Friday, January 20, 2023

Lorillard’s Pipe as Advertising

Since resuming activities in the lab, we have received new collections to process from private collectors and artifact transfers from our Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) sites. Among the artifacts that we received, from Cornwall Iron Furnace, is a nearly complete white ball clay pipe bowl with a portion of the stem intact. Though a small artifact with limited provenience information, this pipe bowl gives us a glimpse at history of an early tobacco company.


Cornwall Iron Furnace is a historic site managed by the PHMC. Located in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania the Cornwall Iron Furnace was a mid-18th-19th century iron furnace. In 1742, Peter Grubb established the furnace to process ore from the mine he had opened a few years earlier. Named for the place Peter’s father emigrated from, Cornwall, England, the furnace developed into a plantation with industrial, agricultural, and residential activities. Small communities with homes, shops and schools began to grow around the furnace for the mine and furnace workers. The furnace remained open until 1883. Today Cornwall Iron Furnace visitors can view several furnace and village related buildings available for visitation and tours (Cornwall Iron Furnace 2023). 

Photo of part of the Cornwall Iron Furnace. Image from Cornwall Iron Furnace 2023

Artifacts recovered from PHMC historic sites are transferred to the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Section of Archaeology, for cataloging and curation. As mentioned above one such object that was found on the Cornwall Iron Furnace property is a ball clay pipe bowl with a section of the stem still intact. The stem section that is present is stamped with TRY LORILL… TOBACC... CHAMBER ST ...W YORK, which if all present, would read TRY LORILLARD'S TOBACCO 16.18.20 CHAMBER STREET NEW YORK. This stamping indicates that the pipe was manufactured by or for the Lorillard Tobacco Company (Omwake 1967). 

Photos of both sides of the Lorillard Tobacco Company Pipe found at Cornwall Iron Furnace, 36Le375. Image from the collection of The State Museum of Pennsylvania.


The Lorillard Tobacco Company was founded in 1760 by 18-year-old Pierre Abraham Lorillard in New York City. The snuff-grinding and packing process was first operated out of a rented house on Chatham Street, New York City. Later a snuff mill was opened in what is now the Bronx Botanical Gardens, while the company’s retail locations were out of stores 16, 18, and 20 on Chambers Street (Fox 1947). Incidentally, this is what the stamped mark “16.18.20 Chambers Street New York” on the pipe stem references.

Pierre’s sons, Peter and George, took over the company in 1776 after Pierre’s death (D’Elia, Erica 2016; Fox, Maxwell 1947; Kelley and Anne 2009). Originally the company made snuff, plug chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigars, but Lorillard moved into producing cigarettes in the 1880’s and have sold brand names such as Newport, Old Gold, Maverick, Kent and more (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2019). The company remained in the family for many decades and in the early 1870’s the Lorillard company moved to 111 First Street New[FC1]  Jersey. In 1891 the company was incorporated (New Jersey City University 2021).  The Lorillard Tobacco Company continues to operate today as the longest running tobacco company in the United States and is currently under the parent organization of Reynolds American (Kelley and Anne 2009, The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019).

Lorillard Snuff Mill, Bronx New York. Image from Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress.

Lorillard Tobacco Company has been a master of advertising from the beginning. The pipe found at Cornwall Iron Furnace was an advertisement in itself, that suggested the user try Lorillard’s Tobacco and where this tobacco could be purchased. In 1789, Peter and George Lorillard expanded their advertising beyond window displays and word of mouth by taking out ads in newspapers and magazines. By 1830, the Lorillard Company began to use direct mail advertising and in 1855 they were adding trading cards with their products (Fox 1947). Eventually the company’s ads moved to radio and then television. One recognizable television ad that was produced by the Lorillard Company includes the dancing “Old Gold” cigarette package (The University of Alabama 2018). 

P. Lorillard advertisement. Image from The New York Public Library, Digital Collections.

The Lorillard Tobacco Company has a long history and made waves in advertising and nationwide distribution for the tobacco industry (Kelley and Anne 2009). With this long history it can be difficult to determine the age of the pipe found at the Cornwall Iron Furnace, but archaeologists often use what is called a typology to determine the production date of an artifact. This is true of pipe stems. Based on historic documentation the length of pipe stems increased as time went on. Pipes from this time were made in two-piece molds, after the clay was pressed in the mold a wire was pushed through the stem to form the bore. To bore a hole through such long stems with no damage to the wall of the stem the size of the wire used to bore the hole had to decrease (Hume 1969).

Smoking pipe terminology (Bradley 2000).

With this in mind, and a study of thousands of pipes, J.C. Harrington created a system that correlated bore hole diameter to production date (Hume 1969). Today this system is often used, though there is debate about its accuracy. New research indicates that Harrington’s bore hole size typology is not nearly as accurate as once thought. As more information is collected on pipe stems and the study base size increases (more pipe stems) it seems that many pipe stems of the different bore hole sizes were in production beyond the Harrington date typology (McMillan 2016).

J.C. Harrington pipe stem bore hole typology table.

The Lorillard pipe recovered at Cornwall Iron Furnace has a bore hole size of 5/64”, which would date it to between 1720-1750 using the Harrington typology; however, this date is prior to the start of the Lorillard’s company. The new research, however, indicates that pipes with a 5/64” bore hole size were in fact in production into the 1750-1800 period as well (McMillan 2016, D’Elia 2016). This new date falls within the production time of the Try Lorillard company. If newer research is accurate, we can date this pipe bowl and stem to between 1760-1800. So, between 1760 and 1800 there was someone, likely a furnace worker, smoking this pipe advertising the Lorillard Tobacco Company.


Though there is more to be said about the history of the Lorillard Tobacco Company and their influence on advertising and tobacco use in the United States, we are examining this pipe found at Cornwall Iron Furnace for its origin and use at the site. As archaeologists we use research methodologies to date and learn about artifacts while often learning new bits of history along the way. It is this research that allows us to connect the tangible evidence of the past with the peoples who made and used these artifacts.  We hope you have enjoyed diving into the history of this artifact, and we invite you back to learn more about Pennsylvania’s archaeological heritage. View other artifacts in the PHMC collections.  



Bradley, Charles S.

2000       Smoking Pipes for the Archaeologist. Studies in Material Culture Research, 2000:104-133. The Society for Historical Archaeology, California, Pennsylvania.

Cornwall Iron Furnace

2023       History. Electronic document,, accessed January 11, 2023.

D’Elia, Erica

2016       Try Lorillard’s Tobacco. Electronic Document,, Accessed January 13, 2023.

Fox, Maxwell

                1947       The Lorillard Story. P. Lorillard Company, New York.

Hume, Ivor Noel,

1969       A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Kelley and Anne

2009       Try Lorillard’s Tobacco. Electronic document,, Accessed January 13, 2023.

McMillan, Lauren K,

2016       An Evaluation if Tobacco Pipe Stem Dating Formulas. Northeast Historical Archaeology 45:67-91.

New Jersey City University

2021       P. Lorillard Tobacco Company, 111 First Street, Between Warren Street and Washington Boulevard, Jersey City Historic Warehouse District. Electronic Document,,  Accessed January 13, 2023.

Omwake, H. Geiger

1967       Supplemental Report on Additional White Clay Pipe Evidence Recovered from the Buck Site Near Chestertown, Maryland. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware. 5(Fall):21-30.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica

2019       Lorillard. Electronic Document,, Accessed January 17, 2023.

The University of Alabama

2018       Big Tobacco in the Big Apple. The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society. Electronic Document,, Accessed January 17, 2023


For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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