ABSTRACT: To allow for reliable estimations of the seismic resistance of buildings, specimens were cut from existing buildings and tested to failure to establish the compressive strength and stiffness of this old masonry. The age of these buildings ranged from three to ninety-five years. In this paper only a part of a larger testing program is discussed. Differences between deformations measured over the whole specimen and those from LVDT measurements over the central part of the specimen are recognized and explained. The initial shear strength of old masonry is similar to the strength of laboratory made masonry and the coefficient of friction is almost equal. The main feature of this paper is the comparison of properties of masonry from real buildings of considerable age with those of masonry made and tested in the usual way.