The History of the Nelson McCoy Pottery
By Dewayne Imsand
In 1910, Nelson McCoy Sr., with help from his father and along with five stockholders, established the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Company in Roseville, Ohio. The pottery produced utilitarian stoneware and operated successfully until about 1919. At that time the pottery joined with eleven other stoneware potteries and formed the American Clay Products Company, which was located in Zanesville, Ohio. All of the member potteries produced stoneware to be marketed by the new company. The ACPC produced sales catalogs of the wares that were produced, which purposely had no trademark, and had salesmen to advertise and take orders. The pottery orders received by the company were shared among the different potteries based on production capability, and the revenue received was proportionally distributed.
The ACPC thrived until January 1926, at which time the company was liquidated. The demise of the company released the former member potteries to once again become independent and they became in direct competition with one another. Also around this time the demand for utilitarian stoneware was beginning to decrease.
In order to re-establish it own identity, and also to reflect the changing times, the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Co., by 1929, had changed its name to the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co. Additionally, it was around this time that the company began the practice of marking its wares. No evidence has been found that the company had ever marked any of its wares prior to this time. In 1933, in response to a further decreased demand for food and sanitary wares, and an increased demand for decorative pieces, the name of the pottery was changed again. The pottery became simply, the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co.
Nelson McCoy Sr., Nelson Melick, and later Nelson McCoy Jr., in turn, operated the pottery for 57 years until it was sold in 1967 to the owners of the Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., although Nelson McCoy Jr. remained as president of the pottery. After about seven years of operation the Lancaster Colony Corporation purchased the pottery in 1974. In 1981 Nelson McCoy Jr. retired. In 1985, the pottery was sold once again, this time to Designer Accents of New Jersey. Some months earlier, Designer Accents had acquired two other potteries, Holiday Designs of Sebring, Ohio and their Sebring Studios division. Designer Accents also acquired the Sunstone Pottery of Cambridge, Ohio.
All production at these potteries was moved to the Nelson McCoy Pottery. The production of some of the wares formerly produced was continued, and other wares were discontinued. The ware formerly produced by Holiday Designs, being lower priced items, was discontinued, while the higher priced wares from Sebring Studios were continued for some time. The ware produced under the name Sebring Studios was marked with only a style number.
Selected items previously made by the McCoy pottery, and some newly designed items, were marketed by Designer Accents under the name Nelson McCoy Ceramics. Some of these items have the familiar McCoy name on them. The Floraline line with its distinctive mark, first produced by the Nelson McCoy Pottery in 1960, was also continued.
Designer Accents operated for about five years until late 1990 when the doors were finally closed. The portion of the pottery containing the offices burned in the fall of 1991.