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Monthly Consular and Trade Reports · 1904
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Paper: 6 of 11

Excerpt from Monthly Consular and Trade Reports, by the United States Bureau of Manufactures, United States Bureau of Foreign Commerce (1854-1903), United States Dept. of Commerce and Labor and Bureau of Statistics, pages 213 through 231:


    On April 15, 1904, the Department of State, at the request of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, mailed a circular to the consular officers of the United States in Europe, instructing them to obtain information in regard to the manufacture of paving bricks from glass, the material used in the manufacture of such bricks, and their value for the purpose named; also whether bricks of this character are utilized for building purposes, and if so, with what success.
    The following reports are the replies to the circular, covering consular districts where the bricks are manufactured or in use. The replies for all other portions of Europe state that glass bricks are neither manufactured nor in use in the respective countries or consulates.
    Catalogues and prospectuses which accompanied many of these reports are on file in the Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor, where they may be consulted by interested persons.

(From United States Consul Thackara, Havre, France.)

    Artificial stone made from glass is manufactured in France under the Garchey patents, which are owned by the "Société Anonyme La Pierre de Verre Garchey," a limited liability corporation with a capital of $115,800, formed in 1900 for a period of ninety-nine years from January 1 of that year. Its offices are at No. 4 Rue Charras, Paris. Patents for the Garchey process have been obtained in most of the countries of Europe and their colonies, and in North and South America.
    The principal French companies which manufacture Garchey artificial stone are the "Carmausienne," with head offices at Toulouse and works at Bousquet d'Orb, in the Department of Hérault; "La Société Parisienne d'Exploitation des Procédés Ceramiques Garchey," whose offices are at Lyon and whose factories are at Creil, Department of Oise; and Demi-Lune, near Lyon, Department of Rhône. The Garchey stone is also made in Spain, Germany, and Belgium.
    Old glass obtained from broken bottles, window panes, etc., is used in the manufacture of products such as paving bricks, common tiles, etc., where uniformity of texture and color are not necessary. For the higher grades, glass is first made from sand of suitable quality, carbonate of line, sulphate of soda, and potash, the proportion being about 5 of sand, 4 of lime, and 1 of alkali. After being cooled slightly the glass is granulated by being thrown into cold water. The granules are put into refractory molds and again heated to a temperature below complete fusion until they become plastic. The molds are then withdrawn from the furnace, placed under a hydraulic press, and subjected to a pressure necessary to form the plastic material into the desired shapes. After being trimmed the molds are passed through the cooling process in ovens specially constructed for the purpose.
    In the two operations of heating and reheating the cost of coal necessary to obtain the required temperatures is one of the factors which tend to make the production of the Garchey stone expensive. I have been informed that the inventor has discovered another process for making the stone from glass is one heating, by which the cost is materially reduced.
    The Garchey company in paris claims that the cost of production under the old process varies from 86.85 cents to $1.06 the square meter (10.76 square feet), according to where it is manufactured, the cost of labor, the price of coal, etc., or an average of 96.5 cents per square meter. The company bases its claim upon the results which have been actually obtained in the Spanish, Belgian, and French factories.
    The Garchey stone is manufactured in a variety of forms for paving streets, sidewalks, and gutters and for the uses for which porcelain and other tiles are employed, as tiling the walls and floors of bathrooms, operating rooms in hospitals, waiting rooms and staircases of railroad stations, etc. As the Garchey stone has the chemical and physical qualities of glass it is not readily attacked by chemical products, so that it can be used in factories and laboratories where acids and other chemicals are employed, and being impermeable to moisture can be used in cellars and other places where there is much humidity. The stone is also molded in ornamental forms and can be made according to the drawings of architects and interior designers for decorative purposes in drawing-rooms, offices, etc. To my knowledge, the Garchey bricks are not used in the construction of buildings, owing principally to their cost in comparison with other materials.
    In the manufacturers' catalogues many shapes and style are illustrated. The following are the prices of tiles, bricks, etc., mostly used:
    Plain, smooth or fluted tiles 7.87 inches square, or 13 inches square, about three-fourths of an inch thick, used for tiling the sides of kitchens, dining rooms, corridors, bathrooms, etc., or flagging sidewalks, stables, passages, etc., 19 cents per square foot.
    Bricks, roughed or fluted, 5½ inches square, 1.57 inches thick, also 7.87 inches long, 3.54 inches wide, 1.79 inches thick, for paving purposes, 27 cents per square foot.
    For borders of sidewalks, gutters, or for staircases: Step, fluted or roughened, 19.7 inches long, 6.3 inches wide, 21.2 cents each; riser, 19.7 inches long, 7.87 inches wide, 26 cents each; bottom of gutter, same dimensions, 28.95 cents each.
    For a highly ornamented tile 19.7 inches long, 13 inches wide, 63.7 cents each.
    The bricks, squares, and tiles can be made in various colors—white, green, white and black, pink, yellow, etc.
    For large orders, or to architects and dealers, the manufacturers allow a discount of from 20 to 25 per cent from the catalogue prices. The manufacturers claim that although the first cost of the Garchey products may be higher than other materials used for the same purpose, yet, owing to their wearing qualities, they are more economical.
    The Garchey tiles are in use for tiling the walls, floor, and staircases in several of the stations of the Metropolitan Railway of Paris. In reference to the results obtained, one of the principal officers of the railway company writes me:
    Owing to the extreme hardness of these tiles (Garchey), they are not easy to cut, so it is difficult to place them in position or to redress them when they are worn. The smooth tiles become slippery, but with those that are roughened satisfactory results have been obtained. Smooth tiles are used on Line No. 1 and rough tiles on Line No. 2, the usual dimensions being 7.87 inches square and about three-fourths of an inch thick. For walls the Garchey tiles present an attractive appearance, and stand the wear and tear unusually well, but as the tiles can neither be cut nor drilled, except with great difficulty, it is not easy to hang pictures or advertisements. For the staircases it has been found that the tiles become polished rapidly, which makes them slippery when wet.
    In several of the large cities of France experiments have been made with the bricks for paving purposes. At the present time the Rues Tronchet and Crimée in Paris are paved with the Garchey bricks. In reference to the experiment being made by the city of Paris, the chief of the highway department writes me a follows:
    The Société de Pierre de Verre Garchey was authorized to make a trial of its paving bricks made from glass in the Rues Tronchet and Crimée. The foundation for the paving is composed of a layer of concrete 5.9 inches thick, made in the proportion of 551 pounds of cement, 17.7 cubic feet of sand, and 35.3 cubic feet of small stones, and a later of Portland cement 0.4 inch thick. The bricks measure 7.87 inches long, 3.74 inches wide, and 1.78 inches thick. They were laid directly on the foundation in rows perpendicular to the border, with a space between them of 0.2 inch, the space being kept by a wooden template of that thickness. The mortar used was mixed in the proportion of 1,322.8 pounds of Portland cement to 35.3 cubic feet of sand. Four days after the paving was finished the streets were open to traffic.
    Up to the present time the paving, without having given bad results, does not appear to be wearing as well as that made of natural stone. It has been noticed that alongside of the tramway rails the paving shows signs of deterioration. It is somewhat expensive to keep the streets in good repair. The thinness of the bricks renders them fragile, and being laid directly on a foundation of concrete they are more liable to break while their sonorousness is increased. It is probable, if the bricks were 4 inches thick and laid like the natural stone blocks on a foundation of sand, they would have given much better results. At the present time the city of Paris has no intention of substituting artificial paving blocks for those made of natural stone, nor in the future, unless it may be clearly demonstrated that it would be a decided economy to do so.
    To resume, the conditions of the paving in the streets above mentioned is not such as to render it necessary to stop the experiment and remove the bricks, and it would be better to await the expiration of the three years, the period required for all similar trials, to determine the exact results.
    In 1897, at the request of Mr. Garchey, the inventor of the process, tests of artificial stone, in comparison with other stones and materials used in construction, were made in the laboratory of the National School of Roads and Bridges at Paris. The main objects of the experiments were to determine the crushing strains the materials would bear and the effects of frost, concussion, and wear and tear. The results of the tests may be summed up as follows:
  1. The Garchey artificial stone resisted a pressure of 28,774 pounds per square inch, while granite only stood a pressure of 9,245 pounds per square inch.
  2. Influence of frost: The Garchey stone was immersed in refrigerating mixtures by which a temperature of 20° below zero C. was obtained without any damage to the stone. Afterwards it resisted a crushing pressure of 28,845 pounds per square inch.
  3. Wear from friction: The friction was obtained by holding the material to be tested to the face of an emery wheel at a constant pressure of 3½ pounds per square inch, the wheel revolving at the rate of 1,777 feet in one minute. The Garchey stone was classed No. 15 in a list of 27 other materials which were subjected to the same test. The wear of the Garchey stone was 0.45 inch after 4,000 revolutions of the wheel.
  4. Resistance to shock: It required on an average 22 blows of a pavior weighting 9¼ pounds falling a distance of 3.28 feet to break the Garchey stone, and 3 blows to make the first crack, while other materials ordinarily used for paving were broken in 19 blows.
    The manufacture of bricks and tiles from glass in France can not be said to have met with unqualified success. It is the opinion of several persons with whom I have conversed that this is due not to the industrial value of the products, but more to the fact that the process has not been sufficiently exploited.
A. M. THACKARA, Consul.
    HAVRE, FRANCE, September 8, 1904.

(From United States Vice and Deputy Consul Murton, Grenoble, France.)

    About a year ago paving bricks of pure crystal glass, based on scientific principles for the diffusion of natural light by radiation, made their appearance on the markets of France, and repeated tests and trials having fully demonstrated their value, they began to find favor with the general public and are being employed in increasing proportions by builders and contractors.
    In Grenoble several buildings have already been provided with them, and from personal observation they appear to answer admirably the purpose for which they are intended, namely, the better lighting of cellars, underground rooms, dark corners, etc., by the radiation of natural light.
    The following firms are engaged in the manufacture of these bricks: The Luxefer [sic—Luxfer] Prism Co., 9 Cours de la Liberté, Lyon; The St. Gobain, Chauny & Cirey Co., 9 St. Cécile, Paris, and Messrs. Palon & Royer, 76 avenue de la République, Paris.
    I inclose the prospectus of Messrs. Palon & Royer, who are the sole agents and concessionnaires of the Mombel luminous bricks, in which will be found ample details concerning the different varieties manufactured, their sizes and prices, and the application for which each kind is adapted.
T. W. MURTON, Vice and Deputy Consul.
    GRENOBLE, FRANCE, August 7, 1904.

(From United States Consul Covert, Lyon, France.)

[aRepublished from Daily Consular Reports for February 18, 1899, No. 354.]

    Early in October, 1898, a paving company of this city began laying on the rue de la République a piece of pavement of ceramo-crystal, ceramic stone, or devitrified glass. During November and December, 1898, and thus far into January, 1899, this pavement has been driven over during all hours of the day and night. It has stood as hard usage as any pavement could be subjected to during that time, and is still in an admirable state of preservation. The glass, or ceramic stone, pavement is laid in the form of blocks 8 inches square, each block containing 16 parts in the form of checkers. These blocks are so closely fitted together that water can not pass between them, and the whole pavement looks like one large checkerboard. Like all thoroughfares in France, the roadbed slopes gently to the walk on each side. Some of the edges of the checkers have been broken off during their three months' service. I counted some twenty of them that have been slightly chipped on the edges. It is contended, and I think with justice, that this does not argue against the value of the material as a pavement, and that any kind of stone would have suffered just a much or more in the same time.
    I visited the Ceramo-Crystal Manufacturing Company's works yesterday, at the suburban village of Demi-Lune, about 6 miles from Lyon. The factories cover nearly 8,000 square yards of ground. Work is now stopped in them while additions are being made to the buildings in the shape of second stories. In the yards are many tons of broken bottles, which the superintendent told me was their "raw material." On the four sides of a large brick smokestack are specimens of ceramo-crystal for buildings and interior decoration, some of the pieces as smooth as highly polished marble, others rough like cut stone, and still others having a surface like common brick.
    The advantages attributed to this ceramo-crystal by the manufacturers are: As a pavement, it has greater resistance than stone; it is a poor conductor of cold, and ice will not form upon it readily; dirt will not accumulate upon it as easily as upon stone, and it will not retain microbes; it is more durable than stone and just as cheap.
    The Central Architectural Society of France made a report recently on this ceramic stone, of which I give a brief synopsis. An officer of the society reported that he had examined a square, suitable as a pavement or floor for a stable, courtyard, or factory; a block imitating polished marble; a block imitating mosaic, and a panel with molding and ornamentation. He said:
    From the various forms in which this material is presented its use can be readily determined for both practical and decorative purposes. On careful examination it is found that the Garchey ceramic stone is nothing but glass brought to a special molecular condition. In a certain sense it constitutes a new substance which resembles flagstone, granite, or marble. The manufacturer assures us that with this material he can copy any model that is presented. The product is obtained from broken glass heated to a temperature of 1,250° and compressed in matrices by hydraulic force. The physical transformation of glass is due to devitrification under the Garchey process. The phenomenon of devitrification produces a sort of dissolution more apparent than real; for, upon chemical analysis, the devitrified glass preserves the identical composition of natural glass. It may be said, then, that devitrified glass possesses all the intrinsic qualities (physical and chemical) of glass except the transparency, while taking on an entirely different aspect. Furthermore, glass treated under this new method is made to resist crushing, frost, and heavy shocks, and to stand usage.
    The subject is being discussed in the press and is receiving general consideration. An elaborate and exhaustive article in the Revue des Deux Mondes for November treated it under the head of "A glass house," the writer asserting that a large house constructed entirely of glass would be an attractive feature of the coming world's exposition in 1900. He said that glass could be used for tubes, pipes, vats, tiles, smokestacks for factories, and for buildings. Double glass walls in a house would admit of the circulation between them of cold or warm air, thus regulating the temperature. "As to the resistance of such a structure, it would certainly be equal to that of the most solid houses of the day, * * * and it is lighter and less expensive than brick." "The Garchey glass stone had hardly come into existence before a method of using it, both simple and inexpensive, was revealed by the device of the American inventor Golding."
    The glass house, or the luminous palace, which it has been decided to build on the grounds of the 1900 exposition, parts of which are now being constructed, is thus described by the writer last quoted:
    The principle façade, in the form of an immense portico, its roof surmounted with spires and with a winged statue representing light, will be supported by heavy columns. The ground floor, reached by a double flight of stairs, will be used as a great exposition room. To the right and left will be large glass basins, overhung by grottoes of glass. In the interior of the hall will be five large openings, in which will be represented the five divisions of the globe.
    LYON, FRANCE, January 28, 1899.

(From United States Consul Van Buren, Nice, France.)

    The manufacture of glass paving bricks is not carried on in this district, and no bricks of this character are utilized for building purposes. Some years ago the municipality authorized an individual representing a manufacturer to pave with glass bricks a piece of the principal business thoroughfare, having a surface of about 1,000 square feet. It would appear that the experiment did not satisfy the authorities, for the piece of pavement was removed some months afterwards. I remember seeing the bricks laid, and it struck me that the work was being very hastily and superficially done, and I noticed shortly afterwards that the bricks had moved.
    NICE, FRANCE, May 24, 1904.

(From United States Consul-General Gowdy, Paris, France.)

    The use of glass in the manufacture of blocks has been discussed for some years, and the new glass stone made by the Garchey Company seems to be the most improved kind yet patented or invented. It is glass devitrified by a special process, and offers a resistance of about three times that of granite. The atmosphere seems to have no effect upon it. It is claimed by the makers, the Compagnie de la Pierre de Verre Garchey, 4 Rue Charras, Paris (with branch factories in England, Belgium, Germany, and Russia), that it is harder than St. Raphael porphyry, and twice as hard as Comblanchien stone. It is also said to be capable of resisting an electric current of 60,000 volts, thus making it an excellent insulator by reason of its great resistance to high electrical tensions, to crushing, and to impact.
    The process is patented, but appears to be simple, viz: The glass is devitrified, put into molds, which are placed under hydraulic pressure and the block allowed to become hard. I inclose a copy of the company's catalogue, showing sizes of blocks, shapes, combinations, etc. Mr. Cheswright, of 29 Rue Mogador, Paris, who is interested in the patent, states that he will be pleased to give information as to right of manufacture, etc., to any American firms writing to him direct.
    There is also a hollow brick made of glass by the Société de Verreries de Dorignies, Nord, France, of which I send two or three samples; also a certain catalogue marked Exhibit 2. Mr. L. Viennot, 9 Boulevard de Denain, is the agent in Paris, but it is preferable to communicate direct with the company at Dorignies, Nord, France. Their bricks are hollow, but in different shapes and combination, and are suited for the construction of party walls, conservatories, etc.
    I also inclose price list of perforated glass blocks made by Appert Frères, 34 Rue de Chasses, Clichy, Seine. These are suited for tops of windows, roofs, etc., for hospitals, barracks, factories, and kitchens.
JOHN K. GOWDY, Consul-General.
    PARIS, FRANCE, July 16, 1904.

(From United States Consul Brunot, St. Etienne, France.)

    Some years ago a plant was put up in this city for making bricks with glass as a base, but was closed in a very short time, the product finding no market. No other attempts in this department or in the others comprising this district have been undertaken. Bricks made from pure glass are almost unknown here. Some shops and hotels are furnished with floors or patches of floor made of glass, but no glass bricks are used in the streets in lieu of the ordinary stone. For building purposes no experiments have been made with such material. Glass tiles for sky and floor lights are coming into favor with architects. They are made of very transparent glass and cost 77 cents each, their usual dimensions being 16 by 10 inches. These tiles are chiefly manufactured at Passavant (Häute Sâone) and at Ecuisses (Sâone et Loire), while the glass flooring comes from St. Gobin [sic—Gobain], near Paris. The use of bricks or tiles is very limited in the district, although on the increase as compared with former years.
    ST. ETIENNE, FRANCE, May 28, 1904.

(From United States Consul-General Mason, Berlin, Germany.)


    So far as can be ascertained, no glass paving bricks proper have been made or even tested in this district under such conditions as to afford a basis for rational conclusion as to their permanence, their cost as compared with other paving material, or their general desirability for that purpose. The editor of the Glas Industrie, the central organ of the German glass and ceramic industries, states in reply to an inquiry, that Lyon, France, is the only city known to him in which glass paving bricks have been most thoroughly and systematically tested, but the exact results of such tests are unknown here. Translucent glass tiles 5 or 6 inches square by 1 inch in thickness, are used for paving walks over cellars and subterranean vaults, engine rooms, and other places where more or less light is required to pass through the pavement, but this is a branch of the subject somewhat aside from the scope of the inquiry. No official or technical experiments appear to have been made in Berlin with glass blocks for paving streets and roadways.


    There are, however, three firms in Germany, viz, the Glashüttenwerke Adlerhütten at Penzig, near Görlitz, Silesia, the Actiengesellschaft für Glasindustrie in Dresden, and Gebrüder Streit, of Berlin, whose factory is in Silesia, all of whom make bricks of glass, not for paving, but for building purposes, in which the blocks, more or less translucent, are laid up in walls like bricks of ordinary character. At the international exposition of fire-extinguishing and fire-preventing devices, held in Berlin in 1901, the second of these companies exhibited a small châlet or villa, the walls of which were built of such bricks in several shades of dark green and blue, which attracted attention as a novelty. The avowed purposes of the exhibit was to demonstrate the merits of such material for resisting fire, and in this respect the tests, so far as can be ascertained, resulted satisfactorily.
    Messrs. Streit manufacture in two shades— white and green— glass bricks which are especially adapted to the construction of walls and buildings where light, cleanliness, and neatness of appearance are specially desired. They are made in two sizes, both 2 inches thick, 2¾ inches wide, and 5 and 10 inches long, respectively, the short brick being half the length of the full-sized one. The edges are made with flanges which fit into countersunk recesses, so that the bricks may be laid, with very little cement, into air-tight and very firm, although thin, walls, and have a special fitness for many purposes, although their fire resistance is of course limited to the melting temperature of glass. They cost, by the list, 11 cents each for the large and 9 cents each for the small size, from both of which list prices there is a discount of 35 per cent for quantities exceeding 1,000.
FRANK H. MASON, Consul-General.
    BERLIN, GERMANY, August 5, 1904.

(From United States Consul-General Cole, Dresden, Germany.)

    Paving bricks from glass are manufactured by the Glashüttenwerke Adlerhütten Actiengesellschaft, at Penzig, Silesia, Germany, about one hour's ride by train from Dresden. This firm owns and works the German patent No. 91203, issued to a Louis A. Garchey, of Paris, France, on March 21, 1896, the claims of which read as follows:
  1. A process for the manufacture of objects from devitrified glass, consisting in bringing about devitrification already in the raw mass before forming the object.
  2. A mode of carrying out the process, consisting in starting the devitrification of the raw mass in a heating furnace and finishing it in a melting furnace.
    The product is known as "keramo," and is successfully used as a covering for floors of railroad stations, warehouses, engine rooms, stables, and for sidewalks, staircases, etc. It surpasses in point of hardness and wearing quality the very best Swedish granite. The bricks, or rather plates— for they average only 1 inch in thickness— are each about 8 inches square, and are laid out on cement mortar in the manner of the "Mettlacher plates." The power of resistance against pressure and frost is proved, for plates in the natural state stood a pressure of 4,050 pounds per square centimeter (0.155 square inch), and plates, after a frost test, stood a pressure of 4,060 pounds per square centimeter. Keramo plates are absolutely acid proof. In the adhesion test the resistance equaled 32 pounds per square centimeter. For tearing loose an 8-inch square plate laid out in cement a pulling force of over 12,500 pounds was required.
    The prices for 25 plates (each 8 inches square) to the the square meter, f.o.b. works, are $2.50 first quality and $1.80 for seconds. The weight of the square meter is about 100 pounds.


    The same firm manufactures glass bricks for building purposes (system "Falconnier," patented). The bricks were exhibited at the Chicago Exposition in 1893 and received first awards. I remember the glass-brick pavilion in front of the horticultural building and the interest it aroused at the time. The bricks are made of blown glass, and owing to their hollow, closed form are excellent temperature and noise insulators, and do not sweat or freeze. They are cemented together with mortar made of 3 parts sand, 1 part Portland cement, and enough white lime to render the mixture easily workable. These bricks are manufactured in various sizes, shapes, and colors, and average from 3½ to 16 cents each.
    A recent patented improvement consists in the application of a wire mantle. The price of the bricks is thereby only slightly raised, while the stability is greatly enhanced. The wire-mantled bricks are set up like ordinary bricks, with hardly any breakage.
    For ventilation of glass-brick buildings, a special ventilator is constructed, of which a number can readily be inserted in any desirable location, as they conform exactly to the shape of the bricks. These ventilator bricks are sold at 50 cents and 75 cents each, according to execution.
CHARLES L. COLE, Consul-General.
    DRESDEN, GERMANY, June 13, 1904.

(From United States Consul-General Pitcairn, Hamburg, Germany.)

    Glass bricks are not used in Hamburg for paving, but are occasionally utilized for building purposes, and with satisfactory results. In place of windows they are used to admit light in walls which, according to the police building regulations, are required to be fireproof and windowless. In addition to admitting light to dark hallways, rooms, etc., they possess the same strength as ordinary clay bricks. The hollow, so-called glass stones of the "Falconnier" system, which are made of blown glass in all colors and various shapes, are mostly used. They are also utilized in walls in yards and in partitions in the interior of houses, salesrooms, offices, workshops, etc., and for the construction of verandas, hothouses, kiosks, bathrooms, hospitals, ice factories, butcher shops, railroad stations, breweries, dairies, stables, factories, and in other localities where cleanliness, much light, and equable temperature are particularly desired. They are utilized in workshops where chemicals producing noxious vapors are manufactured or handled, and for insulating partition walls. The bricks are also manufactured with a wire coating for strictly fireproof walls.
    These bricks are manufactured in Dresden, and the "Falconnier" glass building stones are manufactured by the Glashüttenwerke Adlerhütten Actiengesellschaft, at Penzig, Silesia. No glass bricks are manufactured in this consular district. Their use is still very limited and of little importance.
HUGH PITCAIRN, Consul-General.
    HAMBURG, GERMANY, June 8, 1904.

(From United States Consul Brush, Milan, Italy.)

    The use of paving bricks made of glass in Milan is limited to cover underground passages and for floor lights. In some recently erected buildings they have been adopted for ground and upper floors on account of the light obtained. They are also coming into use for partition work in some hospitals on hygienic principles.
    These bricks, or so-called "tiles," are manufactured in Italy, but are also largely imported. Bricks made from glass for building purposes are not manufactured in this district, but I have been informed that the "Societa di S. Gobain," at Pisa, an Italian branch of the well-known French company, has experimented in them, with what success I am not in a position to say. This company manufactures the so-called "Dalles," which are also used for paving and roofing purposes.
    MILAN, ITALY, June 15, 1904.

(From United States Consul Cuneo, Turin, Italy.)

    There is a glass factory in this city making paving bricks from glass in limited quantities; enough, however, to supply the demand. An official of the plant informed me that they use the same material as in the manufacture of heavy ordinary glass. The bricks produced are dark green and are used in paving places where light is desired in basements of business houses and other buildings. They are extensively used in modern buildings.
    In one of the leading banking institutions of the city, of modern construction, the lobby office floor, which is about 36 by 58 feet, is entirely paved with glass bricks laid in iron frames for the purpose of admitting light into the basement where are numerous private boxes. The glass bricks used in this floor are light, of superior quality, imported from the La Gobain plant, France, and, I am informed, are made of material similar to that used in the production of fine plate glass. This firm has a subplant located at or near Pisa, Italy, for the superior material to be obtained in that region for the purpose.
    TURIN, ITALY, May 31, 1904.

(From United States Consul [sic] Listoe, Rotterdam, Netherlands.)

    Paving bricks are not manufactured in the Netherlands. Of glass bricks sold Huinck & Imhofe, of this city, who are the sold representatives in the Netherlands for the manufacturers, refuse to give their names, and the dealers in building materials and the contractors and builders using the bricks know nothing of their origin. The bricks are made of pressed glass waste in various shapes, mostly square and oblong, are gray in color, exceedingly hard, and are not transparent. Huinck & Imhofe showed me samples of more than twenty kinds, some of them made in imitation of plaster ornaments. The demand for the bricks, while still limited, is growing. The plain bricks are used to advantage for paving bridges and vestibules of large public and office buildings, and also for wall coverings in chemical factories. As the bricks are insulating they will be used in the electric power houses now in course of construction for the electric street-car companies of Rotterdam and The Hague. The ornamental bricks are principally destined for bridge decoration. Up to date, however, there has been no demand for these.
    Blown-glass building bricks, hollow, and of octagonal shape, are used in the Netherlands to a limited extent. The only dealer handling them sells them in small lots of from 50 to 100. They are used principally for light-giving purposes in walls of machine shops and conservatories. The bricks are of a greenish color and transparent. The total consumption of these for Rotterdam and vicinity has been 14,000 during the last three years. The bricks have been for sale at Rotterdam for the last six years, but it took a long while before any demand was created.
S. LISTOE, Consul-General.

(From United States Vice and Deputy Consul Schulin, Riga, Russia.)

    Glass bricks adapted exclusively for paving purposes, so-called "prisms," are produced by the Russian firm "Actiengesellschaft Zombkowiczer Glasfabriken" in its factories situated at Zombkowice, Poland. The article is manufactured, pressed, and uncut, from ordinary pellucid glass metal, in the form of oblongs adjustable by means of iron frames. As coverings for light shafts, etc., they are considered to answer the purpose just as well as the article manufactured by the "Luxfer Prism Syndicate," the introduction of which has also been tried here, but as yet without any success worth mentioning.
    Another kind of brick of glass manufactured according to the "Système Falconnier," of which the Warsaw firm Steck is the general representative for Russia, is produced in Kielce, Poland. These bricks, made of green blown glass and hollow, are mostly utilized for the construction of windows, partitions, etc. The cases in which they have been employed in these provinces are as yet too few to allow conclusions to be drawn with regard to their practical value.
CHR. SCHULIN, Vice and Deputy Consul.
    RIGA, RUSSIA, June 2, 1904.

(From United States Consul-General Lay, Barcelona, Spain.)

    The only manufacture of paving bricks from glass in Spain is that recently established at San Sebastian, in the province of Guipuzcoa, where a stock company with an authorized capital of 5,000,000 pesetas ($750,000) has been formed under the name of the "Sociedad Española de Piedra Vidrio y de Construcciones Garchey" (the Spanish Glass Stone and Garchey Construction Company). As its name implies, the company will work the Garchey patents. Important works are in course of erection at the little seaport town of Pasages, and sanguine hopes are entertained that a large demand will speedily grow up in this country for these bricks, owing to the many purposes for which they can be utilized and the evident advantages they offer.
    The devitrification of glass whereby its transparency and brittleness are replaced by an opaque appearance and a hardness resembling granite, is no new discovery. Many eminent French scientists had succeeded in devitrifying glass, but they had failed to find a practical process whereby a marketable value could be given to the product.
    Mr. Garchey has discovered a system for thus altering the molecular structure of glass which enables him to offer a new product to builders, the practical value of which can hardly be overestimated. In appearance it resembles granite with a variety of tones of color, these depending on the nature of the metallic oxides contained in the materials used in its composition, or which may be purposely added in the process of manufacture. It retains all the qualities of ordinary glass, in so far as to be unaffected by acids, being, therefore, particularly suitable for the floors and walls of hospitals, operating rooms, chemical laboratories, etc., as also for slaughterhouses, or even stables.
    It is further claimed that these glass bricks do not absorb moisture, being nonporous, and that therefore they form the most hygienic material known for paving the streets of large cities. Their hardness is greater than that of any kind of stone used in building, tests showing that it required a pressure of close to 29,000 pounds to the square inch to break the material, or 22 blows from a weight of 9½ pounds falling from a height of 39 inches.
    The special features mentioned also give the bricks a great resistance to wear and tear, as may be seen from the report of the laboratory of the army corps of engineers, a copy of which I append. In this report a comparison is made between Garchey glass stone and Carrara marble, it being found that the former is fifteen times harder than the marble. It might be feared from the fact that these bricks are made from glass that they would be too slippery for street pavements, but it is stated that their rough, corrugated surface makes them no more slippery than any other paving stones.
    Finally, the manufacturers of these glass bricks claim that they are absolutely unaffected by rapid changes in temperature; that they are nonconductors of heat, and therefore particularly adapted for building purposes; and that for electric-generating stations and other electric purposes no better insulating material can be found than Garchey glass stone, which can resist a tension of 60,000 volts.
    Five glass works in France and one in England are now making Garchey glass stone, and negotiations are in progress for working the patent in Russian, Austria-Hungary, and Roumania.
JULIUS G. LAY, Consul-General.
    BARCELONA, SPAIN, June 15, 1904.

(Report on Garchey patent glass stone by the laboratory of the army corps of engineers, Madrid, Spain.)

  1. Structural remarks: The samples present a very marked vitreous appearance, homogeneous greenish color, and compact texture; free from extraneous bodies and bubbles.
  2. Determination of specific weight: This has been ascertained by the volumetric process, utilizing the dust which passed through a sifter of 900 meshes to the square centimeter, and which failed to pass one of 4,900. Three tests were made with the average result, specific weight, 2.60.
  3. Apparent density: To determine this the samples were dried in a Fremy stove at a temperature of 40°C., and were afterwards weighed in fine scales. The volume was found by means of hydrostatic scales after the samples had been first saturated in water and successively weighed in the air and submerged in water. The difference between these two weighings in grams represents the volume of the sample in cubic centimeters and fractions of a centimeter. These tests were made with the average result, apparent density, 2.59.
  4. Absolute porosity: This has been deduced from the specific weight and the apparent density, dividing the difference between the two by the specific weight, thus a figure is arrived at which represents the relation between the volume of voids and the total. Absolute porosity, 0.0038.
  5. Tests of resistance to frost: For these tests four samples were used which had been previously saturated in water under the bell of the pneumatic machine at a pressure of 50 centimeters of mercury. They were then subjected during four hours to a temperature varying between -10° and -15°C. This operation was repeated twenty-five times with the following results:
    Resistance to frost.
    Samples. Weight (g) Weight after
    saturation (g)
    % of water
    to weight.
    Effect of freezing.
    G 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 902.1 902.7 0.06 No apparent change.
    G 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 714.0 715.5 0.20     Do.
    G 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 827.9 828.8 0.10     Do.
    G 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 810.3 811.4 0.10     Do.
  6. Resistance to wear and tear by friction: This test was made with a Dorry machine, constructed by Digeon, silicious sand being used, which passed through a hair sieve of 324 meshes to the square centimeter and not through one of 900. The stone used for comparison was Carrara marble. The stone was made to run at the uniform speed of 2,000 revolutions per hour, and both the sample under test and the other stone used were weighted with 250 grams to every square centimeter of surface under friction. The following are the average results of these tests:
    Resistance to wear and tear.
    Samples. Weight per
    square cm (g)
    Loss by wear & tear
    in 2,000 revolutions
    In height (cm). In weight per
    square cm (g).
    Carrara marble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 1.50 3.90
    Garchey glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 .10 .34

    The weight was applied vertically with the center of gravity in both samples.
JOSÉ MARVA, Colonel Director.
    MADRID, SPAIN, November 18, 1901.

(From United States Consul-General Peters, St. Gall, Switzerland.)

    Upon consulting the principal architects in this city, I learn that glass bricks of different shapes and sizes are manufactured by the Falconnier Glass Works, in Horw, Canton of Lucerne. The bricks are considered most durable, and give great satisfaction. Their use in building has not been extensive as yet in St. Gall, consequently the architects have not been able to test their durability on a large scale. The few experiments that have been made in this city are restricted to roofing, for the purpose of conducting light into dark rooms, for cellars, subways, engine houses, etc. Glass paving bricks are imported into Switzerland from Germany.
    ST. GALL, SWITZERLAND, July 6, 1904.

(From United States Deputy Consul Simon, Zurich, Switzerland.)

    Glass bricks for paving and building purposes are not made in this consular district. The city of Zurich, some fifteen months ago, ordered for trial a quantity of glass bricks from France to pave several hundred yards of a street where traffic is very heavy. In a very short time, however, the space paved became in such bad condition that the bricks, being too brittle, had to be replaced by other material. It is thought that glass bricks may do well enough for paving sidewalks, but so far no trials have been made in this city, nor elsewhere in the district.
JOSEPH SIMON, Deputy Consul.
    ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, June 11, 1904.

(From United States Consul Halstead, Birmingham, England.)

    Glass bricks are not manufactured here, but I find that the Crystalline Company, located in my consular district, is preparing to make them for paving and building purposes.
    This firm has patented and has for some time been using a special process of manufacturing tiles from glass combined with china clay, having upon their rear surface rough "keys" or "grips" enabling the tiles to hold very firmly into a special cement, also patented, which expands and contracts "at the same ratio as the glass tiles." A publication devoted to Black Country industries, describing this tile, which it considers ideal and which has had a large sale, states that while the ordinary tiles were made from earthenware and had excessive weight and bulk and were difficult to use for covering irregular surfaces or for the adornment of ceilings and the lighter forms of decorative work, these difficulties have been overcome in the glass and china tiles. The new tile is hard and almost indestructible, light in weight, easily affixable to either regular or irregular surfaces, retaining its brilliancy without crazing, that is, cracking on the surface, and because of the grip or key at the back adhering perfectly and permanently, and it can be manufactured in any kind of curve, angle, or molding. The publication also claims that the company has a process by which it is possible to produce any number of colors in glass, as many as thirty-six colors in one piece.
    Finding that a colleague at Lyon, France (Consul John C. Covert), had reported the use in Lyon of glass bricks for pavements and for building purposes, I sent a copy of his report to the Stourbridge manufacturer referred to. In acknowledging its receipt the Stourbridge manufacturer says that he is very well acquainted with the Garchey method, and while the material results are much like those of his own process, he "gets a porous glass stone something like lava," and calls attention to the fact that many years before M. Garchey produced his glass bricks, the old French chemists, Reaumer and Pelouze, pointed out that "devitrification" was possible. He adds that Garchey certainly produces valuable material for building purposes, and that there are other firms in Jeumont and other parts of France and in Brussels making building blocks very cheap, and that these firms can also make imitation faience of glass stone, now largely used for building purposes. My Stourbridge correspondent expresses the belief that glass in various forms will in time supersede ceramic productions, because cheaper and more lasting, and not liable to craze, and he is very optimistic about the chances of his own process for making glass bricks, which, though requiring larger initial outlay, will be, he believes, cheaper than any of the others. Though unable to verify it, he has heard that a firm in England, near Castleford, has taken up the manufacture of bricks by the Garchey process.
    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, June 23, 1904.

(From United States Consul Dexter, Leeds, England.)

    About fifteen or twenty years ago bricks were manufactured in England from the slag left over in iron and steel works. In a trial section of paving with these bricks, that their practical usefulness might be determined, two serious and unexpected features were developed. As the bricks wore they became slippery, and while the slag brick was generally as hard as glass, soft spots occurred, causing holes therein. As neither of these objectionable features could be corrected, the attempt at the manufacture of slag bricks proved a failure. This was the nearest approach ever made in this district to the manufacture of glass bricks.
    LEEDS, ENGLAND, June 2, 1904.

(From United States Consul Metcalf, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.)

    The nearest approach here to glass bricks are scorial bricks manufactured in the Middlesbrough district from the waste slag from the ironstone blast furnaces. These bricks are only used for street paving, etc., and are not intended for building purposes, at least no case is known where they have been so utilized. The price varies from $2.68 to $3.16 per ton, free on trucks at the works. During the last ten years scorial bricks to the value of about $69,000 have been exported from Middlesbrough to the United States, chiefly to Philadelphia.

(From United States Consul Daniels, Sheffield, England.)

    There are no bricks made from glass in this consular district, not are any bricks made from this material used in the city of Sheffield either for paving or building purposes.
    The authorities of the city have been engaged for some time in trying to convert the refuse from its garbage destructors into slabs for use in the construction of sidewalks and footpaths. This is done by grinding the slag to the requisite fineness, and in combination with cement, molding it into slabs. Fairly serviceable walks are obtained, and the garbage refuse is in this way disposed of. The experiment was commenced to determine whether this method of disposition would be more economical than to purchase ground and dump the refuse from the destructors there, and the experiment has not yet been tried sufficiently to warrant those engaged in it to advise its use generally.
    SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND, June 15, 1904.