History of Brick
THE OLDEST BRICKS ≈7500 BC
The earliest bricks were made from mud clay, shaped into brick and dried in the sun. Since the sun was crucial in forming the structures, the oldest bricks were found in warm climates, such as the modern Middle East and Central America.
Early civilizations such as the Ancient Greeks and Romans developed the use of fired brick, and bricks were able to be made without the heat of the sun. The Romans would store their brick for two years before selling throughout the entire country with the use of mobile kilns.
There were many different sizes and shapes produced, but they were most commonly found as round, square and oblong. The Herculaneum gate of Pompeii (below) is a famous example that is still seen today.
The art of brickmaking essentially vanished after the fall of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, except for Italy and the Bizantine Empire.
During the 12th century, bricks were reintroduced and created the Brick Gothic period in the Baltic countries. These buildings were mainly built from fired red clay bricks. Architecture had previously used many stone-carved architectural sculptures, but this was virtually impossible to create with brick at the time. Instead, they used split courses of bricks in varying colors, red bricks, glazed bricks and white lime plaster.
The introduction of brick machinery with the Industrial Revolution massively increased the production of brick. Henry Clay's 1855 patented brick making machine was capable of producing 25,000 brick per day. It was found to be a cheaper and quicker building material than stone, quickly making it the building material of choice.
In Victorian London, because of heavy fog, bright red bricks were chosen to make buildings much more visible. Although the amount of red pigment was reduced in bricks production, red remained the most desired color for the brick and still does to this day.