Lenox China records donated to Rutgers' Special Collections
The records of a maker of fine china should reside in one of the finest archival
collections. The owners of Lenox China recently identified their archival institution of
choice to be Special Collections and University Archives at the Rutgers University
Following the sale of Lenox China to Department 56 in November 2005, parent company
Brown-Forman donated the Lenox company records to Rutgers' Special Collections and
University Archives. Special Collections received over 500 cubic feet of materials,
including design records, sales and marketing materials, annual reports, and other
records, along with a grant of $62,000 from the Brown-Forman Foundation to properly
process and catalog the company archives.
Special Collections was part of a New Jersey consortium that received the collected
history and memorabilia of Lenox China. Historic and prototype company plates, vases,
bowls, and artwares were donated to the New Jersey State Museum and the Newark Museum.
Started as the Ceramic Art Company in 1889 and based in Trenton, the company initially
focused exclusively on manufacturing porcelain. The small studio produced delicate vases
and other items of molded china, decorated with figures and flowers, which were sold in
undecorated form for others to complete.
In 1906 the company was renamed Lenox, Incorporated in recognition of the work of Walter
Scott Lenox, the principal designer and founder. With the name change Lenox shifted
focus to the manufacture of fine tableware and artware for high-end customers. Lenox
tableware grew in acclaim and samples were proudly displayed and used on tables in the
wealthiest and most influential homes, including the State Dining Room of the White
As World War II consumed much of the nation's efforts and imagination in the 1940's,
Lenox embarked on a noble and lesser-known chapter of its history. Lenox made a unique
contribution to the war effort by producing an exceptionally durable material called
Lenoxite, used in high-frequency radar devices by the United States Signal Corps.
After the war, Lenox made use of new technologies and production capabilities to create
fine china that was affordable to discerning middle class customers. As the country
witnessed rising incomes and wealth through the 1950s and 1960s, it also saw more and
more Americans who joined their President by dining on fine Lenox china.
Special Collections and University Archives look forward making the Lenox archives
available to researchers studying the histories of marketing, manufacturing, and
consumerism in America. The story of Lenox is the story of a national leader in
porcelain production for over 100 years, which grew to successfully sell their respected
products to millionaires and middle class alike.
For more information on the Lenox China company archives, please contact Ron Becker,
head of Special Collections and University Archives, by email at
or by phone at 732/932-7505, ex. 362.