This photo was taken in 2006 of a wall made from S & F common brick at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The bricks were made from a black sandy clay containing some mica and lignite, which was dug from pits alongside the Raritan River. Clays were chosen that were easy to mold
and would burn hard at low temperatures without warping or cracking. Common brick was used in areas where appearance was not so important, such as walls and structural work. Characteristics such as color, smoothness, and sharpness of edges were not given much attention in the production of common
brick (Ries and Kummel, 1904: 217- 218).
Front brick was made from a better grade of clay than common brick. Brickmakers looked for color uniformity, surface smoothness, and sharp edges. The clays had to burn at moderate temperatures. Some clays naturally burn red and others buff, but many times artificial coloring agents such as manganese were added. Front bricks in New Jersey were made by the dry or semi-dry process (Ries and Kummel, 1904: 221-231).
(Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Library: Sayre & Fisher, 1895)