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 Esd Japan Blue Bird Tea Pot Teapot 7033 Vintage Lefton Ceramic Angel Figurines 2 Boy Girl Xmas Spaghetti Candy Cane TreeLefton Blue Birds Salt & Pepper Shakers, S&pVintage "lefton China" Plaque "bluebird" # 057Vintage Esd Japan (lefton) Miss Priss Kitty Cat Lidded Sugar Bowl ExcellentVintage Christmas Candy Cane Kids Geo Lefton Collection Of 2Outstanding Vintage Lefton Esd Japan Blue Bird Sugar With LidVintage Lefton Set 290 Bluebird Creamer & Sugar Bowl Vintage Lefton Bisque July Birthday Angel With Red Lefton Sticker #3332Vintage 1950's Lefton Baby Christmas Angel Figurine Spaghetti Trim Japan HtfBeautiful Lefton Dutch Girl Butter Dish Vintage Esd Japan (lefton) Miss Priss Kitty Cat Salt & Pepper ExcellentVintage Ceramic Bluebird Figurine Lefton Or Norcrest Cute Mid Century Blue BirdsVintage 1957 Lefton Signed Christmas Girl W/lantern Vintage Christmas Santa 9 1/2" Planter Candy Figure Porcelain Lefton Japan 3657Lefton Dog Figurine N3679 English Bulldog Standing Japan E865 QqVtg Lefton July Birthday Angel Girl Figurine Holding Flower Red Rhinestone1950's Lefton Blue Birds With Hats & Rhinestone Eyes Salt & Peppers #0453 1/4" - Vintage Lefton Christmas Bell - Girl W Bow & Candy Cane On HeadKewpie Lot Of 4 Bisque Figurines 2 Lefton 2 Enesco + With Kewpish Love Bonus!!Vintage Lefton's Scotland / Scottish Boy & Girl Sitting Figurines Bagpipers2 Vtg Lefton Baby Chick Peep Figurines 3 1/2" TallVintage Lefton Ceramic August Birthday Angel Figurine Poppy Peridot 489Vtg 6.5" Lefton Piano Baby Figurine Sitting Toddler Boy Blue Bottle #kw1927Vintage Lefton Birthday Girl Doll " August " Figurine Signed Geo Z. LeftonFour Musical Lefton Angels The Christopher Collection 1982Vintage Saint Bernard Dog Figurine Lefton (?)Lefton Woman Figurine Kw23256 Hand Painted W/ Fan VintageVintage Lefton Kw3209 Hand Painted Roadrunner Figurine Circa 1972Vintage Lefton China Peacock Bird With Feathers Open Figurine Japan Kw 2336Lefton: Colonial Christmas Village - Horse Drawn Sleigh #06460 Vintage Lefton Rabbit Figurine, H880, White Bunny, Japan, 1950s-1960sLefton Rare June Birthday Angel Figurine #985 With Pink Roses, Approx. 5" TallVintage Lefton Girl In Pink Polka Dot Dress Figurine #1450cVintage "lefton" Pair Of White Cats #1514Lefton Christmas AngelsLefton Colonial Man And Woman FigurinesVintage Lefton June Birthday Girl Angel Basket Roses Porcelain Bisque2 Vintage 1957 Joe Lefton Christmas Carolers Figurines - SignedVintage Lefton St. Patricks Day Irish Leprechaun Boy Elf Pixie Waving Sri LankaVintage Lefton St. Patricks Day Irish Leprechaun Boy Elf Pixie Smiling Sri LankaVintage "lefton" "flower Girl Of The Month",april #4200Lefton China 1986 Soaring Hand Painted American Eagle Figurine No. 05402Vintage Lefton China Spaghetti Trim "little Artist" Angel Figurine 808 B RareMint Vintage Lefton Japan Christmas Angel With Violin #6394Pretty Little "lefton China" Swan Ash TrayLefton Music Box W/3 Bears; Plays "lullaby & Goodnight"Vintage Lefton Porcelain "kneeling Golfer" Figurine #x41470 W/ Sticker!!