Oneida Ltd.

Oneida Ltd.
Item# 2980
$15.00

Oneida Ltd.
Oneida Ltd. is the world's largest stainless steel and silverplated flatware maker. The company originated in a utopian community established in the mid-nineteenth century, and has had a strong reputation for quality ever since.

The Oneida Community was founded by John Humphrey Noyes in upstate New York in 1848. The Community was founded on Noyes' theology of Perfectionism, a form of Christianity with two basic values; self-perfection and communalism. These ideals were translated into everyday life through shared property and work. They called themselves Perfectionists and, being logical and literal, they proceeded to substitute for the small unit of home and family and individual possessions, the larger unit of group-family and group-family life.

Their child care system freed the women as well as the men to take part in the Community's manufacturing of animal traps, chains, silk items, and silver knives, forks, and spoons. The Oneida Community soon became known not only for the unconventional lifestyle of its members, but also for the quality of its goods.

The Oneida Community existed longer than most other utopias of the nineteenth century in part because of the solvency of its businesses, and the members of the group lived and worked together from 1848 until the late 1870s. 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 Community was valued at $600,000 and stocks were distributed according to each member's original contribution and length of service. The stock was divided among 226 men, women, and children, the majority of whom received between $2,000 and $4,999 in shares. The progressive nature of the new company was reflected in, among other things, the presence of a woman, Harriet Joslyn, as superintendent of the silk mill and a member of the board of directors.

This is the foundation on which Oneida Ltd. was built.

During the fifteen years following Oneida's reorganization, the company's financial standing deteriorated. A severe depression in the 1890s, inadequate leadership, and emigration from the community plagued the new company. Some have speculated that the failure of the utopian community contributed to demoralization of the worker/stockholders, further eroding the company's prospects for success.

P.B. Noyes (son of the original founder) would return to the company in 1894 and proceeded to help the company rebound through aggressive marketing of the company’s products. From that time on, even during the Depression, advertising remained a major item on Oneida's balance sheet.

Oneida's chain business was sold in 1912 and the silk industry was liquidated in 1913, when man-made substitutes for silk were invented. The company's canning business was discontinued in 1915 because it was unable to compete with large-scale modern production methods. But the consolidations enabled Oneida to open its first international factory, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in 1916. In 1917, 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. Oneida's trap business was sold in 1925, which left the company entirely dependent on the silverware manufacture.

The company's contribution to the World War II effort included production of silverware for the Army and Navy and surgical instruments for military hospitals. Oneida also produced products for the battlefield: rifle sights, parachute releases, hand grenades, shells, survival guns, bayonets, aircraft fuel tanks, and chemical bombs, among other things. The company even purchased a separate factory in Canastota, New York, that produced army trucks, aircraft survival kits, and jet engine parts. That plant stayed in operation for several years after the war.

The vignette on this certificate features Mansion House and the company’s founder, John Humphrey Noyes. Mansion House was the actual home of the Utopian Oneida Community and was built between 1861 and 1914.


Certificate: Common Stock, issued in the 1960’s

Printer: American Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8” (h) x 12” (w)

State: NY-New York

Subject Matter: Consumer Products | Utensils and Cutlery

Vignette Topic(s): Distinguished Gentlemen | Stately Buildings

Condition: Vertical fold lines, punch hole and stamp cancels in signature areas and body.





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