Larus & Brother Advertisements | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
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Larus & Brother Advertisements

"Smoked at both poles. Coast to Coast – Pole to Pole"

In 1877 a partnership between Charles D. Larus and Herbert C. Larus formed the Larus & Brother Company. This small tobacco company, based in Richmond, Virginia, received national recognition with Edgeworth pipe tobacco, which then became the international hallmark of the company. By the 1930s, Larus had expanded to manufacture cigarettes, operate distribution centers outside Virginia, sponsor national radio programs, and manage local radio and television stations.

This is part of our Take a Closer Look series. This regular feature offers a behind-the-scenes view of some of our hidden treasures in our library and what they reveal about our shared past.

During both world wars the federal government requisitioned Larus’s entire line of production. One special war project involved the secret distribution of cigarettes in the Philippines whose packages bore the words, “I Shall Return,” and the signature of General Douglas MacArthur. After the war, Larus prospered both as a tobacco company and a broadcasting company until the late 1960s. The company dissolved in 1974.

The corporate records of Larus & Brother are a part of the collections of the Reynolds Business History Center at the VHS, (Mss3 L3297 a FA 1).

Included in this collection are:

  • minute books,
  • scrapbooks,
  • general ledgers,
  • director and stockholder minutes,
  • charters,
  • daybooks, and
  • advertisements.
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"Smoked at both poles. Coast to Coast – Pole to Pole"
Advertisements offer unique snapshots of what appealed to and captured the interest of the day. This Edgeworth advertisement features a plane from the Byrd Antarctic expedition flying above the polar terrain, no doubt capitalizing on the romantic adventure and successes of fellow Virginian, Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd. (VHS call number: Mss3 L3297 a FA1 Box 15)
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Edgeworth: "You can put this in your pipe and smoke it"
"We're not suggesting that you use your gold fish bowl as a humidor . . . [but] after a day, or a week, under water you'll find the tobacco just as smooth-burning and smokable as the day it left the factory – because this handy pouch-package is lined with Goodyear Pliofilm." This full page, 1940 advertisement from the Saturday Evening Post indicates the national prominence of Larus & Brother, advertising in a popular, national magazine and in cooperation with the internationally based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. (VHS call number: Mss3 L3297 a FA1 Box 15)
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Edgeworth: "Tobacco at its best—in a pipe!"
A 1920s advertisement for Edgeworth "Tobacco at its best—in a pipe!" (VHS call number: Mss3 L3297 a FA1 Box 15)
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Fun! Frolic! Join the Corn Cob Pipe Club
In 1925 Larus & Brother added a radio studio to their downtown Richmond tobacco factory, and WRVA, the "Voice of Virginia," was born. Initially operated as a community service, non-commercial venture with two nightly broadcasts a week, WRVA quickly became one of the largest stations in the Virginia. Its popular "Corn Cob Pipe Club," a radio show broadcasting from the fictional town of Virginia Crossroads featuring jokes, a minstrel duo, and popular and traditional songs, quickly accelerated to a national audience airing on NBC. By 1934 membership in the Corn Cob Pipe Club totaled over 272,000 with chapters in all 48 states. (VHS call number: Mss3 L3297 a FA1 Box 15)
"Smoked at both poles.
Edgeworth: "You can put this in your
Edgeworth: "Tobacco at its best—in a
Fun! Frolic! Join the Corn Cob Pipe Club

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