The History of Josef Originals Collectibles

The designing power behind Josef Originals, from all of the cute animals to the charming dolls, was Muriel Joseph George, a resident of Southern California.

Muriel Joseph George and Josef Originals, Southern California
Before the Second World War, Muriel Joseph was a jewelry maker, producing Lucite jewelry under "Muriel of California." World War II changed all of that. Lucite was largely unavailable to the public during the War, so Joseph turned to making jewelry from ceramics. She also started making clay models.

Muriel's fiancé, Tom George, returned to Southern California at the end of the war but was unable to work. During his hiatus, George started making molds of Joseph's models. Ultimately, the two married, and in 1946 started producing California ceramics under the name Josef Originals.

Southern California to Japan
Josef Originals was one of the many ceramics producers who opened in Southern California and across the United States in response to the postwar prosperity. And, like all of the other ceramics producers in the United States, Josef Originals suffered when cheap imitations started being imported from Japan.

Muriel stepped up to the challenge by producing finer ceramics. However, since these ceramics cost even more, Josef Originals continued to lose sales to Japanese imports.

In 1959, after forming a partnership with George Good, a representative and distributor of other California ceramics producers, Muriel and Tom traveled to Japan to train workers at the Katayama factory to produce Josef Originals. The days of producing Josef Originals in California were over.

The Japan years
Business boomed again for Josef Originals. Muriel remained active in Josef Originals for another twenty-odd years, designing mice, dogs, elephants and other cute animals, as well as some of her more famous lines, until she retired in 1981.

Cute animals, charming dolls, delightful Christmas characters: The lines
What were some of the more popular lines created by Muriel for Josef Originals?

  • Dolls of the Month Series-A doll for every month of the year.
  • Days of the Week Series-Dolls for every day of the week.
  • Little Pet Series-Children with pets.
  • Birthday Girls Series-Dolls for every year from newborn to 21.
  • Birthstone Dolls Series-Girls with dresses the same color as birthstones.
  • Career Series-Showing careers such as teachers and nurses.
  • All sorts of Christmas figurines.

Muriel also designed some very cute animals:

  • The Ostrich Family-Mama, Papa, and Babies
  • Elephants
  • Persian Cats
  • Froggies
  • Mice! Mice! Mice!

Some of the more popular Josef Originals were mice, more than 40 different characters. You might find mice characters blowing bubble gum bubbles, eating cheese or singing. Other mice characters include nurses, proud papas and graduates. Josef Originals lines included mice galore!

The name
Yes, there is a story behind the name "Josef Originals." The name was supposed to be spelled "Joseph," but the printer made a mistake on the first set of labels that were ordered. It was too late to change the labels. The orders were in and the ceramics had to be shipped. So, "Josef Originals" was born.

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