Still unsure what the heck was breaking my wrists.

Brooke here:

Repost of the pottery scraps and the hangy-bit-line-things on the underside (A) and the top (B).

Remember this post about the Vestigial Lawn and the bits of pottery shrapnel I kept digging up?  We still have no clue what this stuff is.

The all-knowing Internet has provided options but no answers, and comments and emails from blog readers have not given any clear resolution to what these odd bits of old things might be.  Beth R. observed the outer lip might allow these to be used as a a decorative baseboard, something similar to the sanitation wrap which joins the wall to the floor in commercial bathrooms.  Other readers said these could have been used in the garden as pottery or for drainage.

There is a slight consensus towards roofing tiles.  John said these seem to be like the Spanish roofing tiles where he lives, and Kasey K. sent her boyfriend up on the roof to take pictures of the tiles on their Belgium home:

Belgium roofing tiles, and look! Hangy-bit-line-things!

They have the grooves in the right places, but there are differences.  Kasey’s tiles have deeper, more rounded grooves and are generally thicker and more solid-looking than our scrappery.  The grooves might be regional preference, but I have looked around and have not been able to find any thin roofing tiles.

Digger noted that it might be the remnants of bricks used for housing insulation:

Looks like structural terra cotta to me. Structural terra cotta isn’t bricks, but more honey-combed (generally) forms used from linings to entire buildings. You may have had a small outbuilding or addition built from it, or perhaps it was used for a flue liner. Here’s linkage to an online piece that clearly shows the same stuff as what you have:

That link leads to a fascinating article on “hollow tile,” which appeared to provide some insulation in addition to cosmetic facings.  The thickness and general size of the pieces looks similar to those in the article.  This might be more likely than roofing tile!

Another option is that these are simply old floor tiles.  I’ve chipped off some of the marine enamel (read: industrial boat paint) on the floor of the hallway bathroom and it looks as though the previous owners painted over red terra cotta tiles.  The color and texture is not a match to the pottery scraps, but the scrappery was left outside for a few decades so weathering might have altered them.  I’ve never heard of floor tile with thick grooves on both the top and the bottom, though, and five wheelbarrows full of floor tiles is a lot of materials waste.

Weirdly, I was digging around in the ivy and found yet another scrap of pottery with the same hangy-bit-line-things, but this one was blue.  It was what put me in the mindset that these might have been used for decoration rather than construction. And take a look at this: there’s writing stamped into it.

Top text: Carlyle. Bottom text: MADE IN U.S.A.

The edges are saw-cut so someone fabricated something out of this.

I still have no idea what these things are.


5 thoughts on “Still unsure what the heck was breaking my wrists.

  1. Some peripheral searching indicates that it could be from the Ohio-based Carlyle Labold Tile and Brick Company. It seems that the Carlyle name was in use from the late 20’s to perhaps the early 70’s when the parent company went bankrupt. I can’t find anything as far as visuals on the bricks/tiles themselves but they seem to have made a wide variety of products. If you could find a catalog of some sort you might be able to suss out the actual purpose.

  2. What you’re looking at is roofing tile. Prior to 1950 there were more than 20 manufacturers in Ohio and each of them had roof tile that was slightly different from the others. Today there are only two manufacturers of clay products (aside from brick) left in Ohio (Logan Clay Products and Superior Clay Products). Neither of them actively promote roof tile. The only manufacturer that I’m aware of who is currently manufacturing roof tile is Gladding-McBean. You can see pictures of roof tile in use at their website:

  3. I disagree with Tera and agree with Digger. I have the roofing tile that Tera is pointing to scattered on houses all over my area and it looks nothing like what you have. Looking at the two different articles and pictures, it looks incredibly like the hollow structural tile. I did some googling myself (which I’m sure you did) and really found absolutely nothing of interest on the name Carlyle +tile. (Well, interesting yes, but nothing that really helps you with your identification problem.) Is it possible that there was a small outbuilding built of the structural tile that just… fell to waste? Or crumbled under the weight of SO MUCH IVY. 🙂

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