Walter Scott Lenox

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Walter Scott Lenox
Walter Scott Lenox.jpg
Walter Scott Lenox

Resting placeRiverview Cemetery, Trenton, New Jersey
OccupationBusinessman, ceramist
Known forFine American bone china ware
The Wilson service - first American made bone china service.
The Reagan Service was modeled on Woodrow Wilson's.

Walter Scott Lenox was the American businessman who established Lenox china, supplying the first complete American-made bone china table service for Woodrow Wilson's White House.[1][2]


Lenox resolved to become a potter early in his boyhood. Starting in 1875 at the age of sixteen he first worked for a number of Trenton potteries. By his early twenties he had developed an excellent reputation, and based on this he was hired by Ott and Brewer Pottery Company of Trenton, then Willetts Manufacturing, as its art design director.[1][3] Then he focused on ceramic design and decoration. When Lenox was thirty he had saved enough money to enter a partnership with Jonathan Coxon. They started a company called the Ceramic Art Company.[4] Lenox wanted to be an expert in bone china. In the nineteenth century American pottery was inferior to European products. Lenox had three goals to accomplish for his goal to produce good quality bone china:[1]

  1. master the difficult bone china manufacturing techniques
  2. obtain sufficient financial backing for his factory operations
  3. overcome the wealthy’s prejudices against American bone china

Ceramic Art Company struggled financially in its early years, with the material and labor costs exceeded their income. Lenox bought out Coxon’s interests in 1894, and subsequently he operated it on his own as Lenox's Ceramic Art Company. He concentrated on manufacturing Belleek style pottery, which is Parian ware produced in Belleek, Northern Ireland. Lenox hired two expert Belleck potters help him master the technique. However, the troubled company went further in debt with the lack of sales and profits. He even had to consent to a new factory building being designed to allow it to be easily converted into an apartment building if the company failed.[1]

In the early 1900s Lenox's health began to decline, and he became paralyzed and partially blind. However, Lenox continued to work at the factory daily. His chauffeur carried him to his office where he began to monitor the production of porcelain with his hands. He relied heavily on trusting his assistant and secretary Harry Brown, a long-time employee.[1]

In 1906 Lenox established Lenox, Inc. Lenox’s company finally received a large order from a retailer, Shreve and Company. Soon after the delivery, the retailer’s store was leveled in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and everything destroyed, except for an undamaged single Lenox bone china plate. This plate became the cornerstone of Lenox's marketing campaign.[1]

Lenox made the first complete set American-made White House china table service, which was for President Woodrow Wilson.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Lenox, Inc". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  2. ^ "Lenox company history". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  3. ^ Trenton City Museum: History of Trenton Pottery Making
  4. ^ "Pottery & Porcelain - American". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  5. ^ "Lenox - About Us". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  6. ^ "Lenox - White House". Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  7. ^ "Lenox Porcelain is fit for presidents and kings". Retrieved 2008-11-17.