California brick

J. P. Glaser


J. P. Glaser was Julius Peter Glaser, born on November 18, 1876, in San Francisco to the parents of Peter J. and Mary Glaser. His father Peter was a native of Germany, born in 1845, and immigrated to the United States in 1868. He arrived in San Francisco, California, in 1872 and set up shop as a bake oven builder. A year later, he married Mary, whose surname is unknown, and they had seven children, among which was our subject Julius Glaser.

In 1894, Julius joined his father's oven building business as a contractor and bricklayer. It wasn't until 1898, that Julius had earned the title of oven builder while working with his father at their shop at 1303 Stockton Street in San Francisco. In 1901, Julius married Marie C. Rossi, and they had six children.

The Glasers had built brick ovens in the bakeries and restaurants in San Francisco and throughout the rest of northern California over the next 60 years. The ovens were described as large and the best for firing an even temperature. One oven that they had built in Weed, California, measured 17 feet on the side. Some of these ovens are still operating in bakeries and restaurants.

The bricks from these ovens apparently were handmade by Julius Glaser, who imprinted his name on the face of each brick. These were specially made bricks for the ovens that he built. Because they are square, they may more appropriately be called refractory blocks. No description was found of how Glaser made his bricks. It is possible that he obtained the raw fire clay from one of the brick dealers in San Francisco that sold them. He very likely used his own furnace or kiln to fire the molded blocks. The exact years of when the marked bricks were made are unknown, but it may have been from as early as 1906 to as late as 1940.

The 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco had destroyed the Glaser shop on Stockton Street. Julius Glaser moved to 2072 Union Street in San Francisco, and that is where he probably continued to operate his business. What became of his father Peter after 1906 is unknown as he was no longer listed with the business nor living in San Francisco. About that time, the business was known as J. P. Glaser and Company. Exactly when Glaser ovens ceased to be made is also unknown, though it had to be prior to 1953. Julius Glaser passed away on April 18, 1953, in San Francisco, at the age of 76 years.

J. P. Glaser Block

The Glaser block is a white square refractory block with uneven, dull edges and dull corners. The surface faces are flat and smooth. Some may display cracks and pits. In some of the pits can be seen subrounded white grains of clay or altered feldspar constituting about 7 percent of the clay body. Centered across the large face is the name "J. P. GLASER" set in recessed serif-style block letters inside a tight rectangular outline of a name plate. The periods are square shaped. The letters are about 3/4 inch in height and span about 7 inches in length across the face. This block was made using the soft-mud process and hand pressed into a mold. Length 9, width 9, height 3 inches.

Glaser block
View of the marked face of a Glaser block. Photo courtesy of Taylor.


California Death Index, 1905-2000.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Parker, Jason, written communications, 2011.

Rao, Anita, North Beach Bakeries, September 14, 2006, San Francisco Tour Guide Guild, 2006 Programs, (accessed 2011).

San Francisco Call, June 19, 1901.

San Francisco Call, November 2, 1906.

San Francisco City Directories, 1871-1940.

Taylor, written communications and picture of bricks, 2011.

VanDeWalker, Gary, Rise Above, Enjoy, August 2009, (accessed 2011).

Copyright 2011 Dan Mosier

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