1863: Cinder Block aka Hollow Construction Block

Per Encyclopedia.COM, the narrative compliant history of the Hollow Blocks sounds like this:
  • The first hollow concrete block was designed in 1890 by Harmon S. Palmer in the United States. After 10 years of experimenting, Palmer patented the design in 1900. Palmer's blocks were 8 in (20.3 cm) by 10 in (25.4 cm) by 30 in (76.2 cm), and they were so heavy they had to be lifted into place with a small crane. By 1905, an estimated 1,500 companies were manufacturing concrete blocks in the United States.
  • These early blocks were usually cast by hand, and the average output was about 10 blocks per person per hour. Today, concrete block manufacturing is a highly automated process that can produce up to 2,000 blocks per hour.
  • Concrete Block | Encyclopedia.com


Yet, it does appear that the hollow block design was developed no later than 1863. At least per the below publication we get the following info pertaining to 1863, and obviously 1868:

hollow building blocks.jpg

1868 Source
The accompanying engraving illustrates a somewhat novel method of constructing the outside walls of buildings, and which would appear to be particularly applicable to hot climates, such as India, on account of the peculiar facilities which it presents for ventilating the interior, and drawing off the vitiated air without the aid of any mechanical intervention, beyond such as may be necessary in order to regulate the amount of current that it may be desirable to maintain.
No claim of novelty attaches to the peculiar kind of bond which it is here proposed to adopt, and which consists of headers and stretchers, of peculiar form, so arranged that they actually key, and bind themselves together, and, consequently, requiring only so much cement to set them as will suffice to render their joints air-tight.
  • A somewhat similar arrangement was patented so long back as August, 1863, by William Austin, of Holywell-street, Westminster, and for whom specimen blocks were actually constructed by Mr. Frederick Ransome, in his patent stone.
  • The importance in such a style of building as that now proposed, of getting the blocks to fit with tolerable accuracy, will be at once apparent; and for that reason but little reliance could be placed on terra cotta, or any species of burnt brick; but in the patent concrete stone there appears at once a material easily manufactured, and particularly suitable for the production of blocks that would match, when laid, with as perfect accuracy as cut stone, and that without any dressing after it is once turned from the mould. The applicability of patent concrete stone for use in India has already, in its general aspect, been clearly pointed out in a former number of Engineering; every new method, therefore, whereby its advantages can be more greatly extended, with a view either to economy of construction, durability, or the means of producing additional comfort, can only tend to increase its sphere of usefulness, and hasten its introduction in all places where materials exist, or may be easily obtained, for its manufacture. It will not be necessary here to point out more particularly the advantages of that material in the case in point, as they will most probably clearly suggest themselves to the reader; it will be sufficient, therefore, in the present instance, to confine our remarks to the mode of construction here illustrated, and which, by the way, it may be remarked, has recently been proposed as specially suitable for employment in India by a member of the Bengal Public Works Establishment, whose experience in the use of Bansome's patent stone is of several years' standing.
  • The advantages to be derived from this method of building may thus be briefly described:—In the first instance it would introduce a simple and most effective means of ventilation; for the wall being hollow and partitioned in its thickness, would contain within it two distinct columns of air; It is evident then that the sun's rays, falling on the outside of the wall, would rarefy the air in the exterior flues, thereby causing an ascending current, and exhausting the vitiated air through valves placed near the floor line, or any other point which might be considered best to ensure good ventilation. At the same time fresh air would be admitted through the interior flues and near the level of the ceiling, by means of valves placed in the exterior of the walls at a certain elevation above the ground line. These valves might be arranged so as to be perfectly under command from the inside of the building, and capable of simultaneous adjustment by an arrangement of rods and levers.
  • The description of valves shown may not be the most suitable, but they serve to illustrate the principle as well as any other. It may confidently be expected that there would always be sufficient difference between the temperature and specific gravity of the atmosphere within and without the building to maintain efficient ventilation. The area of the air spaces might also be under perfect control, so that violent and injurious currents could be obviated.
  • Secondly, by this method of construction, great facilities would exist for ensuring dryness and improved decoration. From the fact of the walls being hollow it is quite clear moisture could not be absorbed so as to pass through to the inner surface, and as the nature of the material admits of the blocks being manufactured, so that the interior walls may present a perfectly smooth surface, it does away with the necessity for plaster; the only finishing necessary would be to rub down the walls with a piece of the same material, and wash them with clean water applied with a common whop stock brush.
  • And, thirdly, there may be claimed for it considerable strength, together with speedy and economic construction. It is evident the strength of a wall thus constructed can scarcely be exceeded, the quoin stones being set last, and forming at once the key and closure of the building; it would be impossible to remove a block without destroying it. This plan of dovetailing was successfully introduced by the author of this mode of construction we are now describing about 10 years since, in the erection of the stone solitary cells of a large penal establishment in the colony of Victoria.
These blocks, from their uniformity and accuracy, could be set with great rapidity; they could be made of any size, suitable to the designs of the architect. Blocks, of the size shown in the drawing, are equal in cubic contents to fifteen standard bricks, and in all probability they would not take longer in setting, if so long. Presuming, then, that the first cost of production would not be excessive, that plastering and other finishing would be saved, whilst at the same time a simple and effective mode of ventilation would be introduced, this mode of construction, taken as a whole, recommends itself to notice, on the score of its own merits, and, as we have before stated, it would appear especially applicable for India or other tropical climates.
 
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