By Paul & Debbie Moody
Recent finds have once again provided excitement for the early McCoy stoneware collector. Last summer at the July pottery festival a previously unknown shape in W.F. McCoy stoneware showed up in the McCoy Society’s annual pottery auction. It was a two-gallon, butter churn. The number “2” was hand etched into the clay, rather than the commonly found method of stenciling the size in cobalt under the glaze. It has on both sides, at the top, hand formed and applied, tab handles. The dimensions are 13-inches tall by 7½ inches at the widest point. It does have a little minor damage, but is a magnificently beautiful piece.
The churn was on display for several days leading up to the auction, and produced quite a buzz among the McCoy collectors. As the featured piece, it was the first item to be auctioned. Enthusiastic bidding continued until it finally sold for two thousand dollars. This piece joins the inventory of “known” W. F. McCoy stoneware as the only butter churn found to date.
As mentioned in a previous article in the July 2007 McCoy Society Journal, the real thrill is that on the average one to two pieces of the early “W. F. McCoy” stoneware continue to show up each year. Therefore, this find gives great incentive to continue the hunt. (This piece was included in the inventory listing given last July, but the size was unknown at that time).
Another spectacular find of the very earliest McCoy stoneware was made several months before pottery week, and it was displayed in the McCoy Society’s annual “Show and Tell” during the 2007 Pottery Week. This piece was a second known example of a “Brown and McCoy” stoneware crock.
Referencing previous Society Journals, J.W. McCoy married Sarah Elizabeth Brown in 1870, and they lived in Roseville, Ohio. Sarah’s father was in the mercantile business, and he took J.W. McCoy as a partner. The name of the business was Brown & McCoy. Among other wares they sold pottery inscribed Brown and McCoy, Wholesale distributors in stoneware, Roseville O.
J.W. later produced stoneware marked “W.F. McCoy, Wholesale Dealers in Stoneware, Zanesville O.” for Wilber McCoy’s hardware store around the 1885 time-period.
This second stoneware piece was the same size as the original discovery piece, a number “3” marked, straight-sided crock, with no handles. The “3” was hand written in cobalt, and was very obviously done with a finger. Both “3’s” were identically hand written (although differed in size), suggesting that they very well may have been done by the same person.
This discovery had quite an interesting trek to the home of a McCoy collector. The discoverer had contacted the editor of the McCoy Society’s Journal inquiring about the history
and value. Several collectors verified the authenticity of the crock via photographs, and hoped that it might be available for purchase. The discoverer made no additional contact, and several weeks later, it showed up for sale on eBay. It sold for under its potential value, as the seller failed to include sufficient information, and its pedigree. With only two of these pieces presently known, and being the earliest pieces verified in the McCoy Pottery lineage, their values are potentially well above the later W.F. McCoy pieces.
SO GET OUT THERE AND LOOK – WHO KNOWS WHERE THE NEXT EXCITING PIECE WILL TURN UP!