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Machinemade bricks are harder and heavier than handmades, and the surface is often smooth and shiny, although this is not alway the case. The machinemade bricks are most commonly also known as `Wire-cuts` because a lot of them have fine, close lines scored along both wide faces which are from where they were made: A wire much like a cheese wire was used to cut the clay from the top and bottom of a brick mould, see below for a few machinemades. Note: not all machinemade bricks have this it is only one, albeit common, method that was used.
Reclaimed bricks are usually divided simply into two kinds, Handmade and Machinemade. They are also available in many colours; you can buy red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, brown, white, and black bricks in both hand and machine made, although by far the most common are Reds and Oranges, and every imaginable shade in between the two.
The handmade bricks are more expensive and are typically older and with much more character to them, they have a rough-textured surface and are lighter and softer than machinemade bricks. There are myriad descriptions of a handmade brick, the common ones are Soft reds/Soft oranges (the common colours of course), crease faced bricks, red rubbers (so called because the softness of the surface allows a pattern to be `rubbed` in using a hand file or special tool, popular in the Victorian era but now almost obsolete)
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The biggest challenge when buying or selling bricks is matching them up to existing work, if you are building extensions or adjoining walls of any kind, or if you just want to keep the new building in keeping with the appearance and atmosphere of structures already in place what you must do, if possible, is get a sample or 2 from the existing brickwork and bring it in to our yard and match it up to our stock.
Another speciality brick that we always try to stock is the `Tudor brick`, these are thinner than normal at 2" to 2.25" thick, and are usually used to build fireplaces. They are not usually quite as old as the tudor period, but are amongst the oldest bricks available, usually 100-200 years old or even more.
There are various other brick types that are fairly commonly known, although are used far less often due to the area they come from or simply their cost and speciality of application. For example, you can get some Machinemade bricks known as 18-Hole Bridgewaters
There are many ways to distinguish Handmades from Machinemades, and it is a case of seeing and knowing straight away to the expert eye, the most common mistake that people make is that any brick with a `frog` is a machinemade. The frog is the indentation found in most bricks, often in the shape of an elongated pyramid inverted in the top of the brick, in other words `cut-out` of the brick.
Which are very hard and have 18 holes in them much like the common engineering brick.
The brief recent history of bricks in the UK explains the most common problem we face with using them:
Before industrialisation really took hold in this country, every town in every part of the UK would have had their own brickworks, or brickmaker.
In the mid-victorian era when some of these brickmakers became more strongly established using the new machines they had access to, some became the major supplier of bricks and indeed tiles in their area, and many of them continue today, or were at least making bricks in the same style until the mid 20th Century.
The problem is now this: all these brickmakers, successful or not, made different bricks.
The various areas of the UK offer different types of clay in any case, but within these areas different methods were used, and different people approached those methods in their own way,