Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brief History of Inarco, Lefton, and Napco


This porcelain egg was produced by the International Art Ware Corporation in the early 1960’s. It is designed with ornate and floral lines all around the piece in the colors blue, gold, and white. The top is molded like an egg that has been cracked open and is hollow inside. The bottom is footed and marked with Inarco Japan and the number E-3131. This piece is free from chips, cracks, crazing, or loss of paint and measures 5 inches tall and 11 inches around.


The Inarco Company known as International Art Ware Corporation started in Cleveland Ohio, and was founded by Irwin Garber in 1960. The company began with the name International Art ware Corporation, better known as INARCO. A designer by trade, Garber had a penchant for the artistic side of figurines; indeed, his own wife, Roselle, is believed to have been a model for a number of the company's head vases. In its beginnings, the company imported ceramic and glass floral containers and giftware. In 1986, INARCO moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after it was purchased by Japanese giftware distributor, Napco.

The Lefton Company was founded in 1041 by George Lefton. He was a Hungarian immigrant who arrived in Chicago in 1939. Although his background was in marketing and designing specialty clothing, he had a passion for collecting fine porcelain. Lefton traveled to Japan in 1945 to seal an importing agreement and the first Lefton China product marked "Made in Occupied Japan" reached the United States in 1946.


Over the years the Lefton Company has produced numerous products that are highly sought after by collectors including: cookie jars, holiday items, figurines, teapots, jam jars, planters, pitchers, shakers, Red Hat pieces, wall pockets, head vases and lighthouses. At one point in time, over 10,000 retail shops carried Lefton products nationwide.

Vintage Lefton products have a wide variety of marks and many times a paper label. Marks include the words Lefton, Lefton China, Geo. Z. Lefton, G.Z.L., as well as just the letter "L".
The Lefton Company was purchased by OMT Enterprises in 2005 and moved to California. Today's Lefton products include the ever popular Lighthouse series and adorable Christopher girl birthday figurines. Some vintage Lefton pieces are ornate with gold trim, lots of flowers and look like they might have been made two centuries ago, or perhaps a collector might be drawn to the cute and whimsical salt and pepper shakers or wall pockets that are the stuff of the 1950s. It's all appealing to vintage collectors and today's lighthouses are just as avidly collected by folks who are most likely not aware of the rich history of the Lefton Company.

The NAPCO Company or National Potteries Corporation is located in Bedford, OH and began production of Porcelain and Glass in 1938. Ceramic pieces sold by Napco (National Potteries Corporation) are distinctive and popular again today. Since its prolific output of the 1950s and 1960s, Napco has held the interest of collectors because the ceramic items are consistently well-designed.

Owned and operated in the Midwest, Napco distributed a variety of collectibles, including decorative wall accessories, ashtrays, ceramic and wood house wares, floral arrangements, ceramic planters, decorative glass, novelty figurines, mugs, trivets, and Christmas ceramics. Napco used a wide array of marks for its head vases—some transfer marks and some paper labels. The paper labels feature various wording, such as: "A Napco Collection," "Napco originals by Giftware," "National Potteries Co., Cleveland, OH, Made in Japan," and "Napcoware, Import Japan."

1 comment:

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