A Proud Tradition since 1880
The Oneida Community was founded by John Humphrey Noyes in upstate New York in 1848 on Noyes’s theology of Perfectionism. The Community manufactured animal traps, chains, and silk items and eventually began manufacturing silver knives, forks, and spoons. It was at first known for the unconventional lifestyle of its members, but soon became known for the quality of its goods.
The Founding of Oneida
The Oneida Community existed longer than most other utopias of the nineteenth century in part because of the solvency of its businesses. Prosperity didn’t shield the organization from conflict however, and in 1879, the Community split into two factions. Unable to resolve their differences, the members voted to transform the group’s businesses into a joint-stock company, the Oneida Community, Limited, which would be owned and operated by former members of the society.
The Early Years of Advertising
In 1904, Pierrepont Burt Noyes (P.B. Noyes), the son of Oneida’s founder, established Oneida’s national presence by and brand recognition through advertising. Oneida’s earliest advertising campaigns established many of the trademarks that would characterize the company’s advertising for decades to come. Oneida was one of the first companies to employ celebrity spokespeople to promote its products.
In World War I, Oneida joined the wartime effort with the production of ammunition clips, lead-plated gas shells, and combat knives. The company also served as the principal source of a wide range of surgical instruments used in military hospitals.
The company’s contribution to World War II included production of silverware for the Army and Navy, and surgical instruments for military hospitals. Oneida also produced products for the battlefield including rifle sights, parachute releases, hand grenades, shells, survival guns, bayonets, aircraft fuel tanks, and chemical bombs. The company even purchased a separate factory in Canastota, New York, that produced army trucks, aircraft survival kits, and jet engine parts.
Introducing Stainless Steel Flatware
One of Oneida’s most important contributions to the flatware industry was the introduction of stainless steel flatware. This was a bold and pioneering move for Oneida. In the 1960’s, Oneida introduced Chateau, one of the first stainless patterns to successfully emulate sterling-like designs.
By the late 1960s, technological breakthroughs enabled Oneida to introduce the first ornate traditional pierced pattern in stainless. As stainless flatware gained a place in the silver departments of fine department stores, its convenient, easy-care qualities enabled it to surpass silverplate and sterling silver in popularity. The rise of stainless flatware sparked a new era of growth for Oneida.
Oneida Ltd. Today
Throughout the economic, social and political changes Oneida has seen, the company’s brand reputation for excellence has remained unshakable. Oneida’s workforce has maintained its dedication even through the most trying of times — adapting some original community ideals to fit the modern-day goal of being a complete tabletop supplier. Brand recognition, a focus on design & product quality, and dedicated employees are enduring strengths that form the backbone of the company as it moves forward.