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    

Josef Originals Htf Girl With Poodle Pink Ball All Original + Sticker 9 In Lqqk!Josef Originals Siamese Cat Lipstick HolderVintage Josef Originals October FigurineVintage Josef Originals Girl With Cat Kitten Figurine Josef Originals Yellow Bumble Bee Figurine Rare Htf W/ Sticker!Vintage Josef Originals Figurine~girl Dark Pink Dress W/hearts & Gold AccentsRare Vintage Josef Originals "night" From Morning, Noon, Night Series 7" W LabelCute Josef Originals Christmas Figurine Boy In Pajamas On Phone Xmas List 3"Vintage Josef Originals "holland" Figure, Little Internationals Series, RareVintage Josef Originals Commandments Series Girl Holding Kitten Be Kind GentleGeorge Good Josef Originals Japan Flocked Elephant Family Figurines FiguresVtg 1980 Josef Originals 8 Eight Year Birthday Girl Angel Doll Figurine Hang TagJosef Originals Lovely Hostess 5.5" Southern Belle California Figurine Josef Originals Ceramic Birthday Angel Figurines 1 Thru 6Vintage Japan Josef Joseph Original Figurine Girl Holding Mirror MintVintage Josef Originals Japan Baby Boy Beaver W/ Stick Figurine Rare HtfRare Josef Originals Covered Pin Dish Or TrinketJosef Originals Birthday Girls #15Vintage Josef Originals Japan Papa Beaver Hammer Figurine Rare Htf Both StickersVintage Josef Originals Japan Mama Beaver Figurine Rare HtfVintage Japan Josef Joseph Original Figurine Girl Holding Flower Gift MintDakin Josef Originals Birthday Girls Through The Years - 2 Year Figure In BoxJosef Originals Bumble Bee Flocked Small Figurine W/ Label "hi Honey!" Vintage Josef Originals Flocked Lion Figurine W Glass Eyes JapanJosef Baby Angel FigurineVintage Josef Originals Christmas Elf Pixie With Hair Japan Elf Xmas Stocking Signed Josef Originals Birthday Angel Ceramic Collection Age 4Josef Originals Realistic Porcelain Frog Figurine