Have You Seen 'The Real' McCoy?

Once commonplace, McCoy pottery has gained popularity among collectors.

Having been produced in Putman, Zanesville and then Roseville, Ohio, from 1848 to the early 1980s, Pennsylvania is a great place to find pieces of  "the real" McCoy Pottery.

In the early 1970s one could look in any garage, at an estate sale or under a table in a box at a flea market and buy a piece of McCoy for 25 cents for a planter to $5 for a cookie jar. Now however, these pieces have moved from under the tables onto the tables at antique shows and into collectors' shelves proudly on display.

McCoy pottery started with the W. Nelson McCoy company in 1848 by producing crude stoneware in the form of crocks and jars. Initially they produced these items for local farmers but soon realized they could ship them down rivers to the South on barges. The company grew and became successful from there, as did its initial owner who became mayor of Zanesville. The original crocks and jars were marked W. F. McCoy, Wholesale Dealer in Stoneware, Zanesville, Ohio 1848 and these are very rare due to the challenges of mass producing hand-turned, wood-fired kiln stoneware.

In 1890, J.W. McCoy, the son of W. Nelson McCoy, opened a factory in Roseville, Ohio. In 1910 his son opened a factory in Roseville called the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company. 

McCoy is known for it's varied glazes, quirky planters, stunning vases, cookie jars, canister sets, and huge line of unique pottery pieces. Various marks can tell the exact dates of manufacture and certain lines were only produced for limited times during operation of the company. Some of their lines included in their stoneware were crocks, jars, foot warmers and poultry warmers. They made bird baths, jardinieres with pedestals in various designs, hanging planters, umbrella stands and large two handled oil jars. The McCoy art pottery line Loy-Nel can compete with the best and more expensive lines that the Weller and Roseville pottery companies produced.

Cookie jars are a favorite of many collectors and along those lines McCoy offers a huge variety of collectible cookie jars from a very valuable and slightly rare Indian head to a cast iron stove cookie Jar. Many McCoy cookie jars were decorated with a "cold paint" process. If you find a cookie jar that has paint loss, do not scrape off the remaining paint. Although the value is lessened with paint loss, the paint should be preserved as much as possible.

More commonly, one will find vases, planters, and cookie jars locally. Most McCoy pieces are marked with McCoy or McCoy USA.

After over 100 years and a few different factories, production stopped in the 1980s but even through the prices have gone up steadily throughout the years, many people all over the country are actively searching for pieces to add to their collections. If you look around in Grandma's basement, attend a yard sale or flea market you may still be able to find a real McCoy of your own.

Mary Beth Kovic August 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Very interesting article. It'll be fun to look for these when out and about! Thanks, Mary!
Linden Martinez August 29, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Great article. Thanks for the education!
robert t August 29, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Neat article. Just saw some large pieces of pottery at Trader Jack's this weekend-- they were marked "McCoy". Now I know what they were about!
teresa caprio August 29, 2011 at 08:30 PM
robert t! Next time pick up a piece. They are great fun to collect. You can find books on McCoy and then the fun really begins!! Mary knows LOTS about McCoy. Mary likes to make antiquing fun AND profitable!!


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