At the beginning of World War II, an Arcadia, California, artist named Muriel Joseph created Lucite costume jewelry under the business name Muriel of California. Unfortunately, Lucite was needed for the war effort, mostly for windshields in airplanes, forcing Joseph to search for a new material and product line. For a few years she made ceramic jewelry before seizing on the idea of ceramic figurines, which she produced with the help of her fiancée, Tom George, when he returned home from the war (like a lot of other vets, George could not find a job, so he focused on his wife’s business instead). By 1946, Josef Originals was launched, complete with the misspelling of Muriel Joseph George’s maiden name, thanks to a printing error.

Figurines of adorable animals, angels, and children dominated her early lines, as the small company, which was based in the couple’s home, focused on quality over quantity. By the mid-1950s, though, fake Josef Originals from Japan started to appear in the United States. George countered by adding even more details to her pieces, but this just made them more expensive to produce. Finally, a businessman named George Good convinced the couple to fight fire with fire and begin manufacturing Josef originals in Japan. In 1959, they went to the Katayama factory in Japan to personally train the workers there to ensure that the quality of Josef Originals remained high. It did, which made the 1960s and ’70s strong decades for the firm (George retired in 1981).

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

V&A Porcelain Figures

V&A Porcelain Figures

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of Meissen porcelain figures includes more than 150 pieces, in… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Josef Originals Bell Girl Reading Book Figurine With Label And Stamp EcVintage Josef Originals "love Makes The World Go Round" 9" Parasol Figurine FabVintage Josef Originals Caterpillar Figurine "mother Thinks I'm Pretty" Vintage Josef Originals Lovely Girl Holding A Hat FigurineVintage 1960's Josef Originals Bumblebee "how Sweet It Is", W Honey Pot, 2" TallVintage Josef Originals 4.5" Figurine Girl Cooking Colonial Days Rare W/ TagsJoseph Originals California Figurine, Girl In Brown/blue Dress And BonnetVintage Josef Originals (?) Girl Purple Dress Holding Mirror CuteJosef Originals Lady With Pink Dress Holding Flower.Vintage Josef Originals Mouse Family Md NurseJosef Originals Girl With Boo BooVtg Josef Originals "little Internationals" Spain Girl FigurineSweet Vintage Josef Originals Girl 4 1/2" With Umbrella Foil Label Green DressJosef Originals 1st Birthday Porcelain Girl Angel Doll Figurine Vintage Josef Blue Bird Figurine George Good Vintage Josef Girl In Pink Dress FigurineJosef Originals - Vintage - Age 9 AngelVintage Josef Originals 3.5" Teal And Gold Figurine Girl W/ Rhinestone Hat RareThree Cute Green & Red Pixies, Josef Original, Made In JapanVintage Josef Originals "adelaide" Holding Fan In Blue Dress Excellent ConditionJosef Originals Pamela FigurineJosef Originals Birthday Girl Angels Ages 2, 3, & 4Vintage Santa And Choir Boys Josef Originals - JapanVintage Josef Originals September Birthday Sapphire Girl In PinkVintage Josef Originals July Ruby Rhinestone Birthstone Porcelain Doll FigurineVintage Adorable! Josef Little Toddler Boy Holding Lolly Pop Wearing His Diaper Vintage Josef Originals July Girl In Pink Dress With Kitty Cat, Foil StickerApplause Josef Originals Through The Years Girls Sweet Sixteen 16 Doll Figurine Vintage Josef Originals Birthday Girl Angel Age 1 Josef Originals Music Box Girl Playing Violin.