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. The plates were successful and he started producing complete sets of dinnerware. In 1906, he changed his firm's name from the Ceramic Art Company to the less-restrictive Lenox Incorporated