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Cannon and Company

Cannon letterhead


History

In 1917, the Cannon-Phillips Company purchased the property of the Sacramento Clay Products Company to manufacture face brick, firebrick, Roman brick, hollow tile, and interlocking tile. The plant was located at Ben Ali siding, 4 miles from Sacramento, near N. 13th Street and E. El Camino Avenue. Dana A. Cannon was president and John B. Phillips was vice-president of the new company. The main office was at 920 Forum Building, Sacramento. In 1920, John B. Phillips had left the partnership and Dana A. Cannon renamed his company Cannon and Company. Dana Cannon was a native of Ohio, born in 1885.

Cannon brickyard
From Cannon and Company.


Clay was obtained from Michigan Bar and on their property, 200 acres of red-burning, yellowish brown sandy clay and hardpan under a layer of red sandy loam, 15-20 feet thick. This clay was mixed with white clay from Lincoln and Ione. The equipment included scrapers, steam shovel, auger feed, 2 dry pans, bucket elevator, Hum-Mer electric screen, storage bins, pug mills, stiff-mud machines, and four gas-fired, down-draft kilns. The company employed 35-40 workers.

Known for their unique shades of smooth face orange, brown, red, and yellow brick, they were quite popular with multicolored brickwork, such as can be seen in the railroad depot of the Southern Pacific Company in Sacramento and the City Hall in Benicia. The "Italian Pink Face" brick can be seen in the California State Life Insurance Bldg. at 926 J St., Sacramento. Roman brick in variegated colors can be seen at Fremont and Newton schools in Sacramento. Their spotted gray brick face the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco. The colors of these bricks are particularly beautiful in the way they appear to glow in the sunlight, which characteristically identifies them at a distance. The brand name "CANNON" or "CANNON & CO." was stamped on one of the sides of the brick. The Company's advertisements boasted "the finest face brick made in America." Cannon also made the Denison interlocking hollow building tile, which were used in the walls of many important buildings in the Sacramento area. The Cannon hollow tile was imprinted with "CANNON LOADING BEARING" on the side of the unit.

Dana A. Cannon passed away on August 31, 1949 at the age of 64. His wife Claire L. Cannon continued to manage the company until 1956, when Mrs. Patricia C. Taylor and Mrs. Jeanne C. Lacy managed the brick works for a couple more years. In 1970, the plant site was condemned by the State.

Cannon brickyard
Cannon and Company brick plant, Sacramento. From Dietrich, 1928.

Southern Pacific Depot in Sacramento
Cannon and Company brick in the Southern Pacific Depot, Sacramento.


Cannon Bricks

Smooth Face Brick

Face brick is buff, yellow, orange, red, or spotted gray. The surface is smooth with faint transverse striations and minor grooves on the sides. Longer edges are straight and sharp. Short edges are rounded. Corners are sharp. Faces display curved wirecut marks. Some are marked on the side with the company name in recessed block letters as CANNON or CANNON & Co. using a rolling stamp, so the name may be truncated and not centered. The interior contains white subangular quartz, round brown iron oxide, and subangular red crushed brick or clay in a finely compact clay body. This brick was made using the extruded stiff-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 1/8 - 2 1/4 inches.

Southern Pacific Depot in Sacramento
Cannon and Company brick in the Southern Pacific Depot, Sacramento,
showing four shades of color.


Cannon bricks
Cannon and Company face brick in five shades of color.


Cannon bricks in the Southern Pacific Depot in Sacramento
Smooth Cannon and Company brick in the Southern Pacific Depot, Sacramento.


Cannon spotted gray face brick
View of the side of a smooth Cannon and Company spotted gray brick.

Cannon spotted gray face brick marked side
View of the side of a smooth Cannon and Company spotted gray brick displaying company name.


Cannon standard red
View of the side of a smooth Cannon and Company standard red brick.


View of the interior of the Cannon spotted gray face brick.
View of the interior of the Cannon spotted gray face brick.


Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the Cannon spotted gray face brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the Cannon
spotted gray face brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).


Rug Brick

Rug brick is buff, yellow, orange, or red, with evenly spaced transverse grooves on one side and two ends. The grooves are 1/4 inch apart with 3/8 inch margins. There are 22 grooves on the side and 11 grooves on the ends. The other side is smooth and may display the company name. The faces display faint curved wire-cut marks. This brick was made using the extruded stiff-mud process. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

Cannon rug face bricks
View of the sides of Cannon rug bricks in different colors.

Cannon rug face brick
View of the ends of Cannon rug bricks in different colors.


Ruffle Brick

Ruffle brick has been found in 8 colors ranging from violet to red to yellow. The texture has a rough surface with transverse ruffle texture on the sides. On the surface are visible clasts of white quartz, yellow clay, and red brick, as much as 1/4 inch in diameter. The faces display curved wire-cut grooves. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.

Cannon and Company ruffle brick
Cannon and Company ruffle brick.



Mat Face Brick

Cannon brick in Sacramento High School
Cannon and Company brick in the Sacramento High School, Sacramento.


Cannon brick in Sacramento High School
Textured Cannon and Company brick in the Sacramento High School, Sacramento.


Roman Brick

Roman brick is red, yellow, or peach, with a rough face texture. Pits up to 1/4 inch across, subround black iron up to 1/4 inch across, and round red cinder up to 1/4 inch across are visible on the surface. In addition to these, can be seen in the interior of the clay body round gray pebbles up to 1/2 inch across. Longitudinal grooves are prominent on the sides and ends. Some ends display angled grooves or wire-cut marks. The face of the brick was not examined. Length 11 , width 3 1/8, thickness 2 1/2 inches.

Cannon Roman brick
Cannon and Company roman brick in the wall of Fremont School, Sacramento, c. 1921.



Roman Rock Face

Roman rock face brick are found in shades of red and yellow. The sides are smooth with a protruding center of rock (broken) face texture. According to the products catalog, a blend of reds was called "Maple Rock Face." The faces are smooth and the ends display curved wire-cut grooves indicating end cuts. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 11 1/2, width 3 1/2, height 1 1/2 inches.

Cannon Roman red rock face brick
Cannon and Company Roman red rock face brick.

Cannon Roman yellow rock face brick
Cannon and Company Roman yellow rock face brick.



Norman Brick

Norman brick is red, yellow, gold, orange, and gray. The texture has a rough surface with large pits and visible rounded clasts of yellow clay, red brick, and white quartz ranging up to an inch in diameter. According to the products catalog, this texture was called "Coat of Joseph." There are strong transverse grooves on the sides. The face contains three round perforations and curved wire-cut grooves. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 11 1/2, width 3, height 2 1/2 inches.

Cannon Norman red brick
Cannon and Company Norman red brick.

Cannon Norman orange brick
Cannon and Company Norman orange brick.

Cannon Norman yellow brick
Cannon and Company Norman yellow brick.

Cannon Norman gold brick
Cannon and Company Norman gold brick.

Cannon Norman gray brick
Cannon and Company Norman gray brick.


Jumbo Brick

Jumbo brick in this example is golden tan. The texture has a rough surface with large pits and visible rounded clasts of white clay, red brick, quartz and other rocks ranging up to an inch in diameter. There are transverse grooves on the sides. The faces contain three round perforations and curved wire-cut grooves. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 11 1/2, width 3, height 3 1/2 inches.

Cannon Jumbo golden tan brick
Cannon and Company Golden Tan Jumbo.

Cannon Jumbo golden tan brick
Cannon and Company Golden Tan Jumbo.

Cannon Jumbo golden tan brick
Cannon and Company Golden Tan Jumbo.

References

Beason, Mark, written communication, 2006.

Cannon and Company, Clay Products, Catalog, Sacramento, California, no date (California Historical Society Archives).

Carlson, Denton W., Mines and Mineral Resources of Sacramento County, California, California Division of Mines, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 51, no. 2, 1955, p. 117-199.

Conover, Daryl, written communication, 2014.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 183-185.

Gurcke, Karl, Bricks and Brickmaking, University of Idaho Press, Moscow, ID, 1987.

Sacramento City Directories, 1918-1958.

Tucker, W.B., and Waring, Clarence A., The Counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report of the State Mineralogist, part 3, 1916, p. 267-459.

U.S. Bureau of Mines, Minerals Yearbook 1970, v. 2, p. 136.


Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

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Please send email to Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.