Cigarette Pack Collectors' Association

                                           Larus & Bros, Tobacco Company

    

    In 1877, Charles Dunning Larus and Herbert Clinton Larus purchased the Harris Tobacco Company at 1917 E. Franklin Street in Richmond, thus forming the partnership of Larus & Brother Company. Herbert Clinton Larus died in 1882 and his nephew, William Thomas Reed, became general manger and partner in the company. For the next ninety-two years, the Larus and Reed families operated one of the nation’s most successful small tobacco firms. Known internationally for its Edgeworth pipe tobacco, Larus was an important member of Richmond’s tobacco community until 1974, when it closed.

  Larus & Brother Company originally manufactured chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco in a plug form. A year after its founding, Larus began operations at the state penitentiary and continued there until 1897, when the company moved to 7 S. Twenty-first Street. Operations continued at this location for more than three-quarters of a century as the company expanded to occupy most of the block bounded by Main, Cary, Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets. In 1900, Larus incorporated and issued stock.

  In 1903, Larus introduced its Edgeworth trademark. Edgeworth Sliced tobacco, the first nationally advertised pipe tobacco, came packaged in sliced form instead of the more conventional plug form. Nine years later, Edgeworth Ready-Rubbed was introduced as the first pipe tobacco ready for smoking, as it came pre-sliced and “rubbed,” or broken into smaller pieces. Edgeworth quickly became America’s best-selling pipe tobacco in its price class.

  With the purchase of the Reed Tobacco Company in 1913, Larus began to manufacture cigarettes. Reed Tobacco continued as the cigarette manufacturing subsidiary of the company and its brands included White Rolls, introduced in 1931, and Domino, introduced in 1933. During this period, Larus prospered and continued to expand, opening distributing companies in Boston (1932) and San Francisco (1934) and purchasing the Sparrow and Graveley plug tobacco plant in Martinsville, Va. in 1935. This latter venture proved unprofitable, as the plant was closed, and its operations transferred to Richmond in 1942. On November 2, 1925, WRVA radio, a wholly-owned Larus subsidiary, was licensed to operate in Richmond.

  For five weeks during the First World War, Larus’ entire production was requisitioned by the United States Government. Again during World War II, most of the company’s resources were directed toward providing tobacco products for the armed forces, American Red Cross, United Service Organizations, and other war-related agencies. One war-time project involved the manufacture of cigarettes in packages of four, inscribed with the words, “I Shall Return,” and the signature of General Douglas MacArthur. These were secretly distributed throughout the Philippine Islands.

   In 1942, Larus acquired Holiday, one of the first brands of aromatic smoking tobacco to be marketed nationally. Pipe tobacco continued as the company’s major product, with Edgeworth and Holiday its best sellers. However, profits gradually declined as more and more American smokers switched from pipes to cigarettes. As the tobacco industry offered little room for growth, Larus sought to diversify. In 1953, the Richmond Television Corporation, a Larus subsidiary, was granted a license to broadcast and station WRVA was established. In 1960 Larus purchased Charcoal Industries, Inc., and the following year opened its own charcoal plant under the name Terrace Products Company. Both charcoal operations were closed in 1964 and the television station was sold in 1968.

 On June 10, 1968, Larus & Brother Company was dissolved and a new corporation, Larus Investing Company, established as a holding company for three subsidiaries: WRVA-Radio, WRVA-FM, and the tobacco subsidiary, Larus & Brother Company. At this time, WRVA-TV was sold to the Jefferson Standard Broadcasting Company of Charlotte, N.C. On October 18, 1968, the tobacco subsidiary, Larus & Brother Company, was sold to Rothman’s of Canada, Limited, and the following year, WRVA-Radio and WRVA-FM were sold to the Southern Broadcasting Company of Winston-Salem, N.C. Larus Investing was then dissolved. Rothman’s continued tobacco operations in Richmond under the name House of Edgeworth until 1974, when the company was closed.