Monday, December 2, 2013

Brick Nomenclature

In the summer of 1891, Carpentry and Building magazine addressed the regional nomenclature of brick making and reported on New Orleans specifically

"Down in New Orleans where our friend Blaffer lives, the place where the water runs away from the river instead of running into it which is also the home of the 'manly art,' bricks, too, are made in very great quantities. The Blaffer Brick and Lumbering Company have a yard that is the model of neatness. This is a river yard, and the clay used by such yards is called 'batture.' It is the silt which floats down the river during high water and settles in pockets or eddies formed to catch it. When the water recedes this dries out, and is then carted outside the levees into great banks ready for use. A brick yard has been run in this same place for nearly 40 years. Each year the river is sure to rise and the silt to come down and the batture formed for another season's works. Back from the river the clay is what is called 'buckshot,' because when dug it breaks up in hard, square pieces.

"The bricks at New Orleans are graded; first as 'foundries,' which are the softest and used for lining crucibles; then the 'salmon' for chimneys. They call their best 'bench brick,'and all others 'klinkers,' which are used for foundations. On the old yards around New Orleans they use mud or tempering wheels that would be a curiosity to a Northern man. They are fully 12 feet or more in diameter, with a 6-inch broad solid tire and rim. They clay is only about 6 or 8 inches deep in the pit and is simply mashed in tempering it. The shaft on which this wheel runs has no ratchet, and the wheel is made to travel in or out by being thrown off of a center at its axes. On these yards they use three-brick molds, dumping on narrow pallets split out of hemlock. On one of these yards, run by an old French Creole, he told me that his pallets had been in use over 35 years."

Excerpt from "Nomenclature or Vernacular in Brick Making." Carpentry and Building (1 July 1891): p. 169 as viewed through ProQuest American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries, a subscription database available at Tulane University Libraries.

Image above:  Salvaged brick, recto and verso.Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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