Lefton China is a highly collectible brand of pottery and porcelain with a history dating back to the late 19th century. The Lefton company, founded in Chicago, dealt with importing pieces from occupied Japan. Lefton’s most sought-after items include dishes, figurines, decorative elements, and even some jewelry.
Despite its short history, Lefton china has been delighting collectors for generations. Not only are these pieces aesthetically pleasing, but the rarest piece can fetch enormous prices at auctions.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most sought-after Lefton china pieces and the unique features that make them so desirable. Additionally, we will provide tips on spotting authentic Lefton china and advice on proper care for these delicate items.
Join us as we take a closer look at this timeless craftsmanship.
The History of Lefton China
To talk about Lefton china first, we must speak of the Lefton company. Founded in the mid-20th century by George Zoltan Lefton, this company located in Chicago mainly imported pieces from all over the world.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America declaring war on Japan, Japanese people in the U.S. faced discrimination. The company was a different one started in 1939 by a Japanese-American businessman friend of George. This friend was called Nunome.
To avoid seeing his family business suffer, Nunome let Lefton run the business until the war’s end. Then, in 1945, he helped Lefton establish the Lefton Company, which dealt with importing pottery and porcelain from occupied Japan.
Back then, people knowing Japanese culture were few and far between, so the company had a lot of success with its unique pieces that could not be found elsewhere.
Lefton china was produced in Japan until the 1980s when production moved to nearby Taiwan and Malaysia. The Lefton family sold the company in 2001, but the buyers kept the company’s name and business running.
Evaluating a Lefton China Piece
The need for collectors to identify a piece’s authenticity has led to an abundance of websites and books providing tips on what to look for. The main reasons to look for a Lefton marking on a piece include identifying the age of the item: determining its authenticity, and assessing its value.
The main thing to look for when assessing authenticity is the markings. Most Lefton pieces have their signature mark stamped or written on the bottom, usually with red paint. The most common marking is the name “Lefton” in a circle, sometimes accompanied by a number that reflects its age.
Sometimes these marks can be challenging to spot, especially if they have been worn away. If you can’t find the mark, it is possible that the piece is not authentic Lefton china.
As far as evaluating a Lefton china piece goes, here’s what you should look at:
- The piece’s conditions: First, check for any chips or cracks that may indicate the piece is not in its original condition. The closer it looks to new, the more valuable it will be.
- The piece’s design: Lefton china pieces were made in various styles and colors. Take note of any unique designs or details, as they can add to the value of a work.
- The piece’s age: As mentioned above, many pieces have numbers indicating their age stamped on them. Lefton china produced before 1980 is more valuable than post-war production from Taiwan or Malaysia.
- The glaze quality: Lefton pieces have a glossy, smooth finish. Any imperfections or blemishes can suggest it isn’t an authentic piece or that the article has been mishandled or cared for improperly.
- The signature mark: As mentioned earlier, Lefton pieces usually have their signature mark stamped or written on the bottom. Be sure to look for this, as it is the most certain way to determine authenticity.
Here’s a video showcasing the entire evaluation process. It talks about all sorts of china items, and it applies to Lefton china as well:
Now that you know how to at least give a ballpark estimate of a Lefton china piece’s value, let’s move on to the most valuable Lefton china pieces.
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The 10 Most Valuable Lefton China Pieces
Lefton china pieces that have survived in excellent condition and feature unique designs are the most sought-after. Their rarity, combined with their desirability, gives them a high resale value.
Here is a list of the 10 most valuable Lefton china pieces:
Vintage Geo Z Lefton China Bluebird Planter / Vase #288 – $170
This planter/vase was made by Lefton China in the 1950s under the Geo Z copyright. It features a hand-painted bluebird in style reminiscent of famous Disney movies from the time.
The condition is excellent, with no chips or cracks that would make it less desirable. The bright and vibrant colors make this a perfect addition to any Lefton china collection. It’s also an excellent piece for display in your home, as its size is not too imposing (6 inches) nor too small.
The vibrant yet elegant colors make this piece suitable for any decor, making it an excellent investment for anyone looking for an eye-catching element to add to their home.
Rare Antique Lefton China Statue Figurine of Saint Joseph, Blessed Virgin Mary, Child Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Holy Family – $249
This is a Lefton china piece from the company’s earliest days, as it was made in 1939. It features a hand-painted representation of the holy family, with Saint Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Child Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
The colors are still vivid after all these years, as it has been well preserved. There is no wear or tear in any of them, making it an excellent addition to anyone’s Lefton collection, especially those collecting religious items.
It’s an excellent purchase for anyone wanting to add religious memorabilia to their living space or collection.
Lefton Teapot Heritage Brown (Fruit) NE 3113 4 Cup Vintage With Label RARE – $325
This teapot is a rare Lefton china piece from the end of World War 2. The design features fruit-inspired motifs, perfect for adding color to your morning cup of tea! You can find this in the Heritage Brown series, an iconic collection of Lefton China pieces.
The condition is excellent, with no cracks or chips in sight. This teapot still has its original label, a stamp of authenticity that makes it even more desirable to collectors. The size is perfect for brewing four 8-ounce cups of tea. This is ideal for any Lefton china enthusiast who loves to entertain.
It’s also an excellent piece for display. The attractive fruit motifs will bring life to any shelf or countertop.
Vintage Lefton China Heritage Green Pink Roses Tea Set Hand Painted 19 Pieces – $359.99
This tea set is a rare and highly sought-after piece from the 1950s. The design features beautiful pink roses adorned with green leaves and lines, creating an elegant contrast of colors perfect for any setting.
The condition is excellent, with minor imperfections on the plates that have some scratches. Still, overall, the set is in pristine condition. The collection contains 19 pieces, ranging from a teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer to cups and saucers. All 19 details are hand-painted, making this an exquisite set perfect for any Lefton collector.
The set is also a great choice if you want to add elegance to your table setting. The soft colors will make any tea time even more special and memorable.
Lefton Vintage Teapot Thumbelina Honey Pot Pixie – $379.92
This Thumbelina honey pot pixie was made in the 1960s. It features an innovative design featuring Thumbelina, the protagonist of the famous fairy tale who eventually got its own anime adaptation (but that was much later!).
The teapot is made of porcelain and hand-painted with vivid colors to make it look even more magical. The condition is excellent, with no chips or cracks visible on it. The colors have remained vibrant over time, making this teapot a superb addition to anyone’s collection at a reasonable price.
It is in excellent condition, free from any chips or cracks. This makes it perfect for a decorative item in your house or as a teapot.
VINTAGE EHTF LEFTON CHINA KW1634 MERMAID WALL POCKET / PLAQUE – $389
This beautiful wall pocket/plaque is a Lefton China EHTF (Early Hand Thrown) piece from the late 1940s. It features a beautiful mermaid on the front with intricate details, including scales and fins.
The plaque condition is excellent, with no chips or cracks visible anywhere. Indeed, it is dubbed as being in mint condition. It comes in its original vibrant colors, with the mermaid’s hair in silver, her tail fins painted in gold, and its scales painted in pink.
The piece would fit any wall or shelf perfectly, as its size is not too small (about 9 inches in length) nor too big. And it also suits any style, from modern to classic.
1950s Vintage Lefton China Oriental Asian Dancer Ceramic Pair Figurine Object – $519
These two figurines of Asian dancers were made in the 1950s. As with every figure out of occupied Japan, these are made with great attention to detail. They feature a detailed look, with the dancers wearing typical oriental clothing and accessories.
The figurines have been well-preserved throughout their lives, with only minor age-related wear visible. The colors remain vivid, and the details sharp, making them stand out in any setting.
These are an excellent purchases for someone looking to add style and oriental flair to their home. Plus, they come at a great price considering their age and condition.
Vintage Miss Priss Coin Bank | Mid-Century Lefton China Porcelain Piggy Bank – $698
Miss Priss is the perfect addition to anyone’s Lefton china collection. This mid-century porcelain piggy bank features an adorable kitty designed with the iconic hand-painted pastel colors of the Leftons’ time.
The piece is in excellent condition with no chips or cracks and has kept its pastel colors intact over time. There are minor imperfections like glaze pops on its left cheek and extra porcelain on the right eye, but these don’t affect the pieces looks much.
It’s worth the price tag if you’re looking for something special to add to your collection.
LEFTON COACH W/TWO HORSES # 834 – $1,200
This is a beautiful coach pulled by 2 horses with a kid angel driver. It was made right after the end of WW2. It stands over 8 inches tall and is made out of porcelain. This item has a very unique design and adds an interesting touch to any collection. It’s also quite versatile — you can use it as a decoration, or even more typically, to hold small items like coins.
The condition is excellent, judging from the pictures, which helps explain the piece’s high value. This is a piece any serious Lefton china collector can’t and shouldn’t miss.
Vintage Lefton China Mushroom Forest Cookie Jar, Salt/Pepper Shaker, 6 mugs set – $1,295
This set comes with a cookie jar, 6 matching mugs, a salt/pepper shaker, and a stand for all 6 cups.
The pieces are porcelain and feature an adorable ‘mushroom forest’ theme. The story behind this theme is that one of Lefton’s key designers, George Lefton, created it to reflect the incredible scenery he experienced while visiting Japan. It’s estimated to be from the 1950s or 60s, making it one of the earlier Lefton pieces ever made.
As the seller tells us, the pieces have almost no flaws, as they’ve exclusively been used for exhibition. There is a minor imperfection on the cookie jar’s lid, but that’s about it.
This is a solid purchase for anyone looking to upgrade their living room with some fun and unique Lefton china pieces.
Lefton China is a highly collectible brand of pottery and porcelain, with pieces ranging from figurines to tea sets. We’ve explored some of the most valuable Lefton china pieces and discussed their unique features and tips on how to spot authentic Lefton china items.
The beauty of these items is that they are perfect for adding a special touch to any home. Lefton China will surely bring a delightful charm to your space, whether you’re looking for a statement piece or something more understated.
And if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of affordable Lefton China items. So if you’re looking for a beautiful and affordable piece, Lefton China is definitely worth exploring.
Plus, with proper care, these delicate items will remain in perfect condition for years.