Founded by Hungarian sportswear designer George Zoltan Lefton, Lefton China of Chicago, Illinois, imported porcelain decorative objects such as figurines and head vases, as well as kitchen wares such as cookie jars and salt-and-pepper shakers, from postwar Japan. From 1945 through 1953, these pieces were stamped with the words “Made in Occupied Japan.” Figures from 1946 to 1953 may also bear a red sticker with either silver or gold trim on their bases, which reads “Lefton’s Exclusives Japan.” Objects made after 1953 added the words “Reg. U.S. Pat. Off,” while those made after 1960 swap that phrase for the simpler “Trade Mark.” Unfortunately, during the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, the use of these stickers (and others) overlapped, so they are not a perfectly reliable way to date a piece of Lefton.

Beginning in the 1970s, Lefton began contracting with potteries around the world, from China and Malaysia to Italy and England. Fortunately, this global diversification had little impact on the quality of Lefton pieces, which is generally better than that of direct competitors such as Nike NAPCO and ENESCO. More variable is the look of Lefton figurines. For example, there is no such thing as the quintessential Lefton dog. Some are realistic, capturing the appearance of poodles, German shepherds, terriers, and basset hounds. Others are a good deal more syrupy and sentimental, such as the numerous versions of big-eyed puppies with bows around their necks. And then there are the figurines that are just plain silly—how else to describe a puppy wearing a hunting cap and carrying a shotgun, looking down at the innocent duckling that’s staring up at him from inside the canine’s bag?

Christmas figurines were a perennial favorite; Santa and Mrs. Claus, of course, but also adorable elves, angels, and children, some of which resembled candy canes with faces, arms, and legs. Especially popular is a character called Little Miss Mistletoe, whose cherubic face and short ponytail are tilted as she leans down to tie her red slipper. In fact, recurring characters were a big part of the Lefton catalog, so much so that Lefton had a number of lines devoted to them, from the secular Doll House Originals and Bloomer Girls to the religiously inspired Christopher Collection, which featured within it a group of Heavenly Hobos. In particular, many people gravitate to Lefton’s angels, which are often marked with the name of a month or a day of the week.

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    

Vtg Anthropomorphic Relpo Valentine Blue Bird Planter Figurine Norcrest/leftonVintage Lefton Bluebird Salt Pepper Egg Holder SetVintage Lefton Blue Bird Rhinestone Eyes Couple Salt Pepper Shaker Japan 045Set Of 2 Vintage Lefton Christmas Angel Bell Porcelain Figurines Japan3 Vintage 50's 60's Santa + Helper Figurines Spagetti Trim Napco LeftonVintage Napco? Lefton? April Easter Angel Girl With Rabbit Spaghetti Figurine Vtg Signed Geo. Lefton Christmas Shopper Girl Candy Cane Runners Sleigh FigurineVintage Lefton Hand Painted Porcelain Figural Valentine Girl Heart Bonnet DressLefton China Red Label Easter Bunny Rabbit ~japan~brown H6661 FigurineTwo Nice Old Vintage Lefton China Miss Priss Cat Kitten Salt & Pepper ShakersVintage Lefton?~stallion~porcelon~horse~figurine~beautiful! H946Vintage Lefton? Bulldog Dog Realistic Looking FigurineVintage Mr Toodles Lefton? Maltese Dog Salt & Pepper Shakers JapanPair Vintage Lefton Figurines Pastel Bunnies With Balloons Easter Bunny Rabbits3 Three Sweet Vintage Lefton Irish Leprechaun Elf Pixie St Pat's Figurines!Vintage Robyn Valentine Angel, Lefton Horoscope And 1955 Saturday Angel FigurineVintage Lefton Christmas Angel Bell Bearing Gifts Spaghetti Trim Japan 4.5" Vintage Leprechaun Lefton Figurine 06107 Irish St Patrick's Day Pixie ElfVintage Holly Christmas Pixie Elf Figurine Lefton ?Lefton Irish Boy Girl Leprechaun 01491 Figurines Lefton's Pottery Miss Priss Cat Head Teapot -very Cute And Colorful4 Lefton Era Japan Elves Elf Pixie Figurines Fireman Fire Fighters 1960's NiceVintage Mixed Lot Napco, Fine A, Geo Lefton Angel FigurinesVintage Lefton Irish St.patrick's Day Leprechaun Pixie Elf Figurine Ex. Cond.Lefton Colonial Christmas Village - Lot # 8 - 4 Children & Mother EberhardtVintage Lefton St. Patrick's Day Irish Boy Girl JapanVintage Lefton St. Patricks 5" Horn Blowing Elf # 6203 ExcellentLot Of 2 Christmas Figurines. Lefton And Napcoware. Vintage Lefton Holly Elf Pixie Salt & Pepper Shakers 2 Sets 1370Vintage Lefton Angel Figurens #6394Lefton Angel Red Hearts Valentines Day Ceramic Figurine 7699 Japan Vintage 1960sLefton Smokey The Bear With Cubs Crossing The Waterfalls Shovel/sign Lefton Smokey The Bear With Cubs Painting & Hanging Signs W/hammer Shovel/hatVintage Lefton Hand Painted Butcher Meat Cutter Porcelain Figurine2 Two Cute Irish Leprechaun Elf 1 Lefton Figurine+1 Little Luvkins Candle HolderBunny Rabbit Holding Balloons Figure Vintage LeftonLefton Smokey The Bear With Cubs Music Box Figurine 1996 Brahms Lullaby Lefton Kitty Cats W/bows,(one Sucks On His Tail To Go To Sleep) Salt Pepper H005Vintage Lefton Mermaid Girl BellVintage Lefton Baby Angel Vase 1121 Japan RareLefton Wedding Cake Topper,porcelain Figurine, A Girl & Her Cowboy (hat AdLefton Vintage Handpainted Two Old Women Doing Chores Figurine 4724Lefton China Red Label Easter Bunny Rabbit ~japan~white Pink H6660 Figurine Lefton Colonial Christmas Village - Mr & Mrs Fletcher - 00963 - Bride & Groom Vintage Lefton China Figurines- July-august-april-october All Kw4200Vintage Napco, Lefton Hummel Like Figurine "spring Frolics" Fantastic ConditionVintage Lefton Ceramic Bunny Rabbit Figurine Sitting UpVintage Salt And Pepper Shakers Puppy Dogs LeftonG Z L Lefton 1985 Porcelain Bulldog Puppy Figurine 05310Lefton Smokey The Bear Teaching Cubs About Fire Safety Squirrel Looking On Vintage Lefton Schnauzer Dog Porcelain Figurine H80521Vintage Collectible Lefton "off To School" Boy W/books & Dog FigurineBeautiful Vintage Lefton July Birthday Angel Kw 3332Vintage Lefton Ceramic Valentine Girl With Heart ~ # 471 Vintage App 6" Couple Lefton Delicate Fragile Oriential Japanese FigurinesVintage Lefton Figurine Egg Trinket Box Porcelain Bisque Hand Painted