Lennox China – The Dinnerware of Presidents

Lenox was started in 1889 by its founder Walter Scott Lennox. Born in Trenton NJ in 1859, the foremost center for the American Ceramics industry in that time, Walter Lennox combined his interest in drawing and clay and began working at a pottery plant as a designer and decorator at 16 years old.

When he turned 22 he became joined Ott & Brewer as their design director. Ott & Brewer eventually folded a few years later and that’s when he decided it was time to go it on his own.

A mere seven years after taking the design director position Walter Lennox was starting his own company the Lenox’s Ceramic Art Company opening it’s doors in 1889. Walter created his ceramics as an art and even positioned his new company as an Art Studio instead of a factory. Most of his early productions were one-of-a-kind made of ivory china.

The Lenox China was originally made buy only 18 employees and consisted of a line of vases, pitchers and tea sets. Since he had laid the groundwork for his productions to be consider art they were picked up by the most elite shops of the time. In 1897 even the Smithsonian Institution showed a collection of Lennox China.

In the early 1900’s fine home dining came into vague and Lennox was quick to transition his company to handle the new dinnerware needs of the country. He began offering full sets of dinnerware to very exclusive families in early 1902, fighting the European control over the fine china trade.

As America’s demand for Lennox China continued to grow he changed the name of the company to Lenox Incorporated to reflect his reversal of philosophy from the Ceramic Art Company to more of a mass production company.

The company’s first large scale productions of Lennox China came in 1910 and were patterned with transfer prints that were then colored by hand. In 1917 Lennox China went to full color lithographic designs. The original two designs, Mandarin and Ming, were popular in America for over 50 years. These decals made sure every piece of dinnerware was decorated exactly the same and created a type of trademark look. Hosts were excited to have the new patterns on their dinner table that were easy to recognize so their guests knew they could afford Lennox China.

Lennox was becoming known as the china to have in the United States. In 1918 the white house ordered 1,700 pieces for official state services. Lennox China was the first American china to be used at the white house and has remained that way since.

Walter Scott Lennox dies in 1920 having succeeded in his quest for “perfection of American porcelain.”

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Source by Donald Arson

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