California brick

Metallic Brick Company


In 1916, Morris Marks started the Metallic Brick Company, with office and yard at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Monterey Pass Road, 10 miles east of Los Angeles. Morris Marks was born in Russia about 1860 and came to the United States in 1883 with his wife Sarah. They had nine children. They first settled in Missouri for a couple of years and then went to Canada, where they remained for 16 years. In 1902, they came to Los Angeles, California, where Morris found employment at a brickyard. In 1916, he formed his own brick company and made his son, William Marks, the manager of the brick company.

This company owned 90 acres of land at the east end of a low range of hills. The Monterey shale was mined for clay. From a pit, the shale was put into a small bucket elevator using a shovel. It was elevated to a mixer. Sand molded brick was made using an Arnold Creager brick machine. The bricks were air-dried and burned in an open kiln, using crude oil for fuel. The plant employed a few men and production was small. William L. Mulford was the superintendent.

The Metallic Brick Company closed its brickyard in 1920. What became of Morris Marks is unknown. In 1930, his wife Sarah was living with her son Joshua in Los Angeles, and William Marks was a real estate investor in San Gabriel.

Metallic Brick

Common brick is orange-red, somewhat mottled in color. Sides and ends have a water-struck smoothness. Round red clumps of clay up to 1/4 inch across and minor irregular white feldspar up to 1/8 inch across can be seen on the surface and in the interior clay body. Thin lip 1/8 inch thick around the top edges. Top face is highly pitted with deep pits up to 1/2 inch across and a longitudinal strike with brush-like striations. Edges are straight and sharp but chipped, corners are often rounded. Bottom face displays a beveled rectangular frog 1/4 inch deep, 6 3/4 inches long and 1 7/8 inches wide centered on the face. Inside the frog are raised block letters "METALLIC" spanning 6 inches and 1 inch high. This sample was made by a water-struck, soft-mud process, although there may have been sand-struck bricks made as well. Length 8 1/2, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/8 inches.

Metallic brick
Bottom face of the Metallic brick showing the raised brand name in a frog. Donated by Ron Rose.

Metallic brick
Side view of the Metallic brick showing the mottled, rounded clay clumps.

Metallic brick
Top face of the Metallic brick showing the longitudinal strike and highly pitted surface.

Metallic brick
End view of the Metallic brick.


Boalich, E.S., Castello, W.O., Huguenin, Emile, Logan, C.A., and Tucker, W. Burling, The Clay Industry In California, California State Mining Bureau Preliminary Report 7, 1920.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 49, no. 12, p. 1111.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1916-1920.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

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