Antique Brick Identification Chart & Price Guide (2023)

I am sure none of you thinks of bricks as an investment. People just pile up old bricks and use them for repairs. But do you know you can get up to $200 – 300 for an old brick? That’s true! In fact, I have also seen some vintage bricks sell for $800. Crazy, isn’t it?

That’s why I think antique lovers must know the material, brand, and traits of old bricks. After all, these features raise the resale value! But how do you know which features are precious and which are not? That’s where our identification charts will help you! So, let’s learn more!

Key Takeaways

  • Antique bricks are large – about 8 X 4 inches- with prism-like lips, moldings, and coarse texture. In fact, most of the texture comes from natural additives like bone, straw, and lime.
  • You can date antique bricks by their date stamps and logos. If not, check their firing. Usually, sun-dried bricks are old.
  • Get handmade clay, straw, or gravel bricks for the best value. Also, check if they are reclaimed or branded!
  • Federal styled – Baroque or Victorian bricks cost more than $70 today! But if you want minimal ones, check the styles below!

What Features Make a Brick Old & Antique?

Antique Brick

Not every old, handmade brick is antique! So first, just get a measuring tape and check the brick’s dimensions. They’ll be antique only if they are 8 -10 inches long and 4 – 5 inches wide. Also, see if they have angular notches and curved edges.

Got those? Now, let’s look for these features below:

  • Uneven or coarse texture with hand-beaten lips at the edges
  • Terracotta moldings and glazings on the upper face
  • Mixed clay or terracotta core with a ceramic or enamel coat on top
  • Yellowish patina or a white mortar residue at the sides
  • Non-planar surfaces and non-aligned corners from the hand molding process

Who Made the First Antique Brick & How Did They Evolve?

Although the Mesopotamians made the first brick 6000 years ago, people used them only during the Egyptian period. And that too for religious temples and ziggurats! Well, the hand molding and drying process was tricky, so bricks took time. But not for long!

Fast forward to the Roman era when people cooked bricks in kilns and furnaces. So, these were fast to make, durable, and efficient. And now, people used them everywhere – baths, castles, and canals. But there was a problem; these weren’t pressed, crumbling easily!

So, for the next few years, people used stone for major work and bricks for petty jobs. Plus, they didn’t know how to seal the mortar and joints properly. So, brickwork was crude and unappealing!

But, the Industrial Revolution solved all these problems. Like, people now had pliers, wire cutters, and glazing kilns. So they could press bricks and burn them properly. And makers also added some central dents to hide the mortar. So, now bricks have become common and cheaper.

3 Important Types of Antique Bricks & Their Values

As we saw above, people did many experiments to shape bricks and raise their durability. So, each of these led to different types, processes, and values as below:

1. Sun-Dried Bricks

Sun-Dried Bricks

If your brick looks yellowish and has deformed edges and corners, it might be sun-dried! Such bricks are very old, roughly 5000 years old, and don’t have any marks, stamps, or frogs. But, what you can find is a central gravel or straw filling, costing $20 – 600.

2. Pressed Bricks

Pressed bricks are the revised, easy-to-make designs of sun dried bricks. Like, workers just had to roll clay, put it in a mold, and apply pressure. So, you can see all those pressed designs, motifs, and carvings with them. Overall, you can price one for $14 – 40.

3. WireCut Bricks or Fired Bricks

WireCut Bricks

As we all know, wire cutters weren’t there till the 1900s. So, these bricks are relatively new, with glazed and stamped faces. You’ll also see an indent to hold all the mortar. Plus, most might have logos and simple wire mesh designs, raising the cost to $10 – 60.

Last but not least, you’ll see that these bricks look red, gray, or black. That’s because makers burnt them in high-temperature mud bath kilns for more strength.

8 Easy Steps to Identify, Age & Value Your Antique Brick

Once you know your antique brick’s type and price, you can check the following details to analyze it further:

1. Antique Brick’s Age & Numbers

We now know that antique bricks were handmade and dried – with no agents. So, it’s nearly impossible to get civilization-era bricks today. Of course, you can see some in museums, but that’s a different story.

So, you start your antiques hunt from the hand-pressed 1600s models. But you won’t be able to use them anyhow. So, if you are a DIY buff, you better stick to the 1700s ones. The later 1900s ones are more finished, but don’t cost much due to the machine makes.

But how do you know which brick was made in which year? Well, one way to find that is to check its numbers, which show its alumina content. Here’s a chart:

YearAgeStamped Number (Alumina Content)Estimated Valuation
1600s420+ years10 / 12 (Sand lime bricks with less than 10% Alumina)$100 – 120
1700s320+ years20 or 40 (Medieval Pressed Bricks)$80 – 100
1900s220+ years45 – 60 ( Some bricks might have more than 45% Alumina)$20 – 100

But if your brick doesn’t have any numbers, here are more clues:

The 1600s: You’ll easily identify the 1600s bricks from their crude, hand-pressed designs, and varying thickness. In fact, if you observe, you’ll also see pieces of straw and gravel, valuing $90 – 200. Plus, they won’t have any extra coats or lacquers!

The 1700s: If your brick has a single-side frog, clean dents, and some decorative elements, it’s most likely to be a 1700s brick. Such bricks weighed about 4-5 pounds and were usually cast on top of stone or marble. So, they were a bit plain and long. 

Other than that, you’ll also see thin enameled or glazed finishes, costing $60 – 120.

The 1800s or 1900s: The 1800s or 1900s models are pretty new! So, you’ll see all those machine finishes, straight angles, and edges on these bricks. Plus, there may be enamel or molded finishes. So, these are a bit costly, from $12 – 100.

Observe the brick’s edges and faces carefully. Usually, bricks with small 2-3 mm lips and angular indents are old and precious.

2. Old Brick Firing Methods

Old Brick Firing Methods

Most antique bricks are sun-dried or heated. But, if your old brick shows signs of some firing techniques, like its reddish brown or black color, it might cost more. You can also check if the brick’s base has ‘Clamp kiln’ or ‘Scotch kiln’ stamps to raise its cost by 4 – 5%.

And if its sides are fired, but the inlays look soft, it might be a rare, Victorian-fired brick, costing $20 – 30.

3. Antique Brick Materials

Antique Brick Materials

You’ll see that most antique bricks have local clay or mud walls. But you can ask your dealer if he has some yellowish straw or gravel bricks from the 1700s to get good returns. You can also look for rare fly ash or fire brick from the 1900s for light, low-density bricks.

And here’s how much you can charge for some common brick materials:

Old Brick MaterialsEstimated Cost
Construction BrickSide Walk Brick
Clay, Terracotta, and Local Mud$25 – 70$11 – 55
Straw or Gravel$18 – 80N/A
Sand Lime$0.25 – 4$0.5 – 1
Fly ash or Fire Clay$20 – 60$10 – 45

Pick use, reclaimed or crease face bricks with a chipped or oxidized texture for high returns, up to $80.

4. Vintage Brick Colors

Different Colors of Vintage Brick

Every antique brick’s value changes with the minerals in its soil. And one easy way to check this is by the brick color. Usually, red or brown bricks have rich minerals, hiking their cost. In contrast, there are fewer oxides in white or yellowish bricks. So, they are relatively cheap.

Old Brick ColorsAverage Valuation
Original BrickReclaimed Brick
Red, Pink, or Orangish$15 – 50$30 – 100
Brown or Burnt Red$11 – 45$70 – 90
White or Gray$10 – 25$20 – 40
Yellow or Cream$5 – 10N.A

Avoid getting old motor, lime, or whitewashed bricks as those are new and cost less than $2.

5. Reclaimed or Not?

Reclaimed Brick

Reclaimed bricks are nothing but old bricks from cathedrals, churches, and villas. These are light, soft and have different carvings- herringbone and basket-like weaves that are rare. Plus, most of them have soft creases and double-hued bodies, costing $20 – 600.

But beware! Since people get reclaimed bricks from old, demolished structures, they might be chipped or broken. And you might even see some paint or mortar on them. So, give them a good soak and scrape them lightly with a chisel before resale.

6. Antique Brick Styles

Antique Brick Styles

If you observe some antique brick styles closely, you’ll always find something different. For example, the Gothic ones had inlays and markings, while the Renaissance ones were plain. And where the Roman bricks had squarish patterns, the Asian ones had regional details.

And all these styles obviously impact an old brick’s cost. Here’s how:

Old Brick StyleAverage Cost
Federal Styles – Victorian & Baroque$25 – 100 for normal, and up to $200 for reclaimed ones
Gothic Bricks$300 – 400 for reclaimed ones
Renaissance and Revival-style Bricks$40 – 100
Roman or Civilization style$100 – 500
Asian – Chinese or Indian$50 – 180

Look for a powdery finish and visible chisel or wood plane work to spot old bricks easily.

7. Antique Brick Brands

Vintage Red Brick

Now, let’s check your brick’s brand! For this, rotate the brick and see if it has any maker’s seals or stamps. If yes, you can use the brand’s catalog for the resale value! Many-a-times, these will also have some royal seals. So, their prices can go up to $800 if reclaimed!

Here are some popular antique brick brands for help:

Old Brick BrandManufacturing YearEstimated Price (for 8 X 4” Bricks)
Ensley Brick Company1998$100 for construction bricks & $75 for paver ones
Graves Shale Brick Company1904$12 – 70
Fiske Homes & Co1900$70 – 100
Collinwood1900s$30 – 40 for reclaimed ones

Branded bricks from the Revival era will also have triangular indents or prism-like walls with dates. This will help age your brick!

8. Antique Brick Additives

Antique bricks will never look clean and polished. In fact, if you observe them carefully, you’ll see straw, bone, lime, or any mineral traces with them. Out of these, natural additives like sand, grog, bone, lime, and straw were used with handmade bricks. So, they are a bit costly.

On the other hand, mineral pigments like iron oxide, coal, and dust were a bit new, roughly around the 1800s. And since they are machine-mixed, they don’t cost much.

Do Antique Bricks Darken With Age?

Yes, antique bricks turn a shade darker or two due to the oxidation of their chemical deposits. But they won’t turn completely black. In fact, if your brick’s completely black, it might be a low-value, burnt one.

What is the White Patina on My Antique Brick?

Don’t worry! The white patina on your antique brick is just a thin layer of salt due to the crystallization process. Wash it with water, and it’ll vanish in no time!

Can I Paint My Antique Brick?

No, don’t use any oil or water paint, as it might devalue your brick by 2 – 3%. Instead, just soak it in natural milk wash if you want to retain its shine.

So now, if you see any old brick lying in your shed, just don’t use it for repairs. Instead, check its age, material, and color. I am sure it’ll be worth more than you think! Or you can also clean it and check for its brands and logos to get good returns.

And if you want help with more home-improvement antiques like bassett furniture, handsaws, and padlocks, I’ll be happy to help!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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