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 Blue Bird Salt And Pepper Shaker Set Nice!Geo Lefton Christmas Candy Cane Elf Pixie Girl Figurine Bell Peppermint HollyLefton Miss Priss Four Cup Teapot In Mint Condition For The Cat LoverLefton's Miss Priss Cat Covered Cheese Dish -rare FindGeo Z Lefton Merry Christmas Angels Kids On Candy Cane Sleigh 626Vtg Lefton Japan #303 Pixie Elf Figurine Xmas Holly Blonde Spaghetti Hair Rare 1950’s Vintage Lefton Blue Bird TeapotVintage Lefton Japan Pink Poodle Dog TeapotRare 1957 Original Lefton Label October Halloween Angel Signed 1987j Glued WingVintage Norcrest Baby Bluebirds On Branch Figurine Blue Bird LeftonVintage Lefton Miss Priss Kitty Cat Spoon Rest HolderVintage Norcrest Or Lefton? Owl Figurine3 Vintage Christmas Assortment Angels Figurines George Lefton Vacago Vtg 1956 Lefton Christmas Figurines "naughty Sisters" Bells Girl Angel OrnamentsVintage Lefton Rare Set (4) Porcelain Christmas Musical Marching Band FigurinesVintage Lefton Miss Priss Teapot Shaped Kitty Cat Tea Bag HolderVintage Old Antique Lefton Miss Priss Kitty Cat Kitten Blue Creamer #1508Vintage Lefton Japan Irish Girl St Patrick's Day Shamrock Figurine Lot Of 2 #403Vintage Lefton Cat Bookends 03936b-glass Eyes-original Tag Hard-2-find Euc3 Vintage Geo Z Lefton Christmas Candy Cane Peppermint Elf Pixie Figurines A+Vintage 1957 Geo. Z Lefton "elements" Sun FigurineVintage Lefton March Pal Boy Angel Figurine Of Month 1600 Tux JapanVintage 1950's Lefton "february" Box Angel Figurine Shoveling SnowLefton Porcelain Provincial Bisque Colonial Man & Woman Figurines Kw7223Vintage Lefton(?) Black Angus Bull FigurineVintage Lefton Ceramic White Bunny Rabbit Figurine Japan H880 With LabelVintage Lefton A1943 "little Bo Peep" Figurine Vintage 1955 Lefton December Angel Holding Stars In Frame 4" NumberedLefton Display Sign For FigurinesLovely Vintage Lefton Japan Christmas Blue & White Mary & Baby Jesus 2 AngelsVintage Lefton (?) Japan Rhino Rhinoceros FigurineVintage Lefton Porcelain January Snowdrop Garnet Angel Figurine Geo Z Lefton2 Vintage Lefton Green Christmas Holly Berry Reindeer Figurine Sleigh Pair MintAntique Art Pottery Lefton 6" Lady Head Vases Faux Pearl Earrings Necklaces VgcVintage Lefton Figurines Rabbits Lambs Ducks EtcVintage Lefton Hand Painted Bird Canister #4856/ Made In JapanVintage Lot Of 3 Lady Headvases-lefton, Barbara And One Unmarked With FlowersVintage Lefton 'june' Pearl Birthday Angel Figurine #489Lefton Hummingbird Porcelain Figure 1986 No. 11366 Excellent ConditionVintage Lefton Angel Rose Pearl June Figure # 489Lefton China Hand Painted Porcelain Small Boy & Girl Pilgrim Figurine # 03114Vintage Ceramic Lefton Kewpie Doll/figure #02132Vintage Lefton (?) Japan Female Deer With Her Fawn FigurineLefton March Birthday Boy With KiteLefton Vintage Shaggy Dog Salt & Pepper ShakersVintage Lefton's Lefton Nurse Figurine Maternity Nurse Holding Baby Japan Kw1627Vintage Lefton Japan Ceramic Christmas Kissing Santa Mrs Claus Figurine BenchVintage Lefton Bisque "may Birthday" Girl W/big FlowerLefton Girl With Basket Fruit & Flower Bouquet Music Box5 Imperfect Vintage Lefton Ruffled Petticoat Girl FigurinesVintage Piano Baby Style Figurine Lefton China Hp Boy With Bottle #kw19271982-lefton Christopher Collection"love Makes All Things Beautiful" FigurineLefton Girl With Bunny Music BoxVintage Lefton #05019 Angel Figurines ~ Set Of 2 ~ Green & Pink ~ Holiday