21 November 2011

German bricklayer, 1928

I thought the wooden collar he uses on his shoulders to transport the bricks was called a "hod," but apparently that term is used for a different device:
A brick hod is a three-sided box for carrying bricks or other construction materials, often mortar. It bears a long handle and is carried over the shoulder. A hod is usually long enough to accept 4 bricks on their side, however, by arranging the bricks in a chevron fashion, the number of bricks that may be carried is only limited to the weight the labourer can bear and the unwieldiness of that load. Typically 10-12 bricks might be carried.
I suppose his collar device has/had a name as well.

The top image is from a gallery of photos of Germans by August Sander, posted at Fantomatik.

Addendum:  Skipweasel noted that the brickworker's shoulder support is very similar to a milkmaid's "yoke":
Photo source.


  1. I've never seen that sort of device before. I wonder how he loaded and unloaded it? Maybe a second person is required. I'd guess he's not a bricklayer himself, but a bricklayer's labourer.
    The second picture, too, makes me think of how easy we have it these days. I pass a busy building-site every day on the way to work, a hyraulic loader lifts pallets of bricks up to the scaffolding where the bricklayers are working, unlike in the days of the picture, when a bricklayer brought his own labourer on site, the bricklayer was paid according to the number of bricks laid in a day, and he then paid his labourer out of that money. The labourer had to carry bricks faster than the bricklayer could lay them, and also mix mortar, and carry it in buckets to the job, and if the bricklayer was ever kept waiting for materials, the labourer would suffer.
    They must have been significantly fitter than the average worker today. No mechanical aids, just shovels and hods.
    They probably walked several miles to work and back, and, I'd guess, smoked incessantly.

  2. I remember three of us unloading 15,000 bricks from a lorry, once. Hot they were, not long from the brickyard, but they'd run out of pallets. Didn't have any fingerprints for a week or so.

    Of course, you could do it like this bloke...

    But this one...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGj-KkjwXJY just seems inefficient.

  3. I had forgotten all about that first video, Skip. Posted it about three years ago, but it's worth a repost tomorrow.


  4. I'd call that thing over his shoulders a yoke.

  5. On a side note, those two guys in the bottom picture look like identical twins.

  6. @Skip - it does have the same general shape as a yoke that would go over the shoulders of an ox or other draft animal.

    But I just tried to search brick + yoke without any success.

    (It may not have a name)

  7. Tim Finnegan lived in Walken Street,
    A gentle Irishman - mighty odd.
    He'd a beautiful brogue so rich and sweet,
    And to rise in the world, he carried a hod.

    That's the first and only non-dictionary use of "hod" I'd heard until today.

  8. Pretty off topic: the top picture reminds me of those cardboard cutouts of different bodies where you pop your head through

  9. Excellent, Skip. I've added that photo to the post.


  10. Or you could handle them like this...

    That attitude seems to go along with the quality of the brickwork behind.


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