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    

Vintage Lefton ~ Bluebird ~ Egg Cup ~ 7174 ~ Great Color ~ Big EyeColorful Old Unused Lefton Comic Blue Bird Salt & Pepper Shaker Set With BonusVintage Lefton Christmas Ceramic Shopper Girl Candy Cane Runners2 Vintage Lefton 1970/71 Green Christmas Pottery Holly Berry Reindeer FigurinesAdorable Vtg Pair Geo. Z. Lefton Bluebird Salt & Pepper Shakers #282 As Is13 Vintage Birthday Angel Figurines-lefton JapanVintage Lefton Arabian Horse Porcelain FigurineVtg Lefton 22191 Anthropomorphic Chick Chicken Bird With Books Glasses S&p ShakeLefton Dainty Miss Planter Girl With Beach Ball #056 Dated 1957 - 6 " Geo Lefton 1994 Colonial Christmas Village 01347 Horse Driven O'douls Ice2 Geo Lefton 1999 Christmas Village 12224 A&c Children Christmas Tree-no BoxVintage 1950s Geo Lefton Bride & Groom Bell Figurine Japan Wedding Cake TopperVintage Lefton Ceramic Angel Figurine Boy Christmas Package Presents2 Lefton Poinsettia Girls #6854 Vintage Porcelain Japan Christmas Candle HolderAdorable Pair Of Vintage Bloomer Girl Lefton Figurines Signed K1412 Geo Z LeftonVintage Lefton Standardbred Horse Porcelain Figurine Mid 1900sGeo Lefton 1993 Colonial Christmas Village 00975 Horse Driven AmbulanceVintage Lefton Christmas Girl Angel Music Box Plays "silent Night" #2948Angel Elf With Sheer Fabric Wings Figurine Vintage Napco Lefton Japan - Euc #9 Lefton China Vintage Angel 808c Hand Painted ***excellent Condition!***Vintage Handpainted Lefton Christmas Little Girl With Baby Bear Figurine 8284 Geo Lefton 1993 Christmas Village 00962 Horse-no Box 3 Vtg Hand Painted Lefton & Andrea Figurines Victorian Lady And Men Elaine Kewpie Baby Dolls Lefton Porcelain - 6 Baby Figurines - JapanVintage Lefton Frog/toad Realistic Figurine 1960-1983 Porcelain Vintage Lefton Figurine #6343 Boy Of The Month Series JanuaryLefton Figurine - Child In Bunny PajamasVintage Lefton Valentine Day Pink Girl Figurine Red Heart Dress Bonnet #1435Geo Lefton Christmas Colonial Village Sean O'doule Ice Man 01338 Vintage Lefton Christmas Deer Fawn Figurine 3 Geo Lefton 2000 Christmas Village 13520 Children Woman Dog Carolers-no BoxVintage Dog Planter - Spaniel - Lefton Vintage Hand Painted Porcelain Lefton St Joseph With Child Religious FigurineVintage Lefton Porcelain Angel Figurine March Birthday Daffodil Aquamarine #489Vintage Lefton China Little Devil Boy Playing Tennis FigurineLefton Bluejay Figurine - # 02203 - Nest Egg CollectionLefton's Exclusive Small Asian Boy Figurine With RhinestonesLefton Vintage Infant Of Prague W Rhinestones Lace Collar Cuffs Figurine Lefton - Baby Snow Bird Figurine - Kw1637 - Hand Painted Lefton - Baby Blue Jay Figurine - Kw1637 - Hand PaintedGeo Lefton 1992 Christmas Village 00658 Little Girl SledVintage Pair Lefton "ring Neck Pheasants" Figurines