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    

Rare Vtg Lefton Set 4 Christmas Green Holly Pixies Elves Figurines Japan LabelsVintage Lefton Christmas Candy Cane Trio FiguresVintage Set/3 Lefton Candy Cane Angel Figurines "sweet"Vintage Lefton China Miss Priss Creamer Sugar Bowl Kitty Cat #1508Lefton Blue Bird Suger And Salt And Pepper ShakersVintage Rare Lefton Figurines (2) Halloween Cat Girls (original Stickers)Vintage Goe.z Lefton Angel Children Winter Kids Merry Christmas Candy Cane # 626Vintage Lefton Blue Bird Clip Figurine RareVtg Lefton Christmas Angel Spaghetti Trim Figurine Candy Cane Signed Cory RightVintage Lefton Blue Birds W/flowers & Bows Salt & Pepper Shakers #282Vintage Lefton Christmas Mini Candy Cane Girl Figures (3)Lefton Halloween Cat Girl Costume Figurine Ultra Rare Boo! Trick Or Treat BagRare Vintage Lefton Mr Toodles Butter Dish No 3294 Maltese Dog 2 Piece CoveredVintage Geo. Lefton Angel BellsVintage 50s 60s Geo Z. Lefton Christmas Bloomer Girl Figurine Planter 024Arabian Lefton Wild Tail Horse Matte Finish 80522Lefton Colonial Village - Children And Gifts - Hand Painted Porcelain #07328Lefton China Porcelain Lady With A Flower Basket Figurine Amelia JapanVintage Lefton Little Miss Mistletoe FigureTwo Vintage Porcelain Lefton Horses White Grey Porcelain Figurines Lefton Vintage Angel Christmas Bell PairVintage Lefton Musical Irish Girl In Shamrock Dress Figurine #1431Vintage Set Of 2 Lefton Angel BellsLefton Angel W/ String Bass ~ Vintage 1950's Ceramic Christmas Figurine ~ JapanVintage Lefton Holiday "lady" Planter 8" TallLefton Colonial Village - Rover Dog & House - Hand Painted Porcelain #04458Vintage Porcelain Angel Christmas Ornament Lefton Vintage Lefton "red Head Sisters" Mermaid & Seahorse Ceramic Figures Vintage Lefton Naughty Angels-sling Shot/comic Book - Christmas- Boy Girl AngelsLefton May Girl Angel - Gold Halo - Glass Butterfly - Holding Mother Cake Lefton Ceramic Japan Dutch Girl Egg CupVintage Lefton Halloween Cat PlanterVintage Lefton Christmas Candy Cane & Little Angels Figurine DecorationLefton Bluebird 435Lot Of Birds, Lefton,border Fine Arts, Capodimonte, Country Artists, Miint2 Old Lefton's Miniature Hand Painted Pink Flamingo Bird Plates W Orig StickersVintage Lefton Ceramic Girl Christmas Caroler #072 Pair Of Lefton Hand Painted Lady Figurines Dated 1957Set Of 3 Lefton Christmas Porcelain Girl Figurines Vintage Lefton Dutch Girl Small Creamer Pitcher 2698 JapanVintage Lefton Angel Girl Fall October Stone Flower Bouquet 5 Lefton Cardinal And Holly Christmas Red Bird MugsLefton Thanksgiving Pilgrim Boy & Girl Figurines W/ Intact Labels Free ShippingVintage George Z Lefton Girl Child Figurine #03222 & Twl0175 3pc Ex Condition Lefton November Birthday Girl Of The Month Figurine #1853 Nov Org Sticker JapanLefton 1987 06459 Man In Horse Drawn Carriage Colonial Village Holiday Figure Vintage Lefton Galleries Girl With Chickens Figurine Limited Edition/numberedBeautiful Vintage Little Bo Peep Figurine Hand Painted Lefton ChinaLefton October Birthday Angel, Mid Century, With Devil MaskVintage Lefton China Pair Of White Persian Kitty Cats Figurine With Blue EyesLefton Porcelain White Parrot Bird Figurine # Kw141b Made In Japan Lefton Figurine April Girl #1853Vintage Lefton Dutch Girl Large Pitcher 2701 Lefton February AngelVintage Lefton China Little Bo Peep Lot 2 Pink Figurine Rare Ki698 Ki690Vintage Pair Bisque Porcelain Rabbit Figurines Lefton H880 Hand Painted JapanLefton Colonial Village - Kevin Bank -boy Figurine Hand Painted Porcelain #06550Lefton October Boy Witch Warlock Figure Japan 2300 Broom Pumpkin Blue Eyes! RareVintage Lefton Bob White Quail Figurine-kw2002Lefton Figurine 1983 Beautiful Peacock Kw2336