Stamped Clay Firebricks Found Buried in the Yard – Made in England and Scotland!

Today I was cleaning up a mound of what looked like a bunch of large basketball sized rocks, stacked against the back corner of the barn. I quickly discovered It was more than just rocks – there were bits of broken concrete; plumbing pipe; broken linoleum squares, broken clay waste pipe; sandstone rocks; bits of asphalt; metal; red clay bricks and two broken stamped clay firebricks. I knew they were fireclay bricks as they are typically a bit larger than the regular red clay bricks and usually of a tan color. One had the very clear large letters AMSA stamped onto the face. The other brick looked like it had a name stamped into the frog on the face of the brick. That evening I searched the internet and came upon Dan Mosier’s website about California Bricks. It was from his site that I was able to identify my bricks (he also confirmed by findings). One is RAMSAY and the other is BONNYBRIDGE. The interesting thing about these bricks is the RAMSAY is from England and the BONNYBRIDGE is from Scotland! So how did those bricks land in my yard? In the early days of California, around the time Napa was settled about the time of the gold rush, California didn’t have the right clay to make firebricks. This is a special type of clay that can withstand the high temperatures of the firebox. So instead of bringing fireclay bricks by wagon from the east, which would have been extremely expensive, ships from England, Scotland and Austrialia reportedly would fill their ships with fireclay bricks as ballast and import them to California. There originally was a chimney built in the interior of my house perhaps these bricks were part of that fireplace.

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