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Lenox is an American company that sells tabletop, giftware and collectible products sold under the Lenox, Dansk and Gorham brands. They are the only major manufacturer of bone china in the United States.
Lenox was founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox as Lenox's Ceramic Art Company, Trenton, New Jersey. From the start it was organized as an art studio and not as a factory. It did not produce a full range of ceramic articles but rather one-of-a-kind artwares. The company at first had just eighteen employees. Lenox's products were first displayed at The Smithsonian Institution in 1897.
Lenox's products became popular in the early 20th century when separate dining rooms and hostess parties became the new trend. Lenox then started making custom-designed, elaborately decorated dining plates. He faced European competition but commissioned famous American artists such as William Morley to decorate his plates. He gained success at this and eventually turned his attention to complete sets of dinnerware. In 1906 he changed his firm's name from the Ceramic Art Company to Lenox Incorporated to show the widing scope of his products.
Two of the first patterns Lenox produced were introduced in 1917, the Ming and Mandarin, which were eventually manufactured for over fifty years. Lenox products also became well known in the US thanks to Frank Graham Holmes, chief designer from 1905 to 1954, who won several artistic awards such as the 1927 Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects and the 1943 silver medal of the American Designers Institute. Lenox pieces were chosen for display in 1928 by the National Museum of Ceramics in Sèvres, France — the only American porcelain to receive this honour.
In the 1950s Lenox offered five-piece complete place settings, three-piece-buffet/place settings and individual tableware pieces. Its products was now within reach of the average US family. Lenox was the first company to develop a bridal registry.
In 1983, Lenox was acquired by Brown-Forman Corporation. Brown-Forman acquired Dansk International Designs and its Gorham Manufacturing Company division in 1991, which were incorporated as part of Lenox.
American by Design
On March 16, 2009, a group of investors led by Clarion Capital Partners purchased the assets of Lenox and renamed the company Lenox Corporation. Lenox continues some manufacture of bone china dinnerware in its plant in Kinston, North Carolina, built in 1989. The 218,000-square-foot (20,300 m2) plant is situated on 40 acres (160,000 m2). Its manufacturing capabilities include enamel dot, etch, color and microwave metals. It was also this plant that manufactured the Bush White House bone china.
Lenox was the first North American bone china to be used in the White House, and the company has since made tableware for six U.S. presidents. They are officially titled:
Lenox tableware is at the vice president's official residence, more than 300 United States embassies, and more than half of the governors' mansions. Dignitaries of the United States Congress and Department of State have received Lenox giftware. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Smithsonian Institution have as centerpieces in exhibitions of American decorative arts Lenox pottery. The Lenox backstamp is on about half of all fine porcelain dinnerware purchased since the 1950s in America. Beside collectibles, Lenox also produces tableware, serving pieces, vases and Department 56 items.