Brickmarks – Possible reasons for reversed letters and misspelling.

When examining brickmarks it soon became evident that many letters were reversed. The letters ‘S’ and ‘N’ are by far the most frequent to find revered.

There could be several reasons for this including:-

1. Perhaps illiteracy of some form. This could be an issue in older bricks by many 20th century bricks also have reversed letters and I doubt if illiteracy will have been an issue in these cases.

Below – An old Greenhill brick with many issues regarding the letters!

2. Perhaps it was a gimmick, a method of trying to highlight the brick to customers – a design feature.  Many companies today misspell words, etc as an advertising ploy – eg they use a Z instead of an S.

Perhaps this is such an example – Patent Loudon & Russell Newmains and assuming the N of Newmains is also reversed that would be 7 reversed letters on this stamp – 4 x N and 3 x S

3. Perhaps someone was trying to get one back on the boss or the company for some reason and deliberately set the brick stamp up wrongly.

4. When creating a brick stamp you do so in mirror image so it may be that someone simply got mixed up when creating the stamp in the first place … Genuine mistake.

5. I was told by an ex-employee at a Scottish brickworks that often the brick making machine stamp would break and a letter would drop out of the stamp. Someone would notice this during quality control as the bricks come off the conveyor but stopping the machine was time and money so the foreman would get someone to try and replace the letter while the stamping mechanism was up in the air – between stamps – this usually meany snapping out the broken letter and shoving in a new one but because this was down at lightening speed they new letter was often placed in the wrong way round if it was they would continue the run rather than stop the machine.