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Easy guide to dating unnamed Lenox dinnerware patterns

  • In addition to all the stock Lenox patterns, Lenox also designed and produced custom-ordered dinnerware. These patterns were produced so rarely that they were never named. Hundreds of unnamed patterns were produced through the years, and most were created using the costliest decorating processes, including colored backgrounds, raised gold pastework, wide etched gold borders, and delicate hand painting.
  • Although they have no names, these patterns can be closely dated by deciphering the Lenox code, a combination of letter and number on the bottom of the piece. If you have Lenox china without a pattern name in the backstamp, look for the little gold numbers and letters painted near the foot rim on the back or bottom of the piece. The first set of numbers refers to the shape; each shape had a distinct number to identify it. The shape number is followed by a slash, which separates it from the pattern code.
  • The pattern code is to the right of the slash and is made up of a letter, a number, and sometimes another single letter. The first letter and number form the date code. The letter that follows the whole string usually designates a color (examples: R=red; B=blue; G=green) because many of these patterns could be special ordered with different background colors. That is, the same border decoration could be put over a red, blue, or green background depending on the customer's desire. Named patterns also had date codes assigned to them. For example, the code for "Autumn" is S-1; the pattern was introduced in 1919.
  • Lenox's date-code system runs through the alphabet twice. During the late 1940s, Lenox decided to streamline production by eliminating hundreds of patterns. Those that were kept in the product line, and all that were introduced later were given pattern names. The date-code system was gradually abandoned after 1950.
  • Shown below is the table of dating codes. A letter in combination with a number from 1 to 299 designates a pattern introduced in a year during the first alphabet series beginning in 1904 and ending with 1925. A letter in combination with a number from 300 to 500 designates a pattern introduced in a year during the second alphabet series beginning in 1926 and ending in 1950. The letters I, N, Q, and U were not included in either alphabet series.
  • Numbers 1-299
  • A - 1904
  • B - 1905
  • C - 1906
  • D - 1907
  • E - 1908
  • F - 1909
  • G - 1910
  • H - 1911
  • J - 1912
  • K - 1913
  • L - 1914
  • M - 1915
  • O - 1916
  • P - 1917
  • R - 1918
  • S - 1919
  • T - 1920
  • V - 1921
  • W - 1922
  • X - 1923
  • Y - 1924
  • Z - 1925
  • Numbers 300-500
  • A - 1926
  • B - 1927
  • C - 1928
  • D - 1929
  • E - 1930
  • F - 1931
  • G - 1932
  • H - 1933
  • J - 1934
  • K - 1935
  • L - 1936
  • M - 1937
  • O - 1938
  • P - 1939
  • R - 1940
  • S - 1941
  • T - 1942 to 1946*
  • V - 1947
  • W - 1948
  • X - 1950
  • *war years when very little new china was produced
  • Most of the coded patterns were eliminated from the company's repertoire in 1947 when production was streamlined. Those that remained in the line were named.
  • There are a few exceptions - patterns that were introduced and assigned numbers during the time that the system was passing out of use. Their assigned date code does not follow the system outlined above. These patterns also have names. The following pattern codes and names are the exceptions:
  • W-331 Pine, 1951
  • W-341 Cattail, 1951
  • X-302 Starlight, 1952
  • X-303 Olympia, 1952
  • X-304 Roselyn, 1952
  • X-407 West Wind, 1953
  • X-421 Athenia Coupe, 1953
  • X-444 Caribbee, 1954
  • X-445 Kingsley, 1954
  • X-446 Trio, 1954
  • X-516 Princess, 1954
  • X-559 Glendale, 1955
  • A-500 Wyndcrest, 1956
  • A-501 Alaris, 1956
  • A-557 Jewel, 1957
  • A-558 Chalet, 1957
  • C-512 Charmaine, 1957
  • Because all Lenox china patterns were available on request up until the production shift in 1947, it is not possible to determine the date that any particular unnamed pattern was last made. Thus, the date range of patterns in the unnamed group is routinely terminated with 1947. However, the backstamp of an unnamed pattern can provide some broad information on the dating of a particular piece or set. The standard Lenox backstamp for much of the 20th century (1906-1988) was a wreath enclosing the letter L with the name LENOX below. In 1930, the phrase "MADE IN U.S.A." was added beneath the company's name. Our proud heritage still shines today; all dinnerware produced in our Kinston, N.C., facility is stamped with "Made in U.S.A.".
  • Source: Ellen Denker, Lenox archivist
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