Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Works advertisement.
From Architect and Engineer, 1911.
Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Works, South San Francisco, CA, with
stacks of clay sewer pipe in the yard. From Aubrey, 1906.
The cupola of the Burlingame City Hall was preserved along with Steiger bricks in a parking lot in Burlingame.
Steiger firebrick is pinkish buff, tan, or yellow with smooth faces and sides. Top face is pitted and displays
longitudinal and curved wire cut grooves. Sides are smooth with fine transverse striations and a crackled surface.
Edges and corners are dull, but may have been originally sharp. Visible clasts include subangular white quartz up
to 1/8 inch across and round reddish brown iron grains up to 1/8 inch across. The brand name "STEIGER" is recessed
in block letters within a shallow rectangular frog. One sample has a screw impression centered at each end of the
frog, but outside of the frog. Name spans 4 1/2 inches in length and is 11/16 inch high, centered inside the frog.
The frog is rectangular with beveled sides 1/8 inch deep, 5 to 5 3/16 inches long and 1 1/8 inches high.
Stiff-mud extruded process, wire-cut, and represssed. Length 8 3/4 to 9, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches.
Pluto firebrick ranges from white to tan with smooth faces and sides. Some may display an orange flash on the sides. The surface usually shows crackles or cracks. The edges originally were sharp or nearly so and the corners are dull. The marked face contains a shallow rectangular frog 4 1/4 inches long, 1 1/8 inches wide, and 1/16 inch deep. Inside the frog are recessed block serif letters spelling "PLUTO", which spans 3 5/8 inches in length and 15/16 inch in height. The top face may show faint transverse grooves and conveyor imprints of a series of parallel short dashes 3/16 inch apart, which are distinctive in Steiger bricks. The interior clay body reveals a granular texture with about 10 to 20 percent clasts of subangular white quartz, subangular to subrounded brown iron, subrounded yellow clay, all up to 1/8 inch across. In the white firebrick, the clasts range up to 1/2 inch in size and also include subangular granitic rocks and crushed red brick. The clay body shows a faint lamination on the faces of the brick. The Pluto brand was introduced in 1905 and made by the soft-mud, pressed process. Length 8 3/4, width 4 1/8 - 4 3/8, height 2 1/2 - 2 5/8 inches.
Pluto arch firebrick is white with smooth surfaces that display large clasts and crackles or cracks. The clasts constitutes about 30 percent of the clay body and include subangular white and pink quartz, subrounded white clay or altered feldspar, subrounded to subangular crushed red brick, all up to 1/4 inch across. The interior clay body is granular with a faint lamination seen on the faces of the brick. The marked face has a shallow rectangular frog 4 inches long and 1 inch wide with recessed block serif letters spelling "PLUTO", which spans 3 5/8 inches in length and 7/8 inch in height. The Pluto brand was introduced in 1905 and was made by the soft-mud pressed process. Length 8 5/8, width 4 1/4, arch heights 1 3/8 - 2 1/4 inches.
Pluto-2 arch firebrick is orange-tan with a smooth, cracked surface, specked with brown iron spots. The marked face has a shallow rectangular frog 5 inches long, 1 1/8 inches wide, and 1/32 inch deep. The name "PLUTO-2" is recessed in block serif letters that span 4 1/2 inches in length, 15/16 inch in height. The number "2" is 1/2 inch in height. The top face displays faint transverse grooves and conveyor imprints of a series of parallel short dashes 3/16 inch apart, which are distinctive in Steiger bricks. The interior clay body is granular with laminations seen on the faces. The clasts constitutes 45 percent of the body and includes subrounded white quartz and yellow clay up to 1/8 inch across. Rounded brown iron spots can get up to 1/4 inch across. The Pluto brand was introduced in 1905 and made by the soft-mud pressed process. Length 9 1/8, width 4 5/8, arch heights 2 3/8 - 2 inches.
Steiger acid brick is pale red with sand-struck sides. Minor tiny angular quartz and cream feldspars are visible
on the surface. The top face has longitudinal striations and stack indentations.
The bottom face is impressed with the company abbreviations in block letters as STC&PWKS on the first line and
396 beneath it on the second line. The mark is slightly off centered and crooked. The first line spans 3 7/8 inches
in length and is 1/2 inch high. The second line spans 1 1/2 inches in length and is 3/4 inch high. Soft-mud process.
Length 8 1/8, width 3 5/8, height 1 15/16 inches.
Steiger red pressed brick is orange red with smooth sides and numerous small pits on the surface. Minor tiny angular
white quartz up to 1/8 inch across are visible. The sides show a couple of stack identations. One face has longitudinal
dashed imprints that might be from the conveyor belt. The other face is marked with a shallow rectangular frog that
contains the company abbreviations recessed in block letters as "S.T.C.&P.WKS." on the first line and "S.F. CAL."
beneath it on the second line. The first line spans 4 3/8 inches in length and is 1/2 inch high. The second line spans
2 3/4 inches in length and is 3/8 inch high. The frog is 4 3/4 inches long, 1 1/8 inches high, and 1/16 inch deep.
Angled wire-cut marks show as short grooves on the faces. Extruded stiff-mud process, wire cut face, and repressed.
Length 8 5/8, width 4 1/4, height 2 3/8 inches.
Steiger circle brick is pale orange-red with sand-struck sides. The sides are pitted and the faces show fine longitudinal
striations. The edges and corners are dull. The interior is granular with subrounded red grains up to 1/16 inch across.
One of the faces is impressed with the company abbreviations in recessed block letters as S.T.C.&P.WKS. and off centered.
The name spans 3 3/8 inches in length and is 7/16 inch high. The long convex side is 8 1/2 inches long, the long concave
side is 7 1/2 inches long. The width and height of the brick is 3 inches. This brick is hard and compact, probably formed
by the soft-mud process in a mold.
Steiger variegated salmon face brick ranges from tan to dark salmon with mottled gradations of the two colors on a single
brick. There are large black round iron spots up to 1/2 across constituting 15 percent. The sides are smooth with
transverse striations. Some sides may display a faint ruffle texture, indicating side cut bricks. The edges and corners
are sharp when not broken. The faces are smooth. The example shown was made in 1911 for the Girls High School, now
Benjamin Franklin Middle School at Geary and Scott streets, San Francisco. Extruded stiff-mud process, probably side
cut. Length 8 3/8 - 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 1/4 inches.
Steiger tan face brick is uniform in color peppered with tiny browm iron spots. The sides are smooth. The edges and
corners are sharp when not broken. The faces are smooth. The example shown was made in 1914 for the Commodore Stockton
School, now Oriental Public School, on Washington Street, San Francisco. Extruded stiff-mud process, probably repressed.
Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 1/4 inches.
Alexander, Philip W., and Ham, Charles P., History of San Mateo County, Burlingame, CA, 1916, p. 198-200.
Architect and Engineer, May 1911, p. 15.
Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 23, no. 5, 1905, p. 162.
Davis, Fenelon F., Mines and Mineral Resources of San Mateo County, California, California State Mining Bureau, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 51, no. 4, 1955, p. 401-458.
Federal Census Records, 1870.
Foote, H.S., Pen Pictures from the Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1888.
Gazette Times, October 13, 1894, p. 3.
Gazette Times, July 13, 1895, p. 3.
Huguenin, E., and Castello, W.O., San Mateo County, California State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1921, p. 167-179.
Malone, Patrice, written communication on Steiger fire brick, 2004.
Psota, Sunshine, written communications on Pluto firebrick, 2010.
Salata, James, San Jose brick collection.
San Jose City Directories, 1871-1993.
Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Map of South San Francisco, Nov. 1910, sheet 10.
Tucker, W.B., The Counties of Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne, California State Mining Bureau 14th Report of the State Mineralogist, for the Biennial Period 1913-1914, Part 1, 1916, p. 1-172.
Comments or questions are welcomed.
Please send email to Dan Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org.