalls you I'll deal with. Just tell me about the trouble with the brick, the pin.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BRICK (derived according to some etymologists from the Teutonic bricke, a disk or plate; but more authoritatively, through the French brique, originally a "broken piece," applied especially to bread, and so to clay, from the Teutonic brikan, to break), a kind of artificial stone generally made of burnt clay, and largely used as a building material.

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The art of making bricks dates from very early times, and was practised by all the civilized nations of antiquity. The earliest burnt bricks known are those found on the sites of the ancient cities of Babylonia, and it seems probable that the method of making strong and durable bricks, by burning blocks of dried clay, was discovered in this corner of Asia. We know at least that well-burnt bricks were made by the Babylonians more than 6000 years ago, and that they were extensively used in the time of Sargon of Akkad (c. 3800 B.C.). The site of the ancient city of Babylon is still marked by huge mounds of bricks, the ruins of its great walls, towers and palaces, although it has been the custom for centuries to carry away from these heaps the bricks required for the building of the modern towns in the surrounding country. The Babylonians and Assyrians attained to a high degree of proficiency in brickmaking, notably in the manufacture of bricks having a coating of coloured glaze or enamel, which they largely used for wall decoration. The Chinese claim great antiquity for their clay industries, but it is not improbable that the knowledge of brickmaking travelled eastwards from Babylonia across the whole of Asia. It is believed that the art of making glazed bricks, so highly developed afterwards by the Chinese, found its way across Asia from the west, through Persia and northern India, to China. The great wall of China was constructed partly of brick, both burnt and unburnt; but this was built at a comparatively late period (c. 210 B.C.), and there is nothing to show that the Chinese had any knowledge of burnt bricks when the art flourished in Babylonia.

Brickmaking formed the chief occupation of the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt, but in this case the bricks were probably sun-dried only, and not burnt. These bricks were made of a mixture of clay and chopped straw or reeds, worked into a stiff paste with water. The clay was the river mud from the banks of the Nile, and as this had not sufficient cohesion in itself, the chopped straw (or reeds) was added as a binding material. The addition of such substances increases the plasticity of wet clay, especially if the mixture is allowed to stand for some days before use; so that the action of the chopped straw was twofold; a fact possibly known to the Egyptians. These sun-dried bricks, or "adobes," are still made, as of old, on the banks of the Nile by the following method: - A shallow pit or bed is prepared, into which are thrown the mud, chopped straw and water in suitable proportions, and the whole mass is tramped on until it is thoroughly mixed and of the proper consistence. This mixture is removed in lumps and shaped into bricks, in moulds or by hand, the bricks being simply sun-dried.

Pliny mentions that three kinds of bricks were made by the Greeks, but there is no indication that they were used to any great extent, and probably the walls of Athens on the side towards Mount Hymettus were the most important brick-structures in ancient Greece. The Romans became masters of the brickmaker's art, though they probably acquired much of their knowledge in the East, during their occupation of Egypt and Greece. In any case they revived and extended the manufacture of bricks about the beginning of the Christian era; exercising great care in the selection and preparation of their clay, and introducing the method of burning bricks in kilns. They carried their knowledge and their methods throughout western Europe, and there is abundant evidence that they made bricks extensively in Germany and in Britain.

Although brickmaking was thus introduced into Britain nearly 2000 years ago, the art seems to have been lost when the Romans withdrew from the country, and it is doubtful whether any burnt bricks were made in England from that time until the 13th century. Such bricks as were used during this long period were generally taken from the remains of Roman buildings, as at Colchester and St Albans Abbey. One of the earliest existing brick buildings, erected after the revival of brickmaking in England, is Little Wenham Hall, in Suffolk, built about A. D. 1210; but it was not until the 15th century that bricks came into general use again, and then only for important edifices. During the reign of Henry VIII. brickmaking was brought to great perfection, probably by workmen brought from Flanders, and the older portions of St James's Palace and Hampton Court Palace remain to testify to the skill then attained. In the 16th century bricks were increasingly used, but down to the Great Fire of London, in 1666, the smaller buildings, shops and dwellinghouses, were constructed of timber framework filled in with lath and plaster. In the rebuilding of London after the fire, bricks were largely used, and from the end of the 17th century to the present day they have been almost exclusively used in all ordinary buildings throughout the country, except in those districts where building stone is plentiful and good brick-clay is not readily procurable. The bricks made in England before 1625 were of many sizes, there being no recognized standard; but in that year the sizes were regulated by statute, and the present standard size was adopted, viz. 9 X41 X3 in. In 1784 a tax was levied on bricks, which was not repealed until 1850. The tax averaged about 4s. 7d. per thousand on ordinary bricks, and special bricks were still more heavily taxed.

The first brick buildings in America were erected on Manhattan Island in the year 1633 by a governor of the Dutch West India Company. These bricks were made in Holland, where the industry had long reached great excellence; and for many years bricks were imported into America from Holland and from England. In America burnt bricks were first made at New Haven about 1650, and the manufacture slowly spread through the New England states; but for many years the homemade article was inferior to that imported from Europe.

The Dutch and the Germans were the great brickmakers of Europe during the middle ages, although the Italians, from the 14th to the 15th century, revived and developed the art of decorative brick-work or terra-cotta, and discovered the method of applying coloured enamels to these materials. Under the Della Robbias, in the 15th century, some of the finest work of this class that the world has seen was executed, but it can scarcely be included under brickwork.

Brick Clays

All clays are the result of the denudation and decomposition of felspathic and siliceous rocks, and consist of the fine insoluble particles which have been carried in suspension in water and deposited in geologic basins according to their specific gravity and degree of fineness (see Clay). These deposits have been formed in all geologic epochs from the "Recent" to the "Cambrian," and they vary in hardness from the soft and plastic "alluvial" clays to the hard and rock-like shales and slates of the older formations. The alluvial and drift clays (which were alone used for brickmaking until modern times) are found near the surface, are readily worked and require little preparation, whereas the older sedimentary deposits are often difficult to work and necessitate the use of heavy machinery. These older shales, or rocky clays, may be brought into plastic condition by long weathering (i.e. by exposure to rain, frost and sun) or by crushing and grinding in water, and they then resemble ordinary alluvial clays in every respect.

The clays or earths from which burnt bricks are made may be divided into two principal types, according to chemical composition: (1) Clays or shales containing only a small percentage of carbonate of lime and consisting chiefly of hydrated aluminium silicates (the "true clay substance") with more or less sand, undecomposed grains of felspar, and oxide or carbonate of iron; these clays usually burn to a buff, salmon or red colour; (2) Clays containing a considerable percentage of carbonate of lime in addition to the substances above mentioned. These latter clay deposits are known as "marls," 1 and may contain as much 1 The term "marl" has been wrongly applied to many fire-clays. It should be restricted to natural mixtures of clay and chalk such as those of the Paris and London basins.

as 40% of chalk. They burn to a sulphur-yellow colour which is quite distinctive.

Brick clays o class (I) are very widely distributed, and have a more extensive geological range than the marls, which are found in connexion with chalk or limestone formations only. These ordinary brick clays vary considerably in composition, and many clays, as they are found in nature, are unsuitable for brickmaking without the addition of some other kind of clay or sand. The strongest brick clays, i.e. those possessing the greatest plasticity and tensile strength, are usually those which contain the highest percentage of the hydrated aluminium silicates, although the exact relation of plasticity to chemical composition has not yet been determined. This statement cannot be applied indiscriminately to all clays, but may be taken as fairly applicable to clays of one general type '(see' Clay). All clays contain more or less free silica in the form of sand, and usually a small percentage of undecomposed felspar. The most important ingredient, after the clay-substance and the sand, is oxide of iron; for the colour, and, to a less extent, the hardness and durability of the burnt bricks depend on its presence. The amount of oxide of iron in these clays varies from about 2 to 10%, and the colour of the bricks varies accordingly from light buff to chocolate; although the colour developed by a given percentage of oxide of iron is influenced by the other substances present and also by the method of firing. A clay containing from 5 to 8% of oxide of iron will, under ordinary conditions of firing, produce a red brick; but if the clay contains 3 to 4% of alkalis, or the brick is fired too hard, the colour will be darker and more purple. The actions of the alkalis and of increased temperature are probably closely related, for in either case the clay is brought nearer to its fusion point, and ferruginous clays generally become darker in colour as they approach to fusion. Alumina acts in the opposite direction, an excess of this compound tending to make the colour lighter and brighter. It is impossible to give a typical composition for such clays, as the percentages of the different constituents vary through such wide ranges. The clay substance may vary from 15 to 80%, the free silica or sand from 5 to 80%, the oxide of iron from 1 to io%, the carbonates of lime and magnesia together, from 1 to 5%, and the alkalis from 1 to 4%. Organic matter is always present, and other impurities which frequently occur are the sulphates of lime and magnesia, the chlorides and nitrates of soda and potash, and iron-pyrites. The presence of organic matter gives the wet clay a greater plasticity, probably because it forms a kind of mucilage which adds a certain viscosity and adhesiveness to the natural plasticity of the clay. In some of the coalmeasure shales the amount of organic matter is very considerable, and may render the clay useless for brickmaking. The other impurities, all of which, except the pyrites, are soluble in water, are undesirable, as they give rise to "scum," which produces patchy colour and pitted faces on the bricks. The commonest soluble impurity is calcium sulphate, which produces a whitish scum on the face of the brick in drying, and as the scum becomes permanently fixed in burning, such bricks are of little use except for common work. This question of "scumming" is very important to the maker of high-class facing and moulded bricks, and where a clay containing calcium sulphate must be used, a certain percentage of barium carbonate is nowadays added to the wet clay. By this means the calcium sulphate is converted into calcium carbonate which is insoluble in water, so that it remains distributed throughout the mass of the brick instead of being deposited on the surface. The presence of magnesium salts is also very objectionable, as these generally remain in the burnt brick as magnesium sulphate, which gives rise to an efflorescence of fine white crystals after the bricks are built into position. Clays which are strong or plastic are known as "fat" clays, and they always contain a high percentage of true "clay substance," and, consequently, a low percentage of sand. Such clays take up a considerable amount of water in "tempering"; they dry slowly, shrink greatly, and so become liable to lose their shape and develop cracks in drying and firing. "Fat" clays are greatly improved by the addition of coarse sharp sand, which reduces the time of drying and the shrinkage, and makes the brick more rigid during the firing. Coarse sand, unlike _ clay-substance, is practically unaffected during the drying and firing, and is a desirable if not a necessary ingredient of all brick clays. The best brick-clays feel gritty between the fingers; they should, of course, be free from pebbles, sufficiently plastic to be moulded into shape and strong enough when dry to be safely handled. All clays are greatly improved by being turned over and exposed to the weather, or by standing for some months in a wet condition. This "weathering" and "ageing" of clay is particularly important where bricks are made from tempered clay, i.e. clay in the wet or plastic state; where bricks are made from shale, in the semi-plastic condition, weathering is still of importance.

The lime clays or "marls" of class (2), which contain essentially a high percentage of chalk or limestone, are not so widely distributed as the ordinary brick-clays, and in England the natural deposits of these clays have been largely exhausted. A very fine chalk-clay, or "maim" as it was locally called, was formerly obtained from the alluvium in the vicinity of London; but the available supply of this has been used up, and at the present time an artificial "maim" is prepared by mixing an ordinary brick-clay with ground chalk. For the best London facing-bricks the clay and chalk are mixed in water. The chalk is ground on grinding-pans, and the clay is mixed with water and worked about until the mixture has the consistence of cream. The mixture of these "pulps" is run through a grating or coarse sieve on to a drying-kiln or "bed," where it is allowed to stand until stiff enough to walk on. A layer of fine ashes is then spread over the clay, and the mass is turned over and mixed by spade, and tempered by the addition of water. In other districts, where clays containing limestone are used, the marl is mixed with water on a wash-pan and the resulting creamy fluid passed through coarse sieves on to a drying-bed. If necessary, coarse sand is added to the clay in the wash-pan, and such addition is often advisable because the washed clays are generally very fine in grain. Another method of treating these marls, when they are in the plastic condition, is to squeeze them by machinery through iron gratings, which arrest and remove the pebbles. In other cases the marl is passed through a grinding-mill having a solid bottom and heavy iron rollers, by which means the limestone pebbles are crushed sufficiently and mixed through the whole mass. The removal of limestone pebbles from the clay is of great importance, as during the firing they would be converted into quicklime, which has a tendency to shatter the brick on exposure to the weather. As before stated, these marls (which usually contain from z 5 to 30% of calcium carbonate) burn to a yellow colour which is quite distinctive, although in some cases, where the percentage of limestone is very high, over 40%, the colour is grey or a very pale buff. The action of lime in bleaching the ferric oxide and producing a yellow instead of a red brick, has not been thoroughly investigated, but it seems probable that some compound is produced, between the lime and the oxide of iron, or between these two oxides and the free silica, entirely different from that produced by oxide of iron in the absence of lime. Such marls require a harder fire than the ordinary brick-clays in order to bring about the reaction between the lime and the other ingredients. Magnesia may replace lime to some extent in such marls, but the firing temperature must be higher when magnesia is present. Marls usually contract very little, if at all, in the burning, and generally produce a strong, square brick of fine texture and good colour. When under-fired, marl bricks are very liable to disintegrate under the action of the weather, and great care must be exercised in burning them at a sufficiently high temperature.


Bricks made of tempered clay may be made by hand or by machine, and the machines may be worked by hand or by mechanical power. Bricks made of semi-plastic clay (i.e. ground clay or shale sufficiently damp to adhere under pressure) are generally machine-made throughout. The method of making bricks by hand is the same, with slight variation, the world over. The tempered clay is pressed by hand into a wooden or metal mould or four-sided case (without top or bottom) which is of the desired shape and size, allowance being made for the shrinkage of the brick in drying and firing. The moulder stands at the bench or table, dips the mould in water, or water and then sand, to prevent the clay from sticking, takes a rudely shaped piece of clay from an assistant, and dashes this into the mould which rests on the moulding bench. He then presses the clay into the corners of the mould with his fingers, scrapes off any surplus clay and levels the top by means of a strip of wood called a "strike," and then turns the brick out of the mould on to a board, to be carried away by another assistant to the drying-ground. The mould may be placed on a special piece of wood, called the stock-board, provided with an elevated tongue of wood in the centre, which produces the hollow or "frog" in the bottom of the brick.

Machine-made bricks may be divided into two kinds, plastic and semi-plastic, although the same type of machine is often used for both kinds.

The machine-made plastic bricks are made of tempered clay, but generally the tempering and working of the clay are effected by the use of machinery, especially when the harder clays and shales are used. The machines used in the preparation of such clays are grinding-mills and pug-mills. The grinding-mills are either a series of rollers with graduated spaces between, through which the clay or shale is passed, or are of the ordinary "mortar pan" type, having a solid or perforated iron bottom on which the clay or shale is crushed by heavy rollers. Shales are sometimes passed through a grinding-mill before they are exposed to the action of the weather, as the disintegration of the hard lumps of shale greatly accelerates the "weathering." In the case of ordinary brick-clay, in the plastic condition, grinding-mills are only used when pebbles more than a quarter of an inch in diameter are present, as otherwise the clay may be passed directly through the pug-mill, a process which may be repeated if necessary. The pug-mill consists of a box or trough having a feed hole at one end and a delivery hole or nose at the other end, and provided with a central shaft which carries knives and cutters so arranged that when the shaft revolves they cut and knead the clay, and at the same time force it towards and through the delivery nose. The cross section of this nose of the pug-mill is approximately the same as that of the required brick (9 in. X 41 in. plus contraction, for ordinary bricks), so that the pug delivers a solid or continuous mass of clay from which bricks may be made by merely making a series of square cuts at the proper distances apart. In practice, the clay is pushed from the pug along a smooth iron plate, which is provided with a wire cutting frame having a number of tightly stretched wires placed at certain distances apart, arranged so that they can be brought down upon, and through, the clay, and so many bricks cut off at intervals. The frame is sometimes in the form of a skeleton cylinder, the wires being arranged radially (or the wires may be replaced by metal disks); but in all cases bricks thus made are known as "wire-cuts." In order to obtain a bettershaped and more compact brick, these wire-cuts may be placed under a brick press and there squeezed into iron moulds under great pressure. These two processes are now generally performed by one machine, consisting of pug-mill and brick press combined. The pug delivers the clay, downwards, into the mould; the proper amount of clay is cut off; and the mould is made to travel into position under the ram of the press, which squeezes the clay into a solid mass.

There are many forms of brick press, a few for hand power, but the most adapted for belt-driving; although in recent years hydraulic presses have come more and more into use, especially in Germany and America. The essential parts of a brick press are: (I) a box or frame in which the clay is moulded; (2) a plunger or die carried on the end of a ram, which gives the necessary pressure; (3) an arrangement for pushing the pressed brick out of the moulding box. Such presses are generally made of iron throughout, although other metals are used, occasionally, for the moulds and dies. The greatest variations found in brick presses are in the means adopted for actuating the ram; and many ingenious mechanical devices have been applied to this end, each claiming some particular advantage over its predecessors. In many recent presses, especially where semiplastic clay is used, the brick is pressed simultaneously from top and bottom, a second ram, working upwards from beneath, giving the additional pressure.

Although the best bricks are still pressed from tempered or plastic clay, there has recently been a great development in the manufacture of semi-plastic or dust-made bricks, especially in those districts where shales are used for brickmaking. These semi-plastic bricks are stamped out of ground shale that has been sufficiently moistened with water to enable it to bind together. The hard-clay, or shale, is crushed under heavy rollers in an iron grinding-pan having a perforated bottom through which the crushed clay passes, when sufficiently fine, into a small compartment underneath. This clay powder is then delivered, by an elevator, into a sieve or screen, which retains the coarser particles for regrinding. Sets of rollers may also be used for crushing shales that are only moderately hard, the ground material being sifted as before. The material, as fed into the mould of the press, is a coarse, damp powder which becomes adhesive under pressure, producing a so-called "semi-plastic" brick. The presses used are similar to those employed for plastic clay, but they are generally more strongly and heavily built, and are capable of applying a greater pressure.

The semi-plastic method has many advantages where shales are used, although the bricks are not as strong nor as perfect as the best "plastic" bricks. The method, however, enables the brickmaker to make use of certain kinds of clay-rock, or shale, that would be impracticable for plastic bricks; and the weathering, tempering and "ageing" may be largely or entirely dispensed with. The plant required is heavier and more costly, but the brickyard becomes more compact, and the processes are simpler than with the "plastic" method.

The drying of bricks, which was formerly done in the open, is now, in most cases, conducted in a special shed heated by flues along which the heated gases from the kilns pass on their way to the chimney. It is important that the atmosphere of the drying-shed should be fairly dry, to which end suitable means of ventilation must be arranged (by fans or otherwise). If the atmosphere is too moist the surface of the brick remains damp for a considerable time, and the moisture from the interior passes to the surface as water, carrying with it the soluble salts, which are deposited on the surface as the water slowly evaporates. This deposit produces the "scum" already referred to. When the drying is done in a dry atmosphere the surface quickly dries and hardens, and the moisture from the interior passes to the surface as vapour, the soluble salts being left distributed through the whole mass, and consequently no "scum" is produced. Plastic bricks take much longer to dry than semi-plastic; they shrink more and have a greater tendency to warp or twist.

The burning or firing of bricks is the most important factor in their production; for their strength and durability depend very largely on the character and degree of the firing to which they have been subjected. The action of the heat brings about certain chemical decompositions and re-combinations which entirely alter the physical character of the dry clay. It is important, therefore, that the firing should be carefully conducted and that it should be under proper control. For ordinary bricks the firing atmosphere should be oxidizing, and the finishing temperature should be adjusted to the nature of the clay, the object being to produce a hard strong brick, of good shape, that will not be too porous and will withstand the action of frost. The finishing temperature ranges from 900° C. to 1250° C., the usual temperature being about 1050° C. for ordinary bricks. As before mentioned, lime-clays require a higher firing temperature (usually about 1150° C. to 1200° C.) in order to bring the lime into chemical combination with the other substances present.

It is evident that the best method of firing bricks is to place them in permanent kilns, but although such kilns were used by the Romans some 2000 years ago, the older method of firing in "clamps" is still employed in the smaller brickfields, in every country where bricks are made. These clamps are formed by arranging the unfired bricks in a series of rows or walls, placed fairly closely together, so as to form a rectangular stack. A certain number of channels, or firemouths, are formed in the bottom of the clamp; and fine coal is spread in horizontal layers between the bricks during the building up of the stack. Fires are kindled in the fire-mouths, and the clamp is allowed to go on burning until the fuel is consumed throughout. The clamp is then allowed to cool, after which it is taken down, and the bricks sorted; those that are under-fired being built up again in the next clamp for refiring. Sometimes the clamp takes the form of a temporary kiln, the outside being built of burnt bricks which are plastered over with clay, and the fire-mouths being larger and more carefully formed. There are many other local modifications in the manner of building up the clamps, all with the object of producing a large percentage of well-fired bricks. Clamp-firing is slow, and also uneconomical, because irregular and not sufficiently under control; and it is now only employed where bricks are made on a small scale.

Brick-kilns are of many forms, but they can all be grouped under two main types - Intermittent kilns and Continuous kilns. The intermittent kiln is usually circular in plan, being in the form of a vertical cylinder with a domed top. It consists of a single firingchamber in which the unfired bricks are placed, and in the walls of which are contrived a number of fire-mouths where wood or coal is burned. In the older forms known as up-draught kilns, the products of combustion pass from the fire-mouth, through flues, into the bottom of the firing-chamber, and thence directly upwards and out at the top. The modern plan is to introduce the products of combustion near the top, or crown, of the kiln, and to draw them downwards through holes in the bottom which lead to flues connected with an independent chimney. These down-draught kilns have short chimneys or "bags" built round the inside wall in connexion with the fire-mouths, which conduct the flames to the upper part of the firing-chamber, where they are reverberated and passed down through the bricks in obedience to the pull of the chimney. The "bags" may be joined together, forming an inner circular wall entirely round the firing-chamber, except at the doorway; and a number of kilns may be built in a row or group having their bottom flues connected with the same tall chimney. Down-draught kilns usually give a more regular fire and a higher percentage of well-fired bricks; and they are more economical in fuel consumption than up-draught kilns, while the hot gases, as they pass from the kiln, may be utilized for drying purposes, being conducted through flues under the floor of the drying-shed, on their way to the chimney. The method of using one tall chimney to work a group of down-draught kilns naturally led to the invention of the "continuous" kiln, which is really made up of a number of separate kilns or firing-chambers, built in series and connected up to the main flue of the chimney in such a manner that the products of combustion from one kiln may be made to pass through a number of other kilns before entering the flue. The earliest form of continuous kiln was invented by Friedrich Hoffman, and all kilns of this type are built on the Hoffman principle, although there are a great number of modifications of the original Hoffman construction. The great principle of "continuous" firing is the utilization of the waste heat from one kiln or section of a kiln in heating up another kiln or section, direct firing being applied only to finish the burning. In practice a number of kilns or firingchambers, usually rectangular in plan, are built side by side in two parallel lines, which are connected at the ends by other kilns so as to make a complete circuit. The original form of the complete series was elliptical in plan, but the tendency in recent years has been to flatten the sides of the ellipse and bring them together, thus giving two parallel rows joined at the ends by a chamber or passage at right angles. Coal or gas is burnt in the chamber or section that is being fired-up, the air necessary for the combustion being heated on its passage through the kilns that are cooling down, and the products of combustion, before entering the chimney flue, are drawn through a number of other kilns or chambers containing unfired bricks, which are thus gradually heated up by the otherwise waste-heat from the sections being fired. Continuous kilns produce a more evenly fired product than the intermittent kilns usually do, and, of course, at much less cost for fuel. Gas firing is now being extensively applied to continuous kilns, natural gas in some instances being used in the United States of America; and the methods of construction and of firing are carried out with greater care and intelligence, the prime objects being economy of fuel and perfect control of firing. Pyrometers are coming into use for the control of the firing temperature, with the result that a constant and trustworthy product is turned out. The introduction of machinery greatly helped the brickmaking industry in opening up new sources of supply of raw material in the shales and hardened clays of the sedimentary deposits of the older geologic formations, and, with the extended use of continuous firing plants, it has led to the establishment of large concerns where everything is co-ordinated for the production of enormous quantities of bricks at a minimum cost. In the United Kingdom, and still more in Germany and the United States of America, great improvements have been made in machinery, firing-plant and organization, so that the whole manufacture is now being conducted on more scientific lines, to the great advantage of the industry.

Blue Brick is a very strong vitreous brick of dark, slaty-blue colour, used in engineering works where great strength or impermeability is desirable. These bricks are made of clay containing from 7 to 10% of oxide of iron, and their manufacture is carried out in the ordinary way until the later stages of the firing process, when they are subjected to the strongly reducing action of a smoky atmosphere, which is produced by throwing small bituminous coal upon the fire-mouths and damping down the admission of air. The smoke thus produced reduces the red ferric oxide to blue-green ferrous oxide, or to metallic iron, which combines with the silica present to form a fusible ferrous silicate. This fusible "slag" partly combines with the other silicates present, and partly fills up the pores, and so produces a vitreous impermeable layer varying in thickness according to the duration and character of the smoking, the finishing temperature of the kiln and the texture of the brick. Particles of carbon penetrate the surface during the early stages of the smoking, and a small quantity of carbon probably enters into combination, tending to produce a harder surface and darker colour.

Floating Bricks were first mentioned by Strabo, the Greek geographer, and afterwards by Pliny as being made at Pitane in the Troad. The secret of their manufacture was lost for many centuries, but was rediscovered in 1791 by Fabroni, an Italian, who made them from the fossil meal (diatomaceous earth) found in Tuscany. These bricks are very light, fairly strong, and being poor conductors of heat, have been employed for the construction of powder-magazines on board ship, &c.

Mortar Bricks belong to the class of unburnt bricks, and are, strictly speaking, blocks of artificial stone made in brick moulds. These bricks have been made for many years by moulding a mixture of sand and slaked lime and allowing the blocks thus made to harden in the air. This hardening is brought about partly by evaporation of the water, but chiefly by the conversion of the calcium hydrate, or slaked lime, into calcium carbonate by the action of the carbonic acid in the atmosphere. A small proportion of the lime enters into combination with the silica and water present to form hydrated calcium silicate, and probably a little hydrated basic carbonate of lime is also formed, both of which substances are in the nature of cement. This process of natural hardening by exposure to the air was a very long one, occupying from six to eighteen months, and many improvements were introduced during the latter half of the 19th century to improve the strength of the bricks and to hasten the hardening.

Mixtures of sand, lime and cement (and of certain ground blastfurnace slags and lime) were introduced; the moulding was done under hydraulic presses and the bricks afterwards treated with carbon dioxide under pressure, with or without the application of mild heat. Some of these mixtures and methods are still in use, but a new type of mortar brick has come into use during recent years which has practically superseded the old mortar brick.

Sand-lime Bricks. the early 'eighties of the 19th century, Dr Michaelis of Berlin patented a new process for hardening blocks made of a mixture of sand and lime by treating them with highpressure steam for a few hours, and the so-called sand-lime bricks are now made on a very extensive scale in many countries. There are many differences of detail in the manufacture, but the general method is in all cases the same. Dry sand is intimately mixed with about one-tenth of its weight of powdered slaked lime, the mixture is then slightly moistened with water and afterwards moulded into bricks under powerful presses, capable of exerting a pressure of about 60 tons per sq. in. After removal from the press the bricks are immediately placed in huge steel cylinders usually 60 to 80 ft. long and about 7 ft. in diameter, and are there subjected to the action of high-pressure steam (120 lb to 150 lb per sq. in.) for from ten to fifteen hours. The proportion of slaked lime to sand varies according to the nature of the lime and the purity and character of the sand, one of lime to ten of sand being a fair average. The following is an analysis of a typical German sand-lime brick: silica (S102), 84%; lime (CaO), 7%; alumina and oxide of iron, 2%; water, magnesia and alkalis, 7%. Under the action of the high-pressure steam the lime attacks the particles of sand, and a chemical compound of water, lime and silica is produced which forms a strong bond between the larger particles of sand. This bond of hydrated calcium silicate is evidently different from, and of better type than, the filling of calcium carbonate produced in the mortar-brick, and the sand-lime brick is consequently much stronger than the ordinary mortar-brick, however the latter may be made. The sand-lime brick is simple in manufacture, and with reasonable care is of constant quality. It is usually of a light-grey colour, but may be stained by the addition of suitable colouring oxides or pigments unaffected by lime and the conditions of manufacture.

Strength of Brick

The following figures indicate the crushing load for bricks of various types in tons per sq. in.: Common hand-made .

0.9 „


London stock .

0.7 „


Staffordshire blue



Sand-lime. .

. ,,

2.9 „


See also BRICKWORK. (J. B.*; W. B.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Brick




Recorded since 1416, from Old French briche, probably from a Germanic source akin to Middle Dutch bricke "a tile", literally "a broken piece", from the verbal root of break




countable and uncountable; plural bricks

brick (countable and uncountable; plural bricks)

  1. (countable) A hardened rectangular block of mud, clay etc., used for building.
    This wall is made of bricks.
  2. (uncountable) Considered collectively, as a building material.
    This house is made of brick.
  3. (countable) Something shaped like a brick.
    a plastic explosive brick
  4. (informal) A helpful and reliable person
    Thanks for helping me wash the car. You're a brick.
    • 1863, Elizabeth Caroline Grey, Good Society; Or, Contrasts of Character[1], page 72:
      “It's easy to see you're a brick!” replied Lady Augusta, and the laugh again became general.
    • 1906, Edith Nesbit, The Railway Children[2], page 168:
      ‘Somebody had to stay with you,’ said Bobbie.
      ‘Tell you what, Bobbie,’ said Jim, ‘you’re a brick. Shake.’
    • 1960, W.W. Jacobs, Cargoes[3], ISBN 0828314306, page 45:
      “Well, I’ll do what I can for you,” said the seaman, …“If you were only shorter, I'd lend you some clothes.”
      “You're a brick,” said the soldier gratefully.
  5. (basketball) A shot which misses, particularly one which bounces directly out of the basket because of a too-flat trajectory, as if the ball were a heavier object.
    We can't win if we keep throwing up bricks from three-point land.
  6. (informal) A power brick; an external power supply consisting of a small box with an integral male power plug and an attached electric cord terminating in another power plug.
  7. (technology, slang) An electronic device, especially a heavy box-shaped one, that has become non-functional or obsolete.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


A brick wall

brick (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Made of brick(s).
    All that was left after the fire was the brick chimney.

Derived terms



to brick

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to brick (third-person singular simple present bricks, present participle bricking, simple past and past participle bricked)

  1. To build with bricks.
    • 1904, Thomas Hansom Cockin, An Elementary Class-Book of Practical Coal-Mining, C. Lockwood and Son, page 78
      If the ground is strong right up to the surface, a few yards are usually sunk and bricked before the engines and pit top are erected
    • 1914, The Mining Engineer, Institution of Mining Engineers, page 349
      The shaft was next bricked between the decks until the top scaffold was supported by the brickwork and [made] to share the weight with the prids.
  2. To make into bricks.
    • 1904 September 15, James C. Bennett, Walter Renton Ingalls (editor), Lead Smelting and Refining with Some Notes on Lead Mining (1906), The Engineering and Mining Journal, page 66
      The plant, which is here described, for bricking fine ores and flue dust, was designed and the plans produced in the engineering department of the Selby smelter.
  3. (slang) To hit someone using a brick.
  4. (computing slang) To make an electronic device nonfunctional and usually beyond repair, essentially making it no more useful than a brick.
    My VCR was bricked during the lightning storm.
    • 2007 December 14, Joe Barr, “PacketProtector turns SOHO router into security powerhouse”,
      installing third-party firmware will void your warranty, and it is possible that you may brick your router.
  5. (regional slang) To be in a high state of anxiety: "Bricking it"

Derived terms


See also

External links



From English brig.



brick m. (plural bricks)

  1. (nautical) A brig, a two-masted vessel type.
  2. A fritter with a filling.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|A wall made from bricks]] A brick is a man-made building material used to make walls and make places to walk.

Bricks are made of clay. Bricks are either formed into molds or cut with wires, and then baked in an oven. The color of a brick depends on the color of the clay from which it was made.

Masons build brick walls. They join bricks together using mortar.

Bricks can be assembled into many different patterns. The most common pattern is called "running bond". A row of bricks is called a course. A wall that is just one brick thick has one wythe.

Bricks used outdoors on the ground are called "pavers".


The oldest shaped bricks found date back to 7,500 B.C. They have been found in Çayönü, a place located in the upper Tigris area in south east Anatolia close to Diyarbakir. Newer bricks, dated between 7,000 and 6,395 B.C., come from Jericho and Catal Hüyük. The inven­tion of the fired brick (as opposed to the consid­erably earlier sun-dried mud brick) is believed to have arisen in about the third millennium BC in the Middle East. Fired bricks were much more resistant to cold and moist weather conditions. Fired bricks enabled the construction of permanent buildings in regions where the harsher climate precluded the use of mud bricks.

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