It is not unusual for many companies to last just a couple of years. In fact, research points out that even successful businesses will generally only manage to survive for around 50 years before being sold, disbanded or otherwise cease operating. In times of financial difficulty, such as the recession we are currently going through, when shops and companies are constantly going out of business it seems like it would be impossible for any to last more than 100 years. Yet many have.

For some of these companies it is easy to see exactly why they have managed to stay afloat for all of these years. They might have produced high quality products or provided much needed services that have always been in demand. In other cases though, it isn’t as clear cut how a business has lasted so long. What is clear, though, is that every single company featured on this list is far older than you could have imagined.


Sotheby’s is famous for being one of the biggest auction houses in the world today but it started life as a small auction for selling books by Englishman Samuel Baker in 1744. In that year it went on to sell the entire contents of Stanley’s library for just over £800 and has been operating as an auction house ever since, selling artwork, expensive luxury items and rarities to the highest bidder.


The British sure do love their tea so it makes sense that one of the oldest companies in the country would be one that specializes in creating tea. The business first set up shop in 1706 and has kept its headquarters in the same location and the same logo throughout all of its history, making it almost synonymous with the country.

Royal Delft

The Royal Delft earthenware has been in active use for more than 350 years, having been established in 1653. It produces high quality pottery that puts mass produced vases to shame, and that is the reason that its CEO believes that the company has lasted so long. It also helps that the blue and white products have become famous worldwide and that the company has a seal of approval from the Dutch Royal Family.

Shirley Plantation

The Shirley Plantation claims to be the oldest family-run business in the entire United States. It has been in operation since 1638, meaning it has revived the American Civil War, the American Revolution, the Great Depression and other significant events in the country’s history. It has passed through 11 generations of the family in its almost 400-year life.

Topics: businesses
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