My World Wednesday: Christmas Dishes

I have good Christmas china that I use for Christmas dinner and pretty and practical Christmas dishes from Correll that I use for every day in December. But my favorite Christmas dishes are the ones in the photo. An overall green holly pattern with bright red berries gives these dishes their festive look. The plates are scalloped on the edges to resemble a holly leaf.

This china wasn’t sold in fine department stores; it came from the local 5 & 10 back in the 1960s through the early 1970s. It was manufactured by the Lefton Company.

George Zoltan Lefton, a Hungarian immigrant, founded his company in 1941. When the US wanted to help rebuild Japan after World War II, Lefton was one of the first in line to sign up to have the Japanese make his products. Early pieces are marked “Made in Occupied Japan.”

The holly dishes have small red stickers on the bottom of each piece saying “Lefton China.” Because the dishes were washed by hand and used only on special occasions, the stickers are often still visible. The pieces were packed in green boxes decorated with holly leaves. They were usually packed away with the rest of the Christmas things in these protective boxes and that’s how they are found today.

My original dishes belonged to my mother. Or maybe I should say that they belong to my mother. She never actually gave them to me but what’s that saying, possession is 9/10s of the law? (Hi, Mom!)

Through the years, my husband, the inveterate collector, began spotting pieces at yard sales, flea markets and antique stores. There are still plenty of them around but since eBay, the prices have risen significantly.

The photo shows only a tiny portion of our dishes. We have many little trays and candy holders, covered bowls and boxes. There are several sleighs and reindeer available. We even have several pieces that we’re not certain of their function. A rotating Christmas tree pierced with holes to hold something or perhaps it was a pomander of some kind and a lantern without a spot to put a candle are two of our mystery pieces.

The Lefton Company made some really kitschy things in its heyday and they are all considered collectible today. If you have some little figurines or knickknacks, turn them over and look for the Lefton name. Lefton was bought by OMT Enterprises a few years ago and now exists in California.

If you come to my house for Christmas Tea, you can be sure I’ll be using these dishes.