Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today Anne and I delved into the artifacts from the 1970's excavations. While washing quite a few pipe stems, two in particular caught our eyes and we decided to investigate. The stem on the bottom is a mouthpiece with molded bands and dots. There is also a stamped "16.18.2" above an "N," and on the opposite side there are the letters "ARD" above an "O." While interesting, these markings did not offer much of an identification. That was when the second pipe stem came in handy. This stem (on the top in the pictures) also had molded dots and bands, as well as complete words rather than only letters. On one side it reads "61920 CHAMBER STREET NEW YORK." Clearly this was an address...but for what? The opposite side made it clear with the words "TRY LORILLARD'S TOBACCO." With this information we were equipped for a bit of historical sleuthing.

The company that produced these pipes is called Lorillard's Tobacco (though I suppose the stamped words made that obvious). The company was started in 1760 by an 18 year-old French fellow named Pierre Lorillard. He set up shop in New York City at 161820 Chamber Street. Roughly 30 years later his two sons, Peter and George Lorillard, would take over the company, later moving it to the banks of the Bronx River. The Lorillard Company can claim numerous firsts in the American Tobacco Industry including the first newspaper advertising campaign in 1787, and the first nationwide distribution of tobacco products in 1830 when post offices around the country began to stock Lorillard products. The Lorillard Tobacco company continues to operate today as the oldest tobacco company in America.

While we were not successful in finding an exact date for this pipe within Lorillard's long manufacturing history, its design offers some clues as to its likely age. Pipes with stamped molding were not made until the second half of the 18th century and into the 19th century. This only helped narrow the age range slightly, so we turned to the borehole as another source of information. The majority of boreholes measure at 5/64ths were made from 1710-1750, before the Lorillard's Company started. However, borehole diameters of 5/64th in. are also found in a significant number of pipes made between 1750-1800. As such it is likely that we can place our two pipe stems within this range of dates.

We will continue to keep you posted about interesting finds from the 1970's!

Kelley and Anne


Deborah Ferguson said...

my son found a pipe in great condition with the same making just wonder if you have found any more imfo on it when it was made we live in new york i would be interested if you have anything on it

Matt Tomaso said...

Thanks for the assistance! I was able to identify a pipestem from a Phase II investigation on a prehistoric site in New Jersey with reference to your photograph and description!

April M. Beisaw said...

We're happy to help.