“Try Lorillard’s Tobacco”

By Erica D’EliaAssistant Laboratory Director

ECL201PipStmCART archaeologists have taken a short break from our work at Colchester and have been out digging at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park for the past couple of weeks. CART was asked to do some limited testing of an area of paths slated for upgrades in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act so we can make sure that any artifacts that will be disturbed by the improvements are collected and recorded beforehand. We dug about 75 shovel test pits and 2 test units in the area. We are finding quite an array of interesting artifacts mostly dating between 1843 – 1935 when the Machen family owned the property.

One of the most interesting artifacts we found so far is a white clay tobacco pipe stem. Such pipe stems are fairly common on archaeological sites, but what makes this one special is that it has embossed identifiable letters and a design. Some of the letters are worn off or distorted a making it a little difficult to read. One side says “TRY LORILLARDS TOBACCO” and the other bears the address “16.18.20 CHAMBERS ST”. This is an address in New York City where the Lorillard Tobacco Company operated a retail location out of stores at 16, 18, and 20 on Chambers Street selling tobacco products.

The company was founded by Pierre Abraham Lorillard in 1760 and the snuff-grinding factory operated out of a rented house on Chatham Street. Pierre was killed during the American Revolution and subsequently two of his sons, Pierre (Peter) Jr. and George Lorillard, took over operations. The company moved to a location along the Bronx River around 1790 and then to New Jersey around 1870. The company appears to have stayed in the Lorillard family at least until the turn of the 20th century. Lorillard’s Tobacco Company operated until June of 2015 as the longest running tobacco company when it was bought by Reynolds American.

The wide date range for the company makes dating this pipe difficult, we know retail operations continued out of the Chambers Street location even after the manufacturing location was moved. There is an entry in the US Customs Journal dated 1865 and an advertisement from 1868 both which mention the Chambers Street location. Pipe stems can be used to date archaeological deposits; they tend to get narrower over time. This one measures 5/64th which was most prominent between 1720 – 1750. However, 5/64th pipe stems were also found between 1750 – 1800. Bore stem dating tends to be less reliable you approach 1800, so we looked at other factors which might provide a more satisfactory date.

The context we found the pipe stem in was mixed and contains artifacts ranging from the 18th century to the mid-20th century. The nails that were recovered include a few wrought nails (18th century), cut nails (19th century), and wire nails (20th century). Ceramic types include pearlware (1775-1840), flow blue on ironstone (1845-1900), and black transfer printed whiteware (1785-1864). The form of the pipe, with the steep angle of the stem and large bowl, are characteristic of the mid-to-late 19th century. Since this is consistent with the dates we have for the Machen family’s ownership of the property we’d guess it dates around then.

Further Reading

http://porttobacco.blogspot.com/2009/09/try-lorillards-tobacco.html

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About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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One Response to “Try Lorillard’s Tobacco”

  1. Pingback: CART Biweekly Update: 8 April 2016 | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

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