An Uncommon Ashtray

By Ima Pott

The Nelson McCoy Pottery, from 1962 until 1964, produced the 7-inch square ashtray shown at the top left. The name the company gave it is Diamond Ashtray, and it came in three colors, Bronze, Yellow, or Green. All of the colors have a White frosting around the top edge. The entirely glazed bottom is marked McCoy USA, as shown to the right. While the ashtray is not too plentiful, it is shown in one of the McCoy reference books.

The ashtray shown on the bottom left is identical to the one above it from a top view, except that it has two cigarette rests rather than one. The bottom, as shown, has a dry perimeter, and together with the other features, it is quite different. There is no mark. This ashtray is generally unknown to collectors, and it is not shown in the company catalogs, or in the McCoy reference books.

The question arises – Is this ashtray a predecessor of the one above it, and was it ever put into commercial production? One factor might give us a clue. As mentioned above, the glaze colors listed in the catalog are Bronze, Yellow, or Green. There is no mention of the White frosting. However, the catalog pictures plainly shown the frosting. This is not the case with the lower ashtray. The example shown here is a solid Bronze, without any frosting.

It may be that this ashtray with its double cigarette rest was the design intended for production, and a production difficulty occurred to foil the plan. During the re-design process, a decision was made to add the White frosting. A picture of the new design was then inserted into the upcoming catalog, but the text listing the colors was not revised.

Of course, this is conjecture, but one thing seems obvious. The ashtray with the double cigarette rest is a more complex design, and it is more prone to casting problems. Additionally, smoothing the dry ring to enable the ashtray sit evenly added another step in the production process. Everything considered, my money is going with the idea that the double rest ashtray was the initial design, and at most, it was a very low production piece.