Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Brickmaking and Brickmakers

Brick Press

Illustration of a brick-pressing machine

Brick presses, like this one manufactured in Philadelphia, allowed hand-molded brick to be pressed a second time to make a denser, more uniform block. (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress

Brick presses, like this one manufactured in Philadelphia by George Carnell of N. Fifth Street, were popular among local brickmakers. Most Philadelphia brickmakers continued to hand mold bricks through the end of the nineteenth century. The brick press, a simple machine, allowed hand-molded brick to be pressed a second time to make a denser and more uniform block. By 1850, several local yards reported having presses, and Philadelphia became the leading producer of pressed bricks, commonly used for front façades and decorative purposes.

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