Last weekend I headed out to an estate sale two towns over from me. I had to map it out so I had some idea of where I was going because it was out in the boondocks – down at least 3 or 4 back roads. These roads were not heavily traveled I realized as I had to stop for some beautiful chickens crossing the narrow, curvy road. I love chickens by the way; their colors and attitude plus their wide diversity in looks. I like to collect things with chickens and roosters. Here’s my egg basket that I love
And here is a picture and a salt shaker I picked up at the thrift store (not Lefton, just loved! I’m getting to the Lefton!)
So I enjoyed watching the chickens cross the road, literally, and was back on my way to this estate sale. When I turned down the final street there were cars lined up and down the grass edge. When I went inside the house, however, the place was so big, I felt like there were only a few people in the house. It was the second day of the sale, so there were not a ton of things left, but I prefer the second day for the deals!
One of the deals I got was this tidbit tray above. I purchased it to put in the Vintage Eve’s shop as it is definitely vintage and I loved the colors. I like to sell stuff that I like myself. Sometimes it’s hard for me to part with them! The colors on this piece are really rich and I love the brass handle. This is what is known as a “tidbit” tray for serving those small items; you know cheese cubes, meat cubes, olives etc.
The company that put out the tidbit tray is Lefton China. As long as I’ve been collecting vintage, I’ve heard of and seen Lefton but had no idea where they started. I once had a great Miss Priss teapot in the shop by the same company. Mine sold but this is what it looked like below. There are other pieces in this line out there, too. It’s one of the lines that Lefton collectors look for.
According to Collector’s Weekly, Lefton China was started in 1941 by a Hungarian sportswear designer named George Zoltan Lefton. He was an importer of items made in post-war Japan. Lefton is known for imported head vases, figurines, and kitchen wares.
All my research says that it is hard to date Lefton because they used their marks for long periods of time and the stickers overlapped timeframes. There are a few time signatures such as if the sticker says “Occupied Japan” you know it was made between 1945 and 1952 since that was the time Japan was required to use that distinction.
Collector’s Weekly says that in the 1970s Lefton started importing from other places such as China, Malaysia, Italy and England. Luckily, Lefton was able to maintain the quality they were known for. So if the sticker is from one of these places, you know your piece was made after 1970.
Another hint is that between 1953 and 1960 you might find the words “Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.” on a sticker. After 1960 they changed that phrase to “Trade Mark.” But as these stickers overlapped in use, so it can still be difficult to date. To help you further date your item, the image below comes from the book “Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay” by Lois Lehner published in 1988 (the link will take you to Amazon – they have used copies by various sellers). I have my own copy of this book and find it quite helpful. I don’t find every manufacturer in it, but it is quite extensive.
What I did find out from Kovels was that “George Lefton died in 1996 and the company was sold in 2002.” Their most collectible pieces are their Miss Priss sets, angel figurines labeled with different months, and Christmas figurines.
I hope this post has helped you date some of your pieces and has broadened your knowledge of an important company from the mid-twentieth century. Let me know if you had a piece of Lefton that brings back memories! I love hearing from my readers and being able to share with you. Have a great week!
I’ll be partying this week at the link parties listed on the right!