Two Southern belle figurines exquisitely crafted in Lenox porcelain and painted beautifully by hand are our Museum Feature for this newsletter.
Lenox China was founded as the Ceramic Art Company in Trenton, NJ, in 1889 by Jonathan Coxon, Sr., and Walter Scott Lenox – with Coxon serving as president of the firm. Evidently the business relationship between the two men was stormy, and the company was dissolved sometime between 1894 and 1896. Lenox continued on with a private loan from another investor, whose confidence in the enterprise was less than enthusiastic. He stipulated, according to the excellent reference, “The Official Price Guide to Pottery & Porcelain,” edited by Thomas E. Hudgins, III, that the factory Lenox was to build “at the corner of Meade and Prince Streets in Trenton should be so constructed as to be converted into a tenement should the pottery fail.”
The pottery succeeded quite handsomely, in fact, and a new company, Lenox, Inc., was formed in 1906. World War I contributed to the growth of the enterprise, since during the period, china from overseas was nearly impossible to obtain, and President Woodrow Wilson gave the company an added boost with his order for White House china. The company grew in production not only of tableware, but in giftware and collectible figurines, as well.
Lenox fully detailed figurines like our Southern belles are highly sought-after by collectors. The lightness and detailing of the porcelain made it particularly vulnerable to mold and firing cracks. In the detailing of the fingers of the hand and the flowers in the basket of our wonderfully graceful figurine, “Mistress Mary,” you can see how tiny and fragile the details could be. Editor Hudgins of “The Official Price Guide” points out that variations in the application of glazing of as little as 1/1,000th of an inch could result in cracking, and it was notoriously difficult to apply glazing evenly to the folds and ruffles of these figurines, even by the most skilled artisans.
The ruffles in the bonnet and underskirts of the curtseying figurine, “Southern Belle,” are paper-thin and translucent. These figurines were probably produced in the 1940s and 1950s, according to Hudgins, and to find one in pristine condition today brings joy to a collector’s heart. Our Southern belle figurines in all likelihood were the work of Patricia Jean Eakin, who later was employed by the Boehm porcelain company. She had been, according to Hudgins, a ceramics engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority before joining Lenox, which was, at the time, probably the only company in America capable of producing figurines of such exquisite detail.
While our “Southern Belle” and “Mistress Mary” Lenox figurines are not for sale, Replacements, Ltd. carries a broad range of collectible figurines, not only from Lenox, but from companies like Royal Doulton, Boehm, Royal Worcester, Lladro, and many others. Be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities! Here you’ll find a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!