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 1953 Maytime California Figurine Big Hat Pink Bow Flower Dress Josef Originals Birthday Girl Cutting CakeJosef Originals Little Girl Pink Dress Holding Bird Josef OriginalsJosef Originals Figurine 10.5" Greek Lady In Green Dress W/ Urn - Grecian VesselVtg Josef Originals Bride Groom Couple Wedding Figurine Blue Violet Flowers Vintage Josef Originals Sweet Sister Angel Girl FigurineVintage Pair Of Josef Christmas Angel Figurines Christmas Present And StockingLot Of 17 Vintage Josef Originals Birthday Angels, Music Box Lady, Black Eyes!!!Josef Originals Pixie Elf Dish-adorable!Josef Originals "summer" From The "four Seasons" SeriesOlder Josef Originals Ceramic *angel Blowing Bubbles W/pipe* FigurineRare Vintage Josef Originals Girl With Sheepdog Dog Tag Gorgeous Figurine!Josef Originals Sewing FigurineJosef Originals Christmas Figurine With Red BootsVintage Josef Originals Lipstick HolderVtg Josef Originals Figurine Pair Little Praying Angel Children Boy Girl StickerJosef Originals "mother Music Box" Plays Brams' "lullaby"Josef Originals Figurine, Girl With Kitten, Blonde Hair, Blue Dress, Very NiceJosef Originals Girl W/ Parasol FigurineVintage Josef Original Little Gourmet Little Lady Figurine With Recipe Lqqk!Vtg Josef Originals Figurine Angel W/puppy Dog 'i Love You' Pink Blue White GoldVintage 1952 Josef Originals Girl Bunny Rabbit Figurine W/ Flowers & Gold RibbonOlder Josef Originals "girl In Green Dress Holding Book" FigurineJosefs Originals Sweet Little Girl Figurine Vintage Rare Josef Originals Christmas Lady W/ Muff Bell Series 1950's 3 1/2" Josef Originals "december" Birthday Girl From The Doll Of The Month Series (b)Vintage Josef Originals California Mary Ann W/pricked Finger Orig StickersRare Vintage Josef Originals Girl With Gold Frame Figurine Butterfly DressJosef Originals Purple Lavender Heart 4" Tall Ec FigurineJosef Original Victorian Woman Sitting In A Chair With Dog On LapJosef Originals Girl With Apron "international"? RareJosef Originals Wedding Couple 6" Music Box - Bridal March - ExcellentJosef Originals Japanese Girl W/fan - Approx. 3-1/2"Vintage Josef Original Sagitarrius AngelVtg Josef Originals Claudia Gibson Girl Series 5.25" Figurine W/ Tag!!!Vtg Josef Originals Girl Having Picnic Drinking Tea Pink Dress 4.25" Figurine!Vintage Josef Originals Angel Holding Baby Orig. Sticker Exc. NrJosef Originals Birthday Girls 1-21 Full Doll SetVintage Josef Originals Christmas Bell Shopper Girl With Package Holly Santa HatVintage Josef "betsy Ross" Musical Girl Figurine With Flag- Back Eye JapanJosef Originals Santa Sitting At His Table, Which Is A Little Flower PotVintage Josef Originals Cartoon Ostrich Figurine! Made In Japan. No Damage!Pair Of Reindeer Josef Originals 6" Black And Gold Sticker JapanVg. Josef Oiginals Early California Figurine-excellent!Josef Originals "sophia" Italian Provincial Series Vintage Josef Originals Figurine - Little International Series - GreeceVintage Josef Original Girl Figurine With Flower Parasol - Signed - NwtVintage Josef Originals Big Eyed Kitten Cat Figurine Ball Of Yarn Black TagVintage Josef Original "little Pet Series" Girl Holding Puppy - Adorable!!!! Vtg Josef Original Belle Of The Ball, Girl Figurine Bell + Sticker & Tag MintVintage Josef Original Cleo Figurine 241Vintage Josef Original Yellow Canary Pie Bird --perfectJosef Originals Birthday Girls Nib #13Josef Original Bell Blue Belle Figurine Original Label Vintage Josef Originals 11th Birthday Girls Angel Figurine Sewing Orig TagVtg Josef Originals Birthstone Girl August Peridot MintJosef Originals Wee Folks Girl Figurine Pigtails Ball W/ Original Tag JapanVintage Porcelain Josef Original December Girl Figurine George Good NrJosef Originals January Birthday Girl Figurine Garnet Pink Dress Japan