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 Red Bow Candy Cane Girl Bell Figurine Striped Blonde X-mas Cute!!Vintage Geo. Z. Lefton Bluebird #288 Planter Anthromorphic - As IsVintage Lefton? Mermaid Figurine Sleeping MermaidVintage Lefton "miss Priss" Sugar Bowl With Lid, Blue Cat Floral Hat Japan 1508Set Of 3 Vintage 1950s 1960s Signed Lefton Christmas Boy Elves Pixies Figurines 1950's Geo Z Lefton Blue Bird Salt Pepper Shakers Anthropomorphic Bluebird #282Vintage Lefton China Blue Bird,bluebird Creamer, Lid For Sugar Bowl-l@@k!Vintage Lefton Yellow Fairy Pixie Butterfly Girl Japan Ceramic FigurineVintage Lefton Pink Butterfly Fairy Pixie Girl Figurine JapanVintage 1956 Lefton Girl & Boy In Pumpkins Salt & Pepper Shakers - Nice!!Lefton Christmas Angel Bells, Set Of 4 Vintage Lefton Pink Butterfly Fairy Pixie Girl Ceramic Figurine JapanLefton China A4307 4th Of July Birthday Angel Patriotic Vintage Kitty Cat On Piano Salt & Pepper Shaker Set Lefton ? #440 - MintVintage Ceramic Planter Of Girl With Basket, LeftonVintage Lefton's Mint Dress Christmas Angel Bell With Presents Gifts SpaghettiVintage Geo Z. Lefton Puppy Under Dress Christmas Angel Bell Choir With BookVintage Pixie Elf Fairy Trinket Dresser Box Days Of The Week Napco Lefton JapanLefton Figurine -- Sweet Christmas GirlAdorable Vintage Lefton Blonde Girl Tea PotVintage 1950's Lefton Spaghetti Christmas Angel Bell + Choir Boy Girl W/ PackageVintage Lefton Norcrest Anthropomorphic Yellow Duck Chick Figurine 33041997 Lefton Porcelain Female Nurse With Baby Figurine With Label Srn 11140 NrGorgeous~lefton Angel Figure~4 1/2"Lefton Japan China Figurine Of Donkey, Paper LabelVintage Lefton Birth Month Angel February Violet Amethyst Birthstone FigurineLarge Lot Of 7 Vintage Porcelain Dog Animal Figurines Lefton, Mortens Studio Lefton China Hand Painted Figurine Girl With Basket Of Flowers Vtg. Lefton January Birthday Month Angel Porcelain Figurine~kw3332~japan TagLot Of 3 Lefton China Hand Painted Angel And Devil FigurinesVintage Lefton Kitty Cat Porcelain FigurineLefton Figurine Mary, Baby Jesus And 2 AngelsVintage Lefton Birth Month Angel July Water Lily Ruby Birthstone Figurine JapanLefton Smokey Bear Figurine With 2 CubsLefton China ~ Handpainted Figurines ~ Pinky And Blue Boy ~ Kw 387 Limited Ed.Lefton Girl Playing Tennis With White Kitten 1983 3" BlondeLefton China Figurine Doll Blue Dutch Girl With Basket Vtg Bone China Miniature October Birthday Girl Figurine Holding Flower Lefton? Vintage 4" Lefton Christmas Girl Figurine @ Christmas Tree Japan Bright RedsVintage 1990 Lefton Holiday Green Elf Pixie Figurine -bisque CeramicVintage George Z. Lefton Boy Figurine "i Would Like To Be" Fireman 050 Htf 1957 Beautiful Hand Painted Lefton China Pink Lady FigurineVintage Lefton "miss Priss" Salt Shaker Single, Blue Cat Floral Hat Japan 1511Vtg Lefton China Figurine #02044 October Birthday Girl Hand Painted 1970sVintage Lefton China Bisque Angel Birthday Girl, March Marked #kw130 1957Lefton China Hand Painted Kw909 Seagull Figurine Excellent Used Condition Lefton Mocking Bird Kw 4954 PorcelainLefton China A 163 Japan Vintage White Cat Kitten Too CuteLefton Music Box Girl Figurine Plays Raindrops Keep Falling On My HeadLefton Porcelain Bird Figurine Kw 7020 Made In Japan