The Official Web Site of the

McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society

Dedicated to the Service of McCoy Pottery Collectors Everywhere

Early Lily Wall Pockets

Archive for the ‘Article’ Category

Early Lily Wall Pockets

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Butterfly Wall Pocket

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Krugs Baking Company

Monday, March 19th, 2018


Sunday, March 4th, 2018


Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Mexican Wall Pocket

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Nelson McCoy Pottery Wall Pockets

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017


Monday, January 11th, 2016


By Jim Powers

For those of you who were not able to make it to the convention/reunion in Zanesville this last July, one of the displays in our “Show & Tell” segment was two small McCoy Vases along with examples produced with aluminum material.  The two aluminum vases shown were made of recycled aluminum by the (now defunct) Aluminum Pottery Co of Devon PA.  The letter and catalog sheet included here, generously supplied by the McCoy family, confirm these facts.

Also, it appears some of these pieces were evidently made for, or sold to the L.L. Bean Company in Maine around 1999/2000.  The first two examples shown were found in an antique mall “Down East” Maine in the fall of 2014, which makes sense in light of a likely retailing agreement with L. L. Bean.  A month later a second copy of one of them showed up on eBay, and found its way to Massachusetts as well.

As you can see in the photos, the bottoms of these two vases are flat with no markings. However, the vase with the vertical leaves and berries does have a sticker on the bottom noting it was made by the Aluminum Pottery Co. of Devon PA.  It further states it is made from recycled aluminum.  Also shown in the photos are the bottom styles of the McCoy vases, both made with dry bottom styles and one also made with a McCoy mark; see photo.  The “real” McCoy’s are slightly taller, whereas the aluminum copies are much, much, heavier.  Prior to the Show and Tell segment, I had some fun tossing the vases to some of our members to check them out in my room.  You should have seen the double surprised look on their faces.  First when they thought I was tossing a piece of pottery around carelessly and then disbelief when they felt the weight of the vase in their hand!  A good laugh followed when they realized there was no danger in one of them breaking if it fell on the bed, or the carpeted floor.





































page 2 pic 1page 2 pic 2








In the catalog sheet from the Aluminum Pottery Company, you can see that they called this group of products their “Art Pottery Vase Collection”.  As shown, there are a couple other McCoy shape designs which are not included in this article and also some pieces from other Pottery Companies so this was not exclusive to McCoy Pottery designs.

Below is another Vase example from this aluminum collection owned by one of our members.  You can see this one is also included in the catalog sheet images.

Page 2 BottomPage 2 Bottom 2












Page 2 Bottom 3











These photos are another example of one of these aluminum vases modeled after a piece of McCoy Pottery.  The interesting characteristic on this one is that it actually carries some markings on the bottom.  The markings are the APC initials for the Aluminum Pottery Company and then what looks like a “D6” mark.  At this time we do not know what that designation means. It might be a style number or catalog number.  However, the specific pieces on the catalog sheet shown in this article have designations beginning with the letter “V” so we may never have an answer to that question for sure.

Page 3


Page 3 2












I attempted to find out additional information on the Aluminum Pottery Company, but apparently it has ceased to exist.  Calls to the local Chamber of Commerce found no historical information as well.  If anyone has any additional information on these vases, or the company, I would be pleased to hear more about them.

 Of course, in the meantime I’m keeping an eye open for any of the other examples of these Heavy Metal McCoy’s.













RB Marked Pieces

Thursday, January 7th, 2016


By Craig Nissen

One of the 2015 Society banquet presentations was on the topic of the “RB” marked pieces made by McCoy.  This article is intended to be a summary of that presentation.

In late 2003, I wrote an article on this topic for the Journal.  However, the point of that article was mainly trying to identify what the “RB” mark was and who was the customer.  Since then a number of additional facts have surfaced as well as a couple of pieces not known at that time so given the 10+ years since that article and the new information, the topic seemed to be something that could be of interest to McCoy Collectors.  The main point of the presentation centered around proving that these pieces were made by McCoy and not about what the “RB” mark stands for.  The “RB” mark question still remains an unanswered one and we may never be able to clearly answer it but the facts could present themselves at any time.

There are not a lot of these “RB” pieces that have publicly surfaced but then it might also be fair to expect that it may partially be true because they are not marked McCoy and so collectors and dealers in general do not identify them as a piece of McCoy and they don’t know of a well-known maker that had the RB initials. Having said that, it is important to share that four of the pieces in the following photos have surfaced for sale in the last 12 months so finding one of more of these pieces is not an unattainable goal.

The first piece we reviewed is a well-known shape of a rare McCoy piece from 1939.  The catalog image shown below is from a rare 1939 McCoy catalog sheet and the only year this piece was made.  The two similar pieces to the right are of the same height and weight.  The left is in the typical McCoy gloss aqua glaze.   The right is in a gloss lime green glaze.  The McCoy catalog piece carries just the “USA” mark and the other a “RB” mark.  The bottom design is also identical on the pieces.  In the catalog image, you can see that the McCoy production piece was made in green, yellow and white.  The “RB” marked example has also been found in a gloss yellow.

Pic 1 Pic2 Pic3












The second piece for review is similar to what we collectors call the “V-Vase” in the Hobnail and Butterfly Lines.  In the comparison photo, we have the “RB” marked piece on the left and the production Hobnail Line piece on the right.  They are exactly the same height.  The top rim and the side designs are identical.  The bottoms are also of identical designs.  The RB Vase has a completely different design running down the center of the piece.  It is in a matte blue glaze, identical to the McCoy matte blue glaze used on many pieces in the early 1940s.  This is the only glaze color found on this RB Vase to date.

Page 2 Pic 1 Page 2 Pic 2 Page 2 Pic 3




















The next piece is the “little brother” of the Vase above and is pictured next to it in the photo to the left.  It is proportionally the exact same design reduced to a shorter size.  As we collectors know, there are a number of pieces produced by McCoy from this early 1940s era that came in two sizes of similar designs.  It is also marked RB on the bottom in a similar fashion as above. AS with the larger size, it has also only been found in the matte blue glaze.

Page 2 Pic4












Page 3 Pic 1



The next piece is a small Vase of about 6 inches in height.  This Vase is more available than not.  Certainly it is not common but a handful show up on EBay in any given year.  The two examples shown in the photo are typical matte aqua and matte blue McCoy style glazes.  The bottoms are totally dry bottom and hence carry no mark. McCoy collectors have long felt this was a McCoy product but not found in any catalog listings.








The next piece is the “big brother” of the Vase above.  It is proportionally the exact same design only larger at about 8 inches tall. This example is in the typical McCoy matte aqua glaze. It is marked “RB” on the bottom as you can see in the photo so this is very interesting and important.  It explains why the smaller version above has not been found in McCoy Pottery catalogs of this era as it was likely part of the “RB” group of production pieces made.  As we collectors know, there are a number of pieces produced by McCoy from this early 1940s era that were made in two different sizes but having similar designs.  This Vase has also only been found in this matte aqua glaze.

Page 3 Pic 2

Page 3 piC 3













nm 1 rb1


To the left is a comparison of the NM Block style mark from many early 1940s McCoy pieces and that of the RB mark on some of these “RB” pieces.  Note their similar styles.  Even the “S” in USA is slightly larger in each mark.  The other point to note is that as often as not, the RB pieces found have a mark that is difficult to read, lacking detail, which would suggest the mold for the piece was used to produce a noted amount of pieces and not just a very small quantity.






The next piece is a “Trough” planter which is 7-1/2” long and 4-1/2” wide.  Note the photo showing the smaller “Trough” planter which is a catalog McCoy product from the era.  You can see they have very similar design styles and proportions.  It is marked RB on the bottom in a similar fashion to most of the other RB pieces.  The bottom of the McCoy production piece is dry bottom.  This RB Trough has been found in matte aqua and matte yellow glazes.

pAGE 4 PIC 2 pAGE 4 PIC 1








Now we have a little different twist.  Below is the six inches tall McCoy Vase on the left in the photo. It has a dry bottom. On the right is the piece shown in the 1941 McCoy catalog.  Shown on the right in the photo is a similar design Vase to the McCoy piece which was likely made by Haeger.  So now that we have identified this McCoy product production piece, read on to the the information on the last RB piece in this article.


















In this photo, we have a larger Vase standing about nine inches tall and in a similar design style to the six inch style Vase discussed above.  This Vase adds a new wrinkle to this story.  It was only produced in 1952 as it is in the McCoy Pottery 1952 catalog, (see catalog image on next page), and has only been found in typical early 1950s style glazes which would be consistent with the 1952 catalog timing.

pAGE 4 PIC 5












pAGE 5 pIC 1PAGE 5 PIC 2











Above is photo of the 1941 six inch Vase next to the nine inch Vase example.  The six inch Vase is in the gloss aqua glaze from the early 1940s and the taller example as the soft minty style glaze from the late 1940s thru the early 1950s.  The catalog image is from the 1952 McCoy catalog.  Note the colors offered.

The other very interesting point is that this nine inch Vase has only been found with an “RB” mark on the bottom.  None have surfaced with any different bottom design such as a “McCoy” mark or a dry bottom.  Also, look at the style of this mark shown. It is exactly like that of the previous photo in the article showing the bottom mark of the eight inch tall matte aqua Vase. pAGE 5 lAST pIC

Thinking in terms of the glazes colors, this nine inch Vase has been found in gloss yellow, gloss off-white, and two different gloss greens.  One of these is the typical darker green of this early 1950s era and the other the typical soft or minty green from this era.  All of these examples found have the same style RB marked bottom.

So how do we explain this timing related to the other pieces?  First of all, we have no facts telling us exactly what and why.  However, it seems one good possible scenario is that these two Vases above were both designed in the early 1940s to be part of the RB marked pieces.  But then for some reason, they were not included in the production of the RB pieces.  The smaller one was added to the McCoy products family and the larger one, already marked RB, was set aside for future use.  Then in 1952 they decided to add it to the McCoy product family and used the mold, with the RB mark already there, for the production run.

One final twist on this nine inch Vase; a similar style Vase was made by more than one competitor of McCoy Pottery. As you can see in the photos to the right, Brush Pottery made one, which is marked Brush, and another one by likely Haeger.  Abingdon is another possible maker of this 3rd example but given Haeger made the six inch size we previously discussed, Haeger is likely correct.  So if you see one of these across the room for sale, don’t knock over everything getting there as it may not be the “real” McCoy.





Page 6 pic 1Page 6 pic 2page 6 pic 3





















Above are three different makers:  McCoy, Brush and Haeger.


Middle 1Middle 2




















Note the difference in handle thickness…The Haeger on the right is much thicker.  The McCoy and Haeger have similar upper shapes from top view whereas the Brush Vase does not flare in equal directions..




Bottom views showing the McCoy piece with the RB mark, the Brush marked piece and the typical bottom found on many Haeger made vases from the era with no mark.

So in summary, while we may never know what the “RB” letters represent nor who the customer was, it would seem the correct conclusion that we have proven these pieces to have been made by the McCoy Pottery Company.  As such, keep a look out in your hunting, any of these pieces would be a nice addition to any McCoy Pottery collection!

Bottom 1 Bottom 2 Bottom 3

Dedication of the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company Historic Marker

Sunday, October 5th, 2014



By Tony Harrington

I have to start this article by saying what an amazing day this was! As the President of the Society I was moved by the effort it took by many individuals to create, plan, organize, communicate and then implement the dedication events on this exciting July morning.
In the previous Journal editions we have given a glimpse of the process we had to go through to get the marker created and the many individuals it took to approve and place into production. I would be remiss if I didn’t again thank our Committee Chair Edward Alexander for the year spent on the marker and all that lead to the Dedication Day.

Roughly one month before the unveiling in Roseville the foundry called and said we have your Marker ready so where would you like it delivered. Being we were all out of town the only place we thought to send it was to Jeff Koehler’s house! Jeff so graciously accepted the marker delivery and housed it in secret for the month.

One of the most important aspects of this process was the placement of the Marker in the correct space. Many have asked, “What was the determining factor of where the marker was to be placed?” In connection with the Village of Roseville and the Ohio Department of Transportation, an appropriate place had to be determined that was on State Maintained Roadways and had an appropriate amount of easement for traffic to stop and gain access safely to view off of the street. Out of the many entrances to Roseville considered, the site at the corner of HWY 93 and W. Athens road was chosen and approved by the Department of Transportation.

As we got closer to the Dedication day we worked closely with Roseville officials, Joan Spring with the Roseville Historical Society and Jeff Koehler to make sure all the necessary details were taken care of. Mowing of the grass onsite, grading the lot, installation of the post and sign, arranging police coverage for traffic, arranging press coverage presence, chairs, tent and podium were just some of the basic details to arrange. The day before the dedication Ed Alexander and I were onsite to make sure all was going according to plan only to find out that someone had parked a car onsite and we could not find out who the owner was. I immediately envisioned a dedication tent with a car in the middle of it. After a nice visit with the Mayor of Roseville and activating the entire staff at town hall, we located the owner of the car and well… no one knew the difference.

Dedication morning was perfect with the weather cooperating. Upon arrival Jeff Koehler and his crew had the tent in place, chairs aligned and ready for what would be a memorable day. A Dedication Bulletin was created for attendees and were handed out by Board members in attendance (See last page of article for a scan of the program). Attendees included the Honorable Bill Hayes from the Ohio House of Representatives, Kimberly Dixon-Mayor of Roseville, OH, Jeff Tilton-Mayor of Zanesville, OH Molly Uline-Olmstead, Project & Grant Writer Ohio Historical Society & Joan Spring with the Roseville Historical Society. Nelson & Billie McCoy were present with family in attendance. In addition to the above mentioned we had over 50 people in attendance including McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society Members and public community members and neighbors.

The Ceremony began with opening remarks from myself with a welcome to the attendees and a recap of the process of the journey that lead to Dedication Day. An introduction was made to Molly Uline-Olmstead to speak on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society. In her remarks she presented the Society with a commendation certificate for efforts in creating the Historic Marker. Speaking points were about the process, creation and historical significance to Ohio with regard the preservation of historic landmarks. This was certainly a proud moment for our Society.

Introduced in tandem with Mollie was the Honorable Bill Hays. Representative Hayes spoke to the attendees and congratulated the Society in the creation and placement of the marker. The Ohio House of Representatives & the Ohio Senate both conveyed certificates honoring the achievements of the Society.
m9 m6

Our next speaker introduced was Edward Alexander, Chair for the creation of the Marker. Ed shared with the attendees the process and creation of the marker and thanked individuals for their assistance. Our next speaker was our own Jamie Melton. Jamie, being a collector of McCoy and a Member of the Society, shared thoughts and praise on behalf of Collectors and past employees. His heart felt remarks were moving to the attendees.
m11 m10

Last but not least was a reading of the Historic Marker text with an invitation for all dignitaries and Nelson & Billie McCoy to come forward for the unveiling. With all present the Society dedicated the Marker to the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company, the Village of Roseville, past Presidents, employees and collectors alike. The dedication ended with joyful photo taking and posing with the sign. Nelson & Billie graciously autographed the Dedication Booklet which I now think will become treasured memento for years to come.

Upon completion of the Dedication Event we still had not reached our fund raising goals in order to complete the fees involved with the process. At the Society Auction on Friday evening, Jeff Koehler, without a discussion with us, started the bidding in the auction for “Something for Nothing” item! Everyone looked around not knowing what was going on and then realized he was raising bid funds for the marker project. We raised over $600+ that evening in “Something for Nothing” bids! Thank you Jeff and thank you bidders!
And……. On the night of our Banquet Dinner we had another surprise. Jamie Melton was scheduled to speak on a topic and before he started he pulled out a $100 bill and challenged the group to “Let’s get this done”. Within 5 minutes we had the marker fund paid for and “officially” designated complete. Thanks again to all who generously gave not one but time again to see that this historic moment was taken care of. While we would like to list everyone who contributed we were simply unable to do so.
m13 m12

Thank You to All Who Organized To Make This Day Possible:
Nelson & Billie McCoy
Joan Spring-Roseville Historical Society
Kimberly Dixon-Mayor of Roseville, OH
Edward Alexander & Historic Marker Committee
Craig Nissan
Dewayne Imsand
Ohio Historical Society & Historic Markers Program
Ohio Department of Transportation
Jeff Koehler
Chiquita Prestwood
John Vorisek
Jamie Melton
Past Employees of the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company
Frank Poolas
Membership of the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society

The Nelson McCoy Pottery Company Historic Marker was sponsored by the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society.

Some of the Society Members in Attendance:
m3 m4

Historical Marker Dedication

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Historic Marker Dedication Article from the Zanesville Times Recorder

Know Your Insurance Coverage Before This Happens To You

Monday, June 16th, 2014

THE JOURNAL                                                                                                                  JULY 2014


 By Dan Schroeder and Dorman Olson

On June 30th of last year, a wildfire hit our community in Yarnell, Arizona.  The Wildfire was moving away from our community but then did a sudden 180 degree change of direction. Storm winds drove the fire back toward us at the rate of about 4 miles in less than an hour, leaving us and all our neighbors’ precious little time to evacuate. Some of us were able to grab a few personal items while many left with just the clothes on their backs.  19 brave firefighters lost their lives in the raging inferno and over 120 homes were reduced to nothing more than a pile of ash with very little recognizable.  The heat alone was high enough to melt gold and suck the life out of 100 year old mature oak trees that were not in the direct path of the flames.

The loss of everything was difficult at best, but the loss of our antiques, pottery and artwork was devastating.  Over 400 pieces of McCoy Pottery were lost, with but only a chance to save a few very special pieces when evacuating. With burning embers already falling on our home there just was not enough time to save more. Several pieces later found in the rubble appeared to be intact; only to have them fall apart the minute we picked them up.  The heat from the fire was so intense that pieces felt 50% lighter in weight.

Fire Pic1

Several Leslie Cope paintings and etchings were also lost, most purchased directly from Velma Cope.  Weller, Rookwood, Shawnee, Stangl, Kay Finch, Will-George and Borden’s Elsie the Cow pieces also were lost for a total of over 600 pieces.

We were fortunate to have had over 80% of our collection appraised a few years ago, with individual photos of each.  Without the ability to get a copy from the appraiser after the fire we would have never been able to remember each and every piece in our collection.

There were also many pieces that were collected after the appraisal and required months of “remembering” to add them to our insurance claim.  At the time of writing this article it’s been almost 10 months since the fire and we continue to work on submitting personal property inventories to the insurance company for reimbursement.

We hope that sharing these photos and our insurance experience with you will prompt you to thoroughly review your insurance coverage levels and claim procedures so please keep these following points in mind:

  1. You know more about your home and personal property than your insurance company so don’t expect them to properly value your home and personal property based on the limited information that they have.  Typically, they first establish a replacement value for your home and then all other coverage’s are a percentage of that value.  The problem is that many agents use software that asks very few questions about your home … and the results are an estimate only.  If your house is underinsured, then your limits on personal property will be lower than they would be with proper insurance on the house.
  2. Don’t automatically accept the coverage limits proposed by your insurance company.  Ask questions and challenge anything that just doesn’t seem right.
  3. The replacement value of any item includes not just its value, but also sales tax.  In some areas this can add almost 10% to the cost to replace lost or damaged items.
  4. Find out what is automatically covered and to what level. Do you need additional insurance for “scheduled items”?   There is often a dollar limit for any single item so it becomes crucial to know your policy details and make adjustments to arrive at proper insurance coverage’s.
  5. Finally, always remember that insurance companies are in the business of making profits for their stakeholders and may try to avoid paying out after a loss.

Fire Pic 2

Our policy pays us a depreciated value for most personal property … then allows us up to two years to replace the items and then collect the difference between what they initially paid us and the actual cost of the replacement.  The problem is that you simply cannot find exact replacements for this many pieces in a 2 year period … most people with significant collections have spent decades looking and buying.  Talk to the insurance agent about getting coverage that pays full value for your collectibles up front … not a depreciated value.

We also feel there is a difference between some sale values versus the actual replacement cost of antiques and collectibles for insurance purposes. We all regularly see pieces sell at auction or online for often less than we paid, or certainly less than when the market was stronger. But we all also see the same pieces often priced higher than those online levels both at antique stores and online.

In an insurance claim the replacement value is what it would cost you to locate and buy that exact piece RIGHT NOW.  It doesn’t matter if the exact piece sold last week on EBay for $25 … if you have to go to an antiques store and pay $75 to immediately replace that lost piece then that should become the replacement value.  Our point is to not fall into the mindset that says the replacement value is what you THINK the value should be based on recent sales … it’s what you have to ultimately PAY, even when higher than expected.

Fire Pic 3

Here are some random questions that may arise for some or possibly many collectors:


Do you have your Pottery Collection insured?


A: Unfortunately we have direct experience with dealing with a fire that destroyed our home and our McCoy Collection of several hundred pieces.  We did have insurance coverage.  If we did not have coverage, the value in the Pottery would have been a total loss.  However, even with insurance, the challenges after the horrific event were certainly there.  We had our Collection formally appraised several years prior to the fire including photos of each piece in the appraisal.  This was a very important factor in working with the insurance company after the fact.  Current values of the pieces and also estimating replacement costs with additional consideration for sales tax, travel, etc. were all topics that had to be reviewed in great detail but having the photos and original appraisal as a base point to start was indeed a critical ingredient. 

So how do you determine the right person to do the appraisal?

A: We used an appraiser that also worked in the antiques and collectibles market for many years and that had access to all reference guides and other published information specific to our collection.


Are having photos of the individual pieces enough?

A: Every piece on our appraisal had an individual photo PLUS descriptive information that identified condition issues; reference book pages; value ranges; purchase invoices; etc.  The appraiser used all of this information in determining the final valuations.  Remember, the sharpness of the mold and quality of the glaze affects value so always add appropriate comments.


What if the pieces in the collection were photographed in groups instead of individually?

A: Photos of groups of pieces will never show the level of detail that a good close-up photo of an individual piece will.  Don’t take any chances … spend the time and do a thorough piece by piece documentation of your collection!

If you had it all to do over; what different approaches might you have done?

A: Store information outside of your home … at your office, on “the cloud”, on a thumb drive in a safe deposit box, etc.  AND KEEP IT CURRENT as your collection grows.

 Fire Pic 4

As a conclusion, what is the recommendation to Society members for insuring their collection?


A: KNOW YOUR POLICY. Know the coverage levels and the procedures you’ll need to follow for a claim, and know whether or not you should increase your limits or list specific pieces as “scheduled items”.

And don’t forget the rest of your personal property.  Make it an annual event to take photos of absolutely everything in your home … open drawers, open closets and storerooms, open pantries … remember to photo every wall, every floor, everything.  Otherwise in a loss you’ll never remember every throw rug, every pillow, every doily, and each and every measuring spoon.

Nelson McCoy Pottery Company Historical Marker

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

By Tony Harrington

A few years in the making…

 A couple of years ago the movement started to create a memorial to McCoy Pottery on behalf of the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society.  The adage is nothing is ever easy is so true!  Last year at the annual Board Meeting the recommendation was brought forward to continue and explore the possibility of having a marker created.  Edward Alexander accepted the task of creating a committee and working toward this goal.  In the past year Ed has worked consistently with many individuals to acquire the appropriate text and layout.  If you have never created a marker let me explain…

The Ohio Historical markers identify places and events that have contributed to the state’s rich history. The Ohio Historical Markers Program, administered by the Ohio Historical Society, is a vital educational tool, informing residents and visitors about significant aspects of Ohio’s past.   There are currently 1458 markers located across the state that recognize Ohio’s rich cultural history. Made of cast aluminum, these signposts provide a tangible record of Ohio’s history.

Ed found out quickly that the requirements needed to submit an application for review was detailed!  Every fact had to be footnoted which required conversations with many McCoy historians, past presidents, collectors and yes even Nelson McCoy.  80 years of history was to be condensed into a mere 125 words.  Size of text, double sided sign or not, logos to include and of course the text itself created many discussions, revisions and finally a consensus from most.

At present we have formally sent the application to the Ohio Historical Marker program and awaiting final review and approval.  Once the application is approved we will need to raise the funds and then the sign will be sent for casting at the foundry.

It is our hope that we will be able to have the sign created, cast and delivered for an unveiling at this year’s Pottery Week.  This installation and unveiling will take place in Roseville where the marker will be placed in perpetuity.

Our request to you our membership is to assist with a kind donation to the Society on behalf of the Historical Marker.  We are awaiting a final cost but have a goal of $3,000.  We would love 100% participation from our membership.  All contributors will be recognized in future Journal Editions.   Funds for the marker will include the cost of the Marker and fees by the Marker Program to set up for casting and the post to install the sign.  Any overages of funds received to the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society will be held in escrow for any replacement as we, The Society, are responsible for the ongoing upkeep of the Marker.


(Example of Ohio Historical Marker)


Donations can be sent and made out to:

McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society
Re: Historical Marker
420 Quail Run Circle
Fountain Inn, SC 29644



The Fineforms Line

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Craig Nissen

The Fineforms Line was one of the last Lines released for sale by the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company and was continued on by Designer Accents after they bought the Company in 1985. The Fineform pieces all carry their catalog number designation which is a 400 series number with the exception of two pieces. Most will also have a USA mark. None of the Fineform pieces carry any McCoy mark.

The List on the next page is a complete list of all the production Fineform pieces sold. It can provide a reference for a collector should they decide to try and collect the entire line. The “Rarity” column was added to provide collectors with an estimate of how hard it may be to add any particular piece to their collection. All of the pieces are included in the photos on the following pages. The last two catalog pages are from the late 1980s versions of the Fineform pieces where Designer Accents added an etched design to an original Fineform piece or a floral decal.

cn12a cn12b cn12c cn12d cn12e cn12fcn12g cn12h cn12i

The Nelson McCoy Pottery Production During the World War II Years

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

World War II was the most widespread war in history, and it eventually involved the participation of over 50 countries. It placed these countries in a state of total war, and erased the distinction between civil and military resources. This resulted in the complete activation of a nation’s economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort.

The war began in Europe September 1939. Thereafter a great debate began in the United States between the isolationists and the interventionists. The isolationists wanted the country to stay out of the war at almost any cost, and the interventionists wanted the United States to do all in its power to aid the Allies. Eventually the United States shifted its policy from neutrality to preparedness. It began to expand its armed forces, build defense plants, and to give the Allies aid of all types short of war.

The dramatic attack on United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 ended the debate over America’s entrance into the war. The following day the United States entered World War II.

Soon the United States established a War Production Board. As discussed in an April 2007 Journal article on the economic conditions during this period, the basic goal of the Board was to convert and expand the peacetime economy to maximum wartime production. The Board directed all production activities, as well as the procurement of materials, and the assignment of delivery priorities of scarce materials. Additionally, the Board prohibited non-essential industrial activities an d industrial production.

Actions of the Board adversely affected the Nelson McCoy Pottery and other potteries across the country. One significant impact was the rationing of natural gas, which the McCoy pottery used, along with many other potteries, to fire their kilns. In addition, many other things industry needed were also rationed, such as gasoline and other fuel types, and tires, to name a few things. Even clay was in short supply.

An analysis of the McCoy pottery production during the war years shows that there were some dramatic changes. The following Table gives a series of production statistics for the years 1941 to 1946. There are no data for 1943.

The number of different pieces, including all the different sizes that the pottery produced in 1941 was high, and it is obvious the effects of the war were not yet felt. In 1942 however, the number of different pieces that pottery offered for sale was dramatically lower, and it amounted to only 31 percent of the previous year. There was a much lower production throughout all of the war years, until it ended in the spring of 1945. Pottery production significantly increased in 1946, after the resumption of peacetime activities.

The number of pieces produced in 1941 with an old style design (pieces first produced in prior years) was 134, and there were 57 pieces produced with a new style design. Apparently, the old style pieces selected were those that had previously sold well. The adoption of previous designs resulted in a savings to the pottery. It saved material, effort, and time, by the avoidance of new die and mold preparation, and other startup work.

The number of different style pieces produced by the pottery remained low until 1946, when a total of 144 pieces were produced, of those 118 were old style pieces, and 26 were new styles. The diversity of items the pottery produced reached all time low in 1944 when only three new style pieces, first introduced in 1943 or 1944, were produced.

Beginning in 1942, besides the reduction in the overall number of pieces produced, and the reduction in the number of new designs offered, the pottery began the production of miniatures, small flower holders, and flower bowl ornaments, referred to together herein as novelties. These small pieces consumed much less resources than the larger size pieces, and aided the work at the pottery to continue during this difficult time. As shown in the Table above, the novelties amounted to only 8 percent of the total number of pieces produced in 1941. However, in 1942, the percentage of novelties rose to 22 percent. There are no data for 1943, but in 1944, the novelty production was still high at 21 percent. Although there were no novelties produced after 1944, a total of only 38 different pieces were produced in 1945, the lowest amount of any year.
Many industries and support businesses were either sharply oriented to defense production, or completely dependent on it. The McCoy pottery was directly involved in the war effort through the production military goods. The pottery secured a contract to produce land mine casings for the military. The exact date of this wartime contract is unknown. In addition, the size of the contract, or how much of the production capability of the pottery it occupied, is unknown. It is possible that the full efforts of the pottery were required, and if so, that may explain why no pottery production data exists for 1943.

The following is a list of the new items introduced by the Nelson McCoy Pottery during each of the war years. Also included are the sizes, and where available, the colors in which each piece was initially produced. Style numbers, along with a picture of the pieces, may be found in Sanford’s Guide to McCoy Pottery.

image226 image227 image228 image229 image230 image231 image232 image233

An Uncommon Ashtray

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

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.


A Variety of the Nelson McCoy #270 Vase

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Reported By Clarke Winslow

The Nelson McCoy Pottery produced the #270 vase in 1945. The 9-inch tall vase was issued in pastel colors of White, Green, or Peach. Those were the colors until 1948, when they changed to Green, Coral, or Yellow. These were the available colors until 1951, the last year the vase was produced. The #270 vase is marked “McCoy”, and it is shown on the left below. Notice the small side handles.

Sometime during the six-years that the #270 vase was produced, a small design modification was made. The two cutouts, which formed the handles, were omitted, evidently as a cost saving measure. See the vase on the right below.

This modified vase is not shown in the pottery catalogs, and it is not known exactly when the change occurred. Also, it is not known how long the modified vase was produced. The vase is not generally pictured in the McCoy reference books, although it is pictured in the reference, Warman’s McCoy Pottery, 2 nd Edition. It is doubtful that this vase was produced for a long time, since it is not readily found.


Molds of Nelson McCoy Pieces Recently Up For Auction

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

Some months back in 2008, several master molds, and production molds of pieces originally made by the Nelson McCoy Pottery were up for auction on eBay. The seller said that he has produced and has, “… over 50 other McCoy master molds available, including the mammy cookie jar, planters, vases, and wall pockets.” His first offerings were a master mold of the Mailbox Wall Pocket, and a master and a production mold of the McCoy Peacock Strawberry Vase.

For those that are not so familiar with molds, a master mold is used to produce production molds. The master mold is typically made of rubber, and is able to produce hundreds of production molds. Production molds are made of plaster, and they are used to produce the actual piece.

When it is planned to produce a large number of pieces, numerous production molds are necessary. This is because small amounts of clay accumulate in a mold with every use. Eventually, more and more details of the design of the piece become blurred, and a new mold must be used.

Due to copyright issues, the actual molds that were auctioned can not be shown here, however, a three-piece rabbit, production mold is given for illustration. The two larger mold pieces fit together, with the smaller piece inserted in the slot at the top. The smaller mold piece has one-half of each of the two ears on the front and back. This arrangement allows the ears to be three-dimensional.

After the mold is assembled and secured together, usually with rubber bands, the mold is turned upside down and liquefied clay, which is called slip, is poured into the mold through the circular hole. The mold is then allowed to sit for a period of time. The plaster mold absorbs water from the slip and leaves the clay to accumulate on the sides. After the clay has thickened to the desired thickness, the remaining slip is poured out and the mold is allowed to dry. When sufficient drying has occurred the mold is separated and the piece, in this case the rabbit, is removed. The rabbit is then trimmed, and after some additional drying can be fired in the kiln.

An inquiry was made regarding the origin of the molds that the seller had up for auction. The seller responded, “I am a master mold maker and the molds are produced from either an actual piece, or a sculpted replica of the piece.”

This is somewhat reassuring. It means that all of the pieces from these molds will be smaller than the authentic Nelson McCoy piece that they appear to be. This size difference provides the means to detect reproductions, regardless of the source.

Recent Discoveries of Early W. F. McCoy and Brown & McCoy Stoneware

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

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.


What Makes McCoy Pottery Special

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

During almost all of the years from 1848 to 1985, the McCoy family owned, or invested, in a pottery. It makes no different what someone wants to collect, whether it is utilitarian stoneware, art pottery, decorative pieces, or dinnerware, there usually was a McCoy pottery in existence that produced it.

In the pottery collector’s world, the McCoy name is highly recognized, and it may be the most sought after pottery in the country. If we can use recent eBay numbers as a guide, we find that there are 33 American potteries listed. The largest number of pieces by far, that any of these potteries had up for auction was 2091, and the name of that pottery was none other than McCoy. In addition, the number of McCoy pieces listed was much greater than the number of pieces from any other Zanesville area pottery, and that makes McCoy the popular “King” of the “Pottery Capital of the World”.

A person that does not collect McCoy pottery may say – Okay, McCoy pottery is popular, but what is the attraction, why do you collect McCoy? Well, the short answer is, because we like it. Of course, that just brings another question – What do you like about it? The answers to that may be as numerous as there are collectors – there are many different reasons, and some collectors have more than one.

Here are a few of the responses people have given when asked to explain why they have picked McCoy pottery from all of the available choices.

There are recognizable, utilitarian stoneware pieces from the 1800’s that are still existent, and it is exciting to own these old pieces.

The uniqueness of the art pottery produced by the J.W. McCoy Pottery gives a pride of ownership.

The Nelson McCoy Pottery, spanning so many years from 1910 to 1985, provides a great diversity of pieces, and allows collectors to specialize in any number of categories they choose.

The cookie jars produced by Nelson McCoy are unexcelled, and they are numerous and diverse, which allows a massive and most impressive display.

The realistic designs of the pottery produced, especially by Sidney and Leslie Cope, are outstanding.

The glazes used by the pottery are vibrant, and in true colors, plus finding a color to match your home décor is easy.

Many of the McCoy pieces remind us of days gone by. We can find things we grew up seeing in our childhood homes, and in the homes of our grand parents.

“McCoy” people take pride in the camaraderie that exists among McCoy collectors. Of particular enjoyment is the ability to meet and socialize with fellow McCoy collectors in Zanesville every year during the Pottery Festival. This year marks the 20 th year we will be together.

Besides the many personal reasons why we think McCoy pottery is special, there is one common reason that all McCoy collectors have. That reason is the presence and support of Nelson and Billie McCoy. They support our organization, The McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society, 100 percent, and they are always willing to assist whenever they can. They are always available to answer questions. It makes no difference whether the question is a simple one from a novice, or a technical one from an advanced collector, everyone can expect equal time. I have heard Nelson answer the same questions over, and over through the years for different people, and he answers them today with the same consideration for the new questioner as he had for the first one. What a pleasure.

If you have an interest in pottery, then check out McCoy, I think you will like it. It is special, and the people are too.

Another McCoy Lamp or WallPocket?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Craig Nissen

Whether you are a McCoy Pottery Lamp collector or a McCoy Pottery Wall Pocket collector, this might be another piece to put on your wish list! This wonderful Wall Lamp/Wall Pocket was almost assuredly a McCoy product made for Buckingham Ceramics, and is but another wonderful piece for all collectors to keep in mind as you hunt for the Nelson McCoy Pottery we all love.

Pictured to the left is the Wall Lamp next to a McCoy Wall Pocket from the late 1940’s, that was prototyped, but never produced.

You can easily see the similarity in the design of both pieces. The size of the pottery shape is about 7 inches tall and 6 inches wide for both pieces. The two holes in the front of the Wall Lamp, toward the top, are for the mounting of a metal bracket to hold the bulb socket and also provide a channel shape for the lamp wire to lie in.

The second photo compares the back of two pieces. Note the same design and location of the kiln resting pads as well as the design from the back of the leaf extensions from the main bodies.

Although it’s hard to make out the McCoy Mark that is on the wall pocket in the photo, the Buckingham mark and the McCoy mark are located in the same area. (If you have a copy of the McCoy Book on McCoy Wall Pockets, you can view the back of this Wall Pocket on page 65, showing the McCoy mark.) So let’s further examine why this is likely a McCoy product. What we know as fact is that McCoy made pieces for the Buckingham Ceramics Company. Nelson McCoy was kind enough to share some of the history related to that relationship. Buckingham, gave McCoy about six pieces a year to produce for them. He also noted that Buckingham also gave Brush Pottery about the same number of pieces each year. However, there was no competitive bidding that occurred. Both companies were simply expected to quote the six products given to them at a fair price and simply proceed with production.

One of these items was a lamp utilizing the design of the very successful McCoy Wishing Well planter. Many collectors have found examples of this lamp in several McCoy known glaze colors. An example of this Wishing Well Lamp is shown in the photo to the left.

It has the typical McCoy gloss gray glaze, consistent with this late 1940s era and is marked Buckingham on the bottom in the same style as that shown on the back of the Wall Lamp. The other interesting point of this photo, for collectors, is the shade on this particular Wishing Well Lamp example. This shade is consistent with the design of lamps in this era. The material is consistent with the era, the shade material is also similar to shades found on other known McCoy made lamps from this era and finally, it “fits” the lamp, meaning the size relationship of the shade to the base is correct and the bottom of the shade cuts across just below the socket, to hide that hardware but not any lower.

The result is that it is very likely that this was the shade sold originally with this Wishing Well Lamp.

Why are we making such a point of this shade when the article is about the Wall Lamp? Well, the photo to the right shows that same shade on a Wall Lamp example.

Again, note how well it “fits” the Wall Lamp. It is further believed that Buckingham likely sold this same shade with this Wall Lamp. This practice was very typical of other known lamp producers of the era; sharing shade products on small table lamps with wall lamp designs.

But, that is not where the facts supporting this Wall Lamp as a Nelson McCoy product ends; even though one could argue we already have enough evidence! To date, the few examples found of this wonderful Wall Lamp, are in but two glaze color combinations. The first is the exact same gloss gray glaze with burgundy glaze accent on the leaves as is found on the McCoy Mermaid Lamp with those same colors.

The second glaze color combination found is a gloss yellow glaze with rusty brown glaze accent on the leaves. These are the same glazes as those found on the yellow glaze color version of the Flower with Bird McCoy wall pocket. Of course, all of these glazes were in the McCoy factory in the same range of years; the late 1940s to very early 1950s, which just adds to the validity of all these conclusions.

The final photo above is a shot of the Wall Lamp, providing an additional look at how the metal bracket with socket looks as mounted to the pottery portion of the Wall Lamp. You can see the channel shape in the bracket, as noted above, to provide a place for the wire to run from the socket to the back of the Lamp.

I hope you have enjoyed the sharing of this new discovery of a product made by the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company and that just maybe, you will come across one of these treasures in your own hunting for McCoy! Good Luck!

A Discussion of Onyx Ware

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

J.W. McCoy produced the first known onyx pieces in 1910. The pieces he made were a ardinière, a matching pedestal, and an umbrella stand as shown to the left and in the center below. All of these pieces were offered in both a “Red Onyx”, which was actually a reddish dark brown color, and in a blended glaze.

article7a article7b article7c

article7dIn 1911, the name of the J.W. Pottery Co. was changed to the Brush-McCoy Pottery Co. and in that year a newly designed jardinière and pedestal was introduced in Red Onyx. The jardinière and pedestal is shown on the right above.

During 1914, the jardinière and pedestal sets shown above, along with other pieces were offered in both a Red or Green onyx.

article7eIn 1924, the Brush-McCoy pottery introduced a large number of onyx pieces that the company referred to as our “New Onyx Line.” The new line came in an assortment of shapes as shown on the catalog page below. An example of the 1924 Brush-McCoy onyx is shown to the left.

In early 1925 the Brush-McCoy pottery came out with a new onyx piece.

This time the piece was a pitcher. In addition, the pitcher introduced two new glaze colors, Blue Onyx and Brown Onyx. Also in 1925 the company produced a large selection, about 40 pieces of onyx ware, and each of these pieces was available in either, Red, Blue, or Green.

The Flower Bowl and candlesticks shown on the front cover are examples of this 1925 onyx.

The Flower Bowl came in two sizes, an eight and nine-inch diameter. The bowls also came with a black base, which was probably made of ebony. The candlesticks that were made in 1925 had a ring handle. The candlesticks without handles, as shown, were identical to the 1925 candlesticks but were made sometime later. Other pieces from a 1925 catalog are shown on page 13. Another page from the 1925 catalog is given on the rear cover.

A 1924 Brush-McCoy Catalog Page

A 1924 Brush-McCoy Catalog Page

At this point I would like to offer a little discussion of onyx. All of the pieces that are called onyx are not the same type onyx. Also, sometimes there is confusion in determining if a particular piece is onyx or if it has a blended glaze. Both the onyx ware and pieces with a blended glaze are created using a procedure called over-glazing. In this process, a second color, or sometimes a third color glaze, is applied to an initially glazed piece. Although in both of the two types of over-glazing the glazes blend together, a difference occurs because of the manner in which the second and any subsequent glaze is applied.

In creating blended ware an additional color or colors may be applied by using a brush, or more typically, if one color is added, by dipping the top of the piece in the additional glaze. Subsequently, when the piece is up-righted and fired all added glazes run down the sides of the ware for varying distances and the colors tend to blend in streaks.

article7gIn the early onyx pieces the secondary color or colors are stippled all over the ware. Stippling is a method of applying color by daubing the tip of a brush loaded with a colored glaze at intervals all around the sides of the ware. This produces a pattern, shown to the right below, that is sometimes more noticeable than at other times.

The major difference seen between blended ware and the earlier onyx ware is that in onyx ware the secondary color or colors are renewed at spots all over the sides of the ware so that the over-glaze or glazes are not confined to streaks. Since both blended ware and onyx ware are glazed by hand, each piece is unique and there are many variations of each style of them.

In December 1925 the name of the pottery was changed from the Brush-McCoy Pottery to the Brush Pottery. Four years later, in 1929, the company came out with another onyx line. It was called “Modern Blended Onyx”, and the glaze was applied to the company’s Stonecraft Line, which had first been introduced in 1923. It is not known whether this new “Modern Blended Onyx” was applied to any other pieces or not, but a Stonecraft jardinière with the new glaze is shown to the left. While the upper portion of the jardinière has a solid color glaze, the lower sides which is the onyx portion, are clearly typical of the blended glaze technique.

Although this new line, Modern Blended Onyx, was solely a Brush Pottery Co. product, the date it came out, 1929, is important because it marks the time that a noticeable difference between the original type onyx and a newer type appeared.

The question may be asked, “Why was there a change in the way onyx pieces were made?” The most probably reason for the change began years before. In 1921, the U.S. War Department conducted an investigation to determine which minerals had been in short supply during World War I. The list of minerals included tin, which was an important ingredient contained in onyx glazes. This metal, together with lead caused the original onyx glaze to be heavy and thick, and to have deep and very rich colors. In addition, their use created an excellent blending of the different colored glazes to occur. Although the U.S. Government did not begin a program to stockpile the minerals that were identified earlier until 1939, the minerals undoubtedly were scarce and expensive years before then.

It appears that due to the scarcity of tin, and its expense, a substitute formula for the onyx was developed. Lead used by itself results in a clear glaze that shows colors well and has depth, but tin was needed to make the old onyx. When lead is combined with tin oxide in proportions of about one part lead to three parts tin, the glaze takes on the onyx characteristics. In the new formula it is not certain if the use of lead was discontinued at this time, but titanium dioxide was substituted for the more scarce tin oxide. The result of the change was a thinner glaze and one which did not produce the deep rich colors and the superb blending as before. For example, the earlier reddish, dark brown that was called “Red Onyx” was now a lighter brown.

There is another difference too. Typically on the older onyx pieces the glaze blending goes down the sides of the piece to the very bottom. The secondary glaze, or glazes, on the latest onyx pieces stops short and does not extend to the bottom. To the left above is an example of a latter day Brush-McCoy piece, and in the center and to the right are two examples of latter day Nelson McCoy pieces. I will discuss more about the Nelson McCoy pottery onyx pieces below.

article7iSince some of the glaze would run off the piece in the older type onyx, it could cause a sticking problem within the kiln when the piece was fired. To remedy this problem additional manufacturing steps had to be adopted.

article7jIn order to eliminate sticking to the kiln plate, or sagger (a large ceramic box that holds the pieces as they are being fired), each piece was placed on a pontil. A pontil is simply a small devise consisting of a base with three small, pointed vertical stilts that are positioned in a triangular shape. These stilts raise the piece above the plate or sagger floor so any excess glaze can drip off and permit the piece to be removed after firing without it sticking.

article7kThe use of a pontil causes the base of the pieces to be irregular due to the varying amount of fired glaze clinging around the edge of the base. Therefore, the base of each piece was placed on a grinding wheel and smoothed so that the piece would sit upright. The grinding creates an unglazed ring, or sometimes a partially unglazed ring, around the perimeter of the base.

Additionally, since the points of the stilts are surrounded by glaze when the piece they support is fired, each stilt leaves a small spot on the bottom when the stilt is removed from the piece. These marks which resemble little popped blisters are called pontil marks. In the photo to left may be seen the three evenly spaced marks around the inside perimeter.

article7lIn the early 1930’s, after the onyx glaze formula was changed the severity of the sticking problem was decreased, since the secondary glaze(s) did flow all of the way to and off the bottom of the pieces.

This allowed the use of the pontil to be discontinued. Care was still necessary however, to prohibit the primary glaze from sticking, but alternative methods were available.

One method was to scrape the glaze off the bottom of each piece before firing, but a faster and better way was soon adopted. This method involved the use of hot wax. According to Nelson McCoy, this method was used by his pottery, and it is assumed that it was used by the Brush-McCoy pottery too.

In this method, each dipper or glaze person had a hot plate and skillet that contained a piece of carpet that had a certain knap and thickness, and lots of wax. The dipper would lower each bisque piece into the wax soaked carpet to a depth just enough to coat the very bottom of each piece. On pieces that had a bottom with a concave center surrounded by a raised outer ring, the wax would just be applied to the outer ring. On other flat-bottom pieces, the wax would cover the entire bottom. After the wax was applied the piece was fired. During the firing the wax eliminated any sticking and it would burn away leaving no trace.

It was necessary that the dipper kept the wax at a certain height in the hot skillet, because if too little wax was applied to the foot, the piece would catch glaze and stick, and if there was too much wax, the piece would have a bare place on the side where there was no glaze.

Besides the lack of pontil marks on the newer type onyx, there is one other difference between the older and newer onyx pieces. The older pieces were made using a yellowish, colored clay, whereas the newer pieces were made using a white or cream-colored clay.

As time went on the Brush pottery continued making onyx pieces throughout the years of its existence, but as mentioned above, the J.W. McCoy, Brush-McCoy, and the Brush potteries were not the only makers of onyx ware. After the name of the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co. was changed in 1933 to the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co., they also produced an onyx line.

It is believed that the onyx formula Nelson McCoy first used was the thick glaze formula that had the rich coloring, just as the J.W. McCoy and Brush-McCoy potteries used. A 1933 Nelson McCoy catalog page showing the shape of the pieces the pottery initially made is given on page 14. Information does not exist to showing a subsequent grouping of Nelson McCoy onyx pieces. However, a number of individual pieces, mainly jardinières and vases, are known to have been produced.

Compared to solid colored pottery, or pottery with blended colors, the production of onyx, as has been shown, is a more labor-intensive operation. For this reason, or a decreased demand, or some other cause, the Nelson McCoy pottery only made onyx pieces for a few years, probably less than three or four. After that time, the production of blended glazes became the multi-glaze method of choice. Along with this glazing style and the use of solid colored glazes, in both bright and matte shades, the Nelson McCoy pottery produced many other innovative glazing styles throughout the life of the pottery.

A Little Know Coffee Pot Set

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Ima Pott

Shown here is a little known coffee pot, and even a less known covered creamer and sugar. All were made by the Nelson McCoy pottery. The set was produced under contract with the Sutton Company. As seen below, the pieces are marked “Sutton USA.” The exact date of production is not known, but it was probably made around 1970.

article6c article6a article6b

The McCoy Pottery and the Water Extended Polyester Idea

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

In 1967, David Chase of Chase Enterprises acquired the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. As is always the case, the new owner had his own ideas about what the company should do and how it should be run. One of the new things “imposed on the pottery” was the use of water extended polyester to produce several new product lines. However, the idea did not turn out as envisioned – in fact it failed. Here is the story.

Around the time Chase bought the McCoy pottery and made it a subsidiary of the Mount Clemens Pottery, he also purchased a small vacuum plating company. This company was moved to the McCoy pottery and it set up shop there. (I wrote about the vacuum plating idea in the October 2003 Journal.) But, in addition to vacuum plating, the company also produced molded pieces for McCoy using water extended polyester rather than clay. For simplicity sake, consider water extended polyester as just plastic.

The first items produced by the McCoy pottery using the new substance were the five snack tray bases shown at the bottom of the following page. These snack trays, which were advertised as the “WOODTONE LINE,” came out in 1971. Shown below is the Woodtone Line price list. The line was discontinued after only one year.


The next plastic products were a group of wall decorations and mirrors. These products were designed by “Aladar” who is better known as Al Klubert. Several samples are included herein, but the full catalog pages are shown in the book by Craig Nissen entitled, “McCoy Pottery Wall Pockets & Wall Decorations.” These pages show all of the wall plaques and mirrors produced and all the available colors.

Just as in the case of the plastic trays, the wall decorations and mirrors evidently were not a big hit with the public. They too, were discontinued after only one year. According to Nelson McCoy “this venture cost a lot of money in labor, development, sales and advertising, etc.” But it was “a product line that was inferior, and warped badly with age.” Maybe this, together with the fact that “sales were less than fair” explains why these plastic items are rarely seen for sale in antique shops and malls. But, be on the look out because one never knows what will turn up.

articles_clip_image002_0003 articles_clip_image004_0003 articles_clip_image006_0000 articles_clip_image008 articles_clip_image010 articles_clip_image012

McCoy Limited

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Chiquita Prestwood

McCoy Limited is one of the eras of McCoy Pottery Collecting that draws new interest. Nelson and Billie McCoy established this company and produced numerous pieces after their retirement from Nelson McCoy Pottery. Billie did most of the design work. Various holiday motifs were followed in designing the items during this time and most are marked either McCoy Ltd. or McCoy Limited.

Presented here are only a few of the items to serve as a general representation of the McCoy Limited pieces. Once you determine the style of the items it will be easier to know what to look for on your “hunts”. I will present additional items in future articles.

Only two McCoy Limited cookie jars were produced. Both have a Christmas theme. One is a Santa Claus that doubles as a bank. The other is a Bell with Christmas decals on each side.

articles_clip_image002_0000 articles_clip_image004_0000
Easter is represented by a Cross-vase, as well as a Cracked Eggs planter, a Duck Planter, and a Bunny.

Halloween is a favorite holiday of many and is well represented by various sizes of Jack-O-Lantern items. Among these are cups, napkin holder, salt and pepper set, and different shapes, such as different size ghosts, that are perfect to set over candles for that frightening effect.

Other pieces of this type are The Haunted House, which shares the limelight with McSkull – the shape of a human skull.

articles_clip_image004_0001Another one is The Witches Hat Snack Server, which is one of my favorites. Of course, there are many pumpkin designs with names like Punkin’ Patch. Then there are black cats. It wouldn’t be Halloween without a black cat.

Thanksgiving turkeys are plentiful. Then the pieces run from a serving tray to salt and pepper shakers, to candle holders and a covered candy dish. Thanksgiving is another holiday that is covered quite well.

articles_clip_image002_0002 articles_clip_image004_0002
Christmas is the favorite holiday for many, and there’s no reason not to have your McCoy Limited Christmas pieces on display during this time of the year. There are numerous sizes of Christmas Trees, some have the miniature bulbs and wiring for lighting.

Another design is the Christmas Scarf People, which are various Christmas figures with scarves. Also there is the Christmas Line (trees, Santas, Holly, etc.)

Various other lines of McCoy Limited include McLights, which are figural candleholders, Candle Columns (Various sizes of columnar candleholders), Decorators Collection (various designs), and Collectibles, such as bells, music boxes and candleholders.

As mentioned above, the pieces shown are only a few representative items. More of these pretty pieces will be shown in future articles.

About Clay and How It Was Used by the Nelson McCoy Pottery

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

We all know that the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company began in 1910, but did you know that the clay the pottery used at that time was laid down between 325 to 290 million years ago? This time period is called the Pennsylvanian and back then the climate and the Ohio landscape were very different than they are today. Back then much of the state and in fact the whole southeastern portion of the United States, was a low-lying area that was repeatedly inundated by ocean waters. Eroded soil and minerals from the highland rocks washed down and was deposited in the shallow water bottoms. Then, at intervals, many hundred of thousands of years later, the waters would recede and lush vegetation would cover the landscape. Gradually the climatic conditions would reverse and the waters would return killing the vegetation. As time progressed the eroded sediment would cover the decayed vegetation. Eventually the decayed vegetation would turn into coal and the eroded sediments would form a clay layer of various types, or form some rock-type formation. Determined from the number of coal beds found in the Zanesville region, there were over sixteen separate cycles of inundation and dry periods during the Pennsylvanian.

Due to the various amounts and types of soils and minerals that were eroded and deposited at each interval, all of the clay layers have some distinguishing characteristics. One of these clays known as Lower Kittanning, was found to be particularly useful in making stoneware. Kittanning is high-grade, buff or yellowish colored, plastic clay with few impurities. In the early days of the McCoy pottery, this is the clay that was used. Sometime around 1923 a mixture of 1/3 Kittanning clay and 2/3 Tionesta clay was used. Tionesta is another good, buff colored stoneware clay that lies at a greater depth and is older than the Kittanning. Both the Lower Kittanning and Tionesta would have been white clays, except that they contain a relative small amount of iron oxide.

As indicated by the original name of the McCoy pottery, the ware that the company first produced was stoneware. Stoneware is extremely strong and will not absorb water. It is fired at kiln temperatures ranging from 1200 ° C – 1300 ° C. A temperature in this range causes the clay to vitrify, i.e., it melts and fuses together and becomes glass-like, and is non-porous. Because stoneware is nonporous, it does not require a glaze to made it waterproof. However, when stoneware is glazed the glaze serves a purely decorative function. Initially the McCoy pottery used a salt glaze. This type glaze is applied while the ware is being fired in the kiln. Later a brown-colored slip glaze was also used, usually for the top one-half of croaks, jugs, churns, and similar items. These slip-type glazes normally require a second firing.

During the 1930’s the demand for utilitarian stoneware was in a decline. The Great Depression played a significant role in this decline. As time went on the public demand gradually changed from stoneware to colorful, decorative pieces. In response to the change in the demand, the pottery re-organized in 1933 and became known as the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. Then in 1934, Sidney Cope was hired to assist Chief Designer Walter Bauer in designing the new wares. By 1936 Cope became the Chief Designer.

At first, various decorative designs were added to the sides of the same type symmetrical shapes that were formerly produced. The principle method used to produce these older pieces was by jiggering, which is a more efficient method than the hand method where a piece is formed by hand on a potter’s wheel. Curve-sided pieces, such as churns and jugs, were also produced by jiggering. These pieces are made in three operations. First, the bottom half of one of these pieces is jiggered, and in separate operation the top half is jiggered. Finally, the two pieces joined together and fired to form the completed piece.

In the jiggering process an appropriate amount of soft plastic clay is placed inside a rotating plaster mold that forms the outside shape of the piece, say a jardiniere. Then an arm that has been formed into the desired size and shape of the inside of the jardiniere is lowered into the mold to the proper depth to force the clay against bottom and sides. The excess clay that extrudes above the top of the mold is cut off and the mold is removed from the wheel and allowed to dry. When enough drying has occurred the clay shrinks to the point where the ware can be safely removed from the mold.

The jiggering process had been invented in 1870, and it was still the production technique of choice when the Nelson McCoy pottery was established in1910. Jiggered stoneware at the pottery reigned supreme for nearly three decades, however the further decrease in demand for stoneware in the late 1930’s marked the time of change. One change was that the pottery began earthenware production. This ceramic type gradually replaced stoneware and it was the type ware that was produced throughout the remaining life of the pottery.

Earthenware is also made from fired clay, but it is fired at a lower temperature than stoneware, and it is porous and readily absorbs water. Typically, earthenware is glazed and fired a second time. During this second firing the fine glaze particles covering the surface fuse into a glass-like layer, sealing the pores of the clay body. Another benefit of this second firing is decorative in nature. It allows the various pieces to be produced in all types of glaze colors.

The most significant production change made during the 1940’s was made because the new more complex designs wanted by the public could not be produced by jiggering; they had to be cast. In the casting production method a dense slip, i.e. a clay slurry, is poured into usually two or three piece plaster mold. The absorbent plaster pulls water from the slurry and over a short period of time a clay layer builds up against the inside surface of the mold. When the desired thickness is reached the remaining slurry is poured out. The mold is allowed to dry for a brief time and as it does, the stiffened clay inside shrinks slightly. The mold is then separated and the item removed.

Although casting was a brand new production technique for the pottery, and a necessary one, it did not totally replace the jiggering method. But then in the mid-1940s another innovation, the ram press was invented. It was another valuable addition to the pottery for certain simple-shaped pieces after 1950. In the ram press process, a two-piece, hard plaster mold is used. One-half of the mold of some simple shape, such as a bowl or plate, is placed on the bed of the press and the other half on the ram, which is positioned directly above the bed mold. An appropriate amount of plastic clay is placed on the base mold and the ram is activated. It lowers onto the base mold and as the two mold halves meet, the clay is pressed against the two molds under high pressure. Excess clay extrudes from the sides of the mold and the desired shape is produced. Along with jiggering, the ram press and the casting process were used through the life of the pottery.

The local Lower Kittanning and Tionesta clays were used by the pottery for years and produced suitable wares through both the jiggering and the ram press processes. Both are high-grade plastic clays, however for making castings and glazing slips there is better type clay and it is one that has the most desirable characteristic for these purposes. The best clay for casting and glaze slips is one that has the ability to thoroughly mix with water. The premiere clay for these uses is called Ball clay.

Ball clay is an extremely rare mineral found in very few places around the world. The particles making up this clay have the smallest size of any clay, and the clay is the most plastic, the most sticky, and has a high rate of shrinkage upon drying. The small particle size produces excellent clay slurries. Kaolinite is the predominate clay mineral in Ball clay and as a result of this, and the lack of impurities, the clay has a white color after firing.

Although casting was known to potters in American since before the Civil War, the need for the Nelson McCoy pottery to adopt this technique was not necessary until the decision was made in the 1930’s to go into “art pottery” production. It is believed that the use of the white-burning Ball clay by the pottery for glazes predates the full-scale use of it for casting. The plan to produce highly decorative pieces by casting was most probably stymied by political events, which dictated it would be a slow start. Because of the lack of pottery demand and rationing brought on by World War II, from 1941 to 1945, the McCoy pottery only produced about 10 percent of the number of (non-military) items that were produced immediately before the war. A large military contract to produce landmine casings was of great benefit to the pottery during this bleak time.

Following the war the demand for pottery slowly increased and the number of different pieces produced by the pottery also increased. Many new designs were added to the inventory each year and probably a few of these pieces were cast. However, casting had not come to the forefront yet and jiggering was still the major production technique. Even the production of many of the large jiggered stoneware pieces was continued after the war, until about 1950.

The year 1950 was a real turning point in the history of the pottery. A fire that year destroyed the entire manufacturing portion of the pottery. It was decided that rather than just rebuild, the pottery would begin anew with all new and modern equipment. It is believed that the casting process was emphasized in the modernization.

Following the fire, some production resumed at the pottery after about six months, but full production was not achieved until about 18 months had passed. Luckily, the pottery modernization was just in time to take advantage of the 1950’s boom in pottery demand. It is believed that this was the time that the casting process began in full force. In keeping with the plan to have a state-of-the-art pottery plant and the need to convert to casting as a major production process, along with the demise of stoneware, it is likely that the use of Ball clay now became the principle clay used by the pottery.

Since Ball clay is not available in the Zanesville region, it had to be acquired from outside sources. The McCoy pottery first arranged to acquire the clay from the Cooley Clay Co. located in Kentucky. The larger, Old Hickory Clay Co. of Hickory, Kentucky later acquired this company. Old Hickory was founded in1918 and has several large mines in western Kentucky and western Tennessee. The mine that supplied Ball clay to the McCoy pottery is located in Gleason, Tennessee. The white, Kaolinite clay from this mine was used until the pottery closed in 1990.

Nelson McCoy TV Lamps

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Ima Pot

The end of World War II brought many changes to the United States. The need for continual sacrifice was over. Families that had accumulated some saving during the war years were now free and able to purchase the things they needed, as well as, some luxuries. One of the things most families had to have was a television set. In 1948, this universal desire led to an explosion of sets in the marketplace. In August of that year there were two million sets in the US. By the end of 1950, there were 9.5 million sets in use, and by the middle of 1951, the number had grown to 13 million. But this was only the beginning – the number of sets steadedly grew with each passing year.

The early TV’s were heavy, boxy contraptions, and they were filled with vacuum tubes of all shapes and sizes, only to provide a viewing screen of six to eight inches wide. The pictures had a gray and white tone, and were fuzzy and dim. They were best viewed from a position not too far away from the set and in a darken room.

The new medium brought a new type entertainment right into the home, but it came with a negative criticism. TV’s gave off a weird pale light, that many people associated with some type of radiation, As you may recall, radiation was a big topic in the 1950’s. However, TV sets were not found to give off any measurable level of radiation, and there was no evidence that radiation from TV sets had resulted in human injury. Despite the evidence, and the assurance of TV manufacturers that everything was safe, many people believe otherwise. There was another concern too. The idea abounded that staring at that weird, fuzzy light for hours was probably bad for your eyesight. The concern for retaining good eyesight is what led to the invention of the TV lamp.

The lamps presented a decorative view from the front and had a small light bulb in the rear. They were positioned on top of the TV, and they produced an indirect light that illuminated the room by reflecting the light off the wall behind the TV. Experts in the field sanctioned this indirect lighting. While the lamps were decorative, they were considered by some to be a medical necessity. With a TV lamp in place, the fear of the public was releaved and everything was then okay. In fact, they satisified the public concern so well the production of the lamps had to keep pace with the booming TV production.

The 1950’s and 60’s were the hay day of the TV lamps. In the years following, as the TV screens got larger and brighter, people could sit further back from the screen. The muted room light given off by the TV lamp was no longer needed, and the use and production of the lamps entered into a quick decline.

During the time of their demand, the Nelson McCoy Pottery contributed their share of lamps. Shown here are TV lamps made by the company. The first three lamps, the Panther, Mermaid, and the Fireplace do not appear in the company catalogs. However, they have been accepted as McCoy’s since the early 1970’s, apparently through pottery employee reports.


The Log, Sunflower, Auto, and Bird Dog, are all shown in the company catalogs as planters, which indicates that the lamps are also McCoy products.


Some people have attributed the following two pieces to the Nelson McCoy Pottery; however, there is no verifying information.

The auto is marked Buckingham Ceramics, and although McCoy did do business with them, notably the Wishing Well table lamp, neither the auto, nor the deer lamp, have been shown, or reliably reported, to be a McCoy product.
07i 07j

Did You Know?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Ima Pot

07k 07l

The 5-inch by 5–inch jardinière shown at left is part of the Nelson McCoy “Rustic Line.” This line was introduced in 1945. Did you know that here are two sizes of this jardinière? The other size is 6¾ inches by 6¾ inches. The 5-inch x 5-inch Rustic jardinière was issued for two years, in 1945 and 1946. Thereafter, the colors were Turquoise, Coral, and Yellow. These colors were issued from 1947 to 1953. The larger, 6¾-inch by 6¾-inch Rustic jardinière was issued in 1945, and possibly 1946. Information from the company catalog provides some details concerning these two jardinières, but what about the 6-inch by 6-inch Rustic jardinière with surreal faces shown to the right. Considering the glaze coloring, it must also be assigned to the Rustic Line, but there is no catalog information concerning it. What seems to have happened is that McCoy first issued the surreal faces jardinière in late 1944 or early 1945, and evidently, customer acceptance was negative. As a result, the jardinière was redesigned and issued in the two styles and two sizes mentioned above. All of these Rustic jardinières are not very common, particularly the large size and the one with surreal faces.

In 1979 the Nelson McCoy Pottery issued the Islander Collection of Kitchenware. Among the pieces offered was a Bundt Cake Pan in the shape shown below. The pan came in three solid colors, Cream, White, and Yellow. Evidently, the Islander Collection did not sell well, since the line was only available for one year. 07m However, selected pieces from the collection continued to be issued as part of other lines in following years. One of these pieces was the Bundt Cake Pan. Although there is no catalog information about it, the pan shown here is a Brown Drip over a Cream-Colored body. Apparently, the pan was a piece that was offered only one year as part of the Graystone Kitchen and Dinnerware Line. This line came out in 1980, and was discontinued in 1981.

07nA short time ago the ornate, 7-inch tall pitcher shown here surfaced, and was acquired from a Canadian collector. It is unmarked and has a flat unglazed bottom. The pitcher is thought to have been designed at the Nelson McCoy Pottery, although it was never produced for commercial sale. There is very little information on the pitcher, and only three of them are generally known to exist. A collector in Whitinsville, MA owns the second of the known pitchers. The other pitcher was in the Ty Kuhn collection. Ty Kuhn worked at the McCoy pottery for almost fifty years, and retired in 1980 as a Managing Ceramic Engineer. In his position at the pottery, he had daily oversight of all production. This together with the fact that he had this style pitcher in his collection with other uncommon pieces of McCoy, has lead to the belief that it is a Nelson McCoy product.

07o Pictured to the left is an uncommon, 8-inch tall, Coffee Server, with a floral decal. The body is White, and has a fired-on decal featuring a delicate Pink rose, and Green leaves. The Nelson McCoy Pottery first issued this shape Coffee Server in 1957. It was part of the Sunburst Gold Line. In 1958 and 1959, the server came out in Turquoise, Yellow, and Pink, all with a Flecked finish. None of the servers produced during these three years had a decal. The above is the only catalog information that pertains to this Coffee Server. However, we do know, from collector “finds”, that the server was also produced in Mist Blue with White horizontal streaks, like the Harmony Line. This server is marked “Esmond”, which indicates it was made under contract with them. This probably occurred in the early 1960’s. In addition to the server shown here, three other floral decals on White servers are known, but we do not know for sure when the Coffee Server was first issued in White, or when any of the servers with decals were issued. Although these servers are marked “McCoy”, they are not included in the general sales catalogs. This probably means that they were also produced under contract.

In 1980, the Nelson McCoy Pottery issued a new type pot and saucer. It was called a “Water Guard Planter”. The following is a company advertisement introducing the new planter. 07p

07q Just surfaced is this uncommonly glazed pitcher and bowl set shown at left. This shape pitcher and bowl was first issued by the Nelson McCoy Pottery in 1979, but it was a White, or Cream colored, with a floral decal.

This shape set was made until the pottery was sold in 1985, with a variety of different glazes and decals. However, the particular glaze shown here, a Brown top area on the pitcher and bowl over White, is uncommon. There is no catalog information on this style glaze, although other type glazes and decals are described.The pitcher is 5½-inches tall, the bowl is 2-inches tall, and about 8-inches wide. Both pieces are marked with Style Number 7528, McCoy, LCC, and USA.

07rShown here to the right is a not often seen Goose Pitcher. Nelson McCoy Ceramics (Designer Accents) produced and issued the pitcher in the late 1980’s. The pitcher is part of a line called Country Accents.

07s Pictured to the left is another seldom seen pitcher. The colors are a mottled Blue and White.The 7¾-inch tall, unmarked pitcher, was made by the Nelson McCoy Pottery from 1975 to 1978. It was originally issued with a basin.

07t The lamp base shown has a Blue-Black blended glaze. The lamp base was made from Style Number 10, 7-inch tall vase, which was first issued by the Nelson McCoy Pottery in the early 1930’s. Originally, the vase, which is unmarked, was part of Nelson McCoy Senior’s Loy-Nel-Art Line, a line-name he copied from his father J.W. McCoy. When it was first issued, there were solid colors of Blue, light Yellow, light Green, and light Brown, with hand decorated Green leaves and Red berries. By 1938, the last year of production, the colors of the vase were solid Matte colors of White, Green, Rose, and Blue, with no decorative coloring. It is not known exactly when the uncommonly glazed lamp base shown was produced, but is was probably between the middle and late 1930’s.


Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Frank “Floraline” Poolas

When is a tea pot not a tea pot? When it is a cookie jar? McCoy used the teapot and tea kettle shape at least a half dozen times. In my previous articles, (Vol. 2, issue 2 and 3) two cookie kettle designs were covered. The cookie jars in this design that seemed most confusing to me to decipher were Teapot, jar #185 and Kettle jar #209. These two jars are extremely alike in shape and color, and to add to the confusion the picture of jar #185 in Harold Nichols book, “McCoy Cookie Jars, From the First to the Last”, is pictured with a unknown bail. Let us take a look at these two jars so as to educate ourselves about the differences.

First, both jars are the same in color, Antique Bronze with hammered effect. Jar #209 titled “Kettle” was made first, from1962 to 1964, and jar #185 titled “Teapot” was made in 1974. The Jar measurements are as follows:

Title & #
of Bail
# 209
# 185

The shapes of the metal bails differ and are not interchangeable. Kettle jar #209 has a bail shaped like the roof of a barn and the lugs at the ends are about 1/4” in diameter. In the picture below, the bail on the Teapot jar #185 is not fully upright and therefore looks shorter than the bail on the #209 jar. However, the bail on the #185 jar is actually 1” taller. Also, the bail on the #185 jar has a wavy shape, and the lugs are about 5/32” in diameter. Both bails are metal and have a copper-color plating.

Now, let us look at the lids. The lids will interchange, but the #209 lid fits very sloppy on the #185 jar. Additionally, the #209 lid comes to a dome, whereas the #185 lid is flat. Also the #185 jar is marked on the underside of the lid with the number 185.

The markings on the bottom of these two jars are as follows, Kettle #209 is marked “McCoy USA,” and Teapot #185 is marked either with “McCoy USA” or “McCoy USA 185”. Keep an eye out for these jars and examine them the next chance you get. Remember the #185 Teapot was only made one year and is a little tougher to find.


McCoy Limited Bells

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Chiquita Prestwood

Shown here are only four of the Bells that were made by McCoy Limited. These items are not often found and they are not marked as McCoy Limited. However, they do show up on McCoy Limited catalog pages. All the colors are under glaze which makes them durable and they are very colorful and attractive.

First is the Santa Bell. It measures 6″ tall and matches the McCoy Limited Santa Cookie Jar. Small ceramic ‘ringers’ are attached through a tiny hole in the back.

The Reindeer Bell is shown next. Standing a little taller at 7″ the bell is decorated with holly leaves and berries. The deer has antlers as well as very pretty facial features…nice eye lashes!

Following along in this holiday motif is the Snowman bell. He is 6 l/4″ tall and his bottom (bell) is shaped in swirls. He is nicely accented with his broom and pink scarf. He has ‘coal’ buttons, nice facial features and of course, his black top hat.

Finally comes spring with the Bunny Rabbit Bell. The bunny is grey with pink accents and around the bottom of the bell are green blades of grass.

All of the bells do have a very pleasant ‘ring’ to them. There are other bells in the McCoy Limited line and I’ll show more of them in the future. Thanks Nelson and Billie for these delightful designs.
mlb1 mlb2 mlb3 mlb4

A Discussion of Glazes

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Dewayne Imsand

Making a piece of colored pottery is a very complex task. There is much work performed in every step necessary to have a successful outcome. During the early days though, when many farmers had their small “Blue Bird” potteries, the principal glaze was made from salt. At the proper temperature, a small quantity of salt was simply thrown into the kiln. The salt would vaporize and cover all the pieces in the kiln with a shinny clear coating. Toward the end of the 1800’s, colorful glazes were created to enhance the more decorative designs. This is a much more difficult task than it may appear.

A glaze, which is simply a thin coating of glass, begins as a suspension of ground silica, and clays, in water. The silica and the clays join and perform three functions. The first ingredient, silica, is the major ingredient, and it is the glass former. That is the first function, however silica cannot be used alone to make glazes because its melting point is much too high. The clay bisque (a piece of pottery fired without glaze) would melt in the kiln long before the silica would.

What enables the use of silica is the addition of a flux. The flux performs the second function, which is to lower the melting point of the silica. For glazes that are fired at a lower temperature, sodium may be used as a flux, and for higher fired glazes, Calcium carbonate is often used.

Another ingredient that must be added to make an acceptable glaze is alumina (aluminum oxide clay). It performs the third function, which is to control the shrinkage of the glaze. Because the glaze is applied to bisque pieces that will shrink during the glaze firing, the glaze itself must also shrink and match the amount of bisque shrinkage. (Crazing is the result of mismatched shrinkage rates.) The appropriate amount of shrinkage is achieved by the addition of a precise amount of alumina.

There are many substitute sources for each of the glaze ingredients. Also, many substances perform, to varying degrees, the function of more than one component. For example, feldspar provides differing amounts of all three ingredients, silica, flux, and alumina.

In addition to the selection of, and proper proportion of, each ingredient, there is one basic requirement that all glaze ingredients must have, and that is they must be insoluble in water. The reason is that glazes are water suspensions. The only part that the water plays is to transport the glaze ingredients onto the surface of the bisque pieces. If one of the glaze ingredients were soluble, the bisque would adsorb it along with the water, and the ingredient would not properly interact with the other ingredients when it is fired, and it would not properly coat the bisque.

Incidentally, there are many methods used to apply glaze onto the surface of the bisque. A glaze may be applied by dipping, pouring, spraying, brushing, sponging, squeeze bag, or some combination of these techniques. Each technique produces its own special effect.

The glaze ingredients described above result in a base glaze. However, a base glaze may have a finish that is glossy, semi-gloss, or matte, depending on the firing temperature. Firing at a higher temperatures yields a glaze with a glossy finish, and firing at a lower temperature yields a matte finished glaze.

To make a colored glaze, various metal oxides, (or carbonates) are added to the base glaze mixture. Additionally, another ingredient, bentonite (a clay), is typically added. Bentonite promotes a uniform glaze mixture, or slurry, by reducing the settling of the oxides or carbonates in the water. In addition, there is a routine stirring of the slurry to keep the solid particles uniformly suspended in the water.

The various oxides or carbonates that can be added result in many different colors. The resulting colors depend greatly on the percentage of the material used, the kiln temperature, and the type of firing conditions in the kiln. There are two types of firings that potters may use in order to create various colors. They are oxidation firing, and reduction firing. Oxidation firing describes a condition in the kiln where there is ample air (oxygen) flow. Reduction firing is a condition in the kiln in which the flow of air is deficient. Because the airflow in reduction firing is reduced, it results in incomplete burning of the fuel, say natural gas, that is used to heat the kiln. The incomplete burning causes an increase level of specific gases in the kiln, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen. These gases are very aggressive in wanting to combine with oxygen, and since there is not enough air inside the kiln, they steal it from the glazes. When metallic oxides, for example, give up oxygen they convert to their reduced, or more metallic form. This change is the reason reduction firing produces different colors and visual effects than would be produced when metal oxides are fired with an ample airflow.

The following are examples of a few metallic oxides and the colors that they produce using different percentages of the oxides, and firing types. The variation in the colors that the oxides produce is governed by the kiln temperature that is used. There are many types of metallic oxides that could be used, and considering the differing percentages of them, the two firing types, and the various kiln temperatures, there are very many different possible combinations.

AMOUNT (percent)
Cobalt oxide
blue, blue-violet
Iron oxide
jade green celadon
Iron oxide
iron yellows
Iron oxide
Iron oxide
brick red (khaki)
Iron oxide
Iron oxide
amber-greenish browns
Manganese dioxide
honey browns
Chrome oxide
browns, pinks, and reds
Copper oxide
turquoise blues, greens
reds, purples
Vanadium pent oxide

In addition to the glaze color, potters may also apply a luster, a china paint (gold is an example), or a decal, and then do another firing to achieve a color, or surface effect that is not possible in glaze firing alone. Lusters are very thin coatings of metallic substances that produce iridescent effects. These lusters, and all over-glaze techniques, are fired at a relative, extremely low temperature, and because of that, they produce brighter colors than can be achieved through a routine glaze firings. However, the low temperature that is used is sufficient to melt the over-glaze, but not the original underlying glaze. The over-glaze, or decal, melts onto the original glaze and fuses.

Some may have thought that it was the designer had the most difficult job, but it is also a “tough” job to develop a particular colored glaze, or to operate the kiln correctly. Also, these jobs are critical ones too. With all of the exacting work involved in making a colorful piece of pottery, it is no wonder that some techniques that potters use are closely guarded. This is especially true with glaze formulas.

One Day at the Alexander House

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Ed Alexander

image250Recently, I was just having a “nothing special day”, when suddenly, my phone rings. I answered it saying “Hello”, and here is what came next.

“Hello Ed?”


“This is Nelson McCoy – I’m from Ohio and used to own the…”

“For goodness sake Nelson, I know exactly who you are – I’m just trying to catch my breath and formulate some words to speak to you.”

I was shocked. The “Man”, Nelson McCoy, was actually calling me! It was lunchtime and the restaurant was a bit noisy, and not recognizing the area code, I went outside to take the call. One can only imagine. I have only been collecting McCoy pottery for about 10 years, and at the beginning, I thought the one book that I had found in a bookstore was all that there was. Well, that was wrong.

If you collect McCoy pottery I swear I believe it multiplies inside the covers of the collector books. I see something different every time I peruse the pages, or get one of our collector periodicals. It is amazing. In addition, I am way out of space (sound familiar?).

However, I digress.

Nelson told me that he and Billie were in Wilmington visiting their daughter, and he had received my phone number from the collector of all collectors, Chiquita Prestwood, a name that I had seen in books so many times in my first efforts to find McCoy.

We talked for a little bit, and then I found out that Nelson and Billie actually wanted to come by and visit with Tony and me at our home. I was totally beside myself. It was as if a rock star was coming by. I guessed that my collection must have reached their ears. Why, after seeing all the McCoy ever made, would they really want to see my stuff while they were on vacation of all things?

Anyway, they came by and the two hours of looking and visiting went by so quickly, actually too quickly for me. After they left, and after I had reflected on all the conversation, and after it seemed that they looked at my entire collection piece by piece, I realized that Nelson and Billie do so much for all of us. They are genuinely interested in what we do as collectors. They promote what we do by calling on collectors. They are real people, warm and friendly.

As they were leaving, Nelson said, “Billie and I hope you and Tony will call on us the next time you are in Ohio.”

“Nelson and Billie, you can count on it”

“Thanks for dropping by.”

In telling you the story of what happened one day at my house, I wanted to include a few snapshots that were taken during the visit of the Daddy and Momma of the pottery I love to collect.

The following snapshots have become an important part of my McCoy collection, and they are a special memento of a special visit by two special people.

image251 image252 image253

A Non-Production Quadruple Bulb Bowl

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Reported by B. J. Steins

Collectors of Nelson McCoy pottery are familiar with a piece called the Triple Bulb Bowl. Well, recently surfaced is this non-production, Quadruple Bulb Bowl.

The quadruple bowl is 11-inches long, nine inches wide, and five inches tall. It found in a farmhouse in Alamance County, North Carolina .

The four-colored bowl begins with dark green near the base, merging to a pale green, then to a creamy white, and finally to a pale pink at the top.

The bowl has four feet, and on bottom of three of them, there are worker notations scratched into the bisque. On one foot there is “111U”, another has “640 pink”, and on the third foot there is “tpot green”. In the center of the bowl bottom is an embossed McCoy, with a perpendicular USA.

For some reason a decision was made not to produce the quadruple bulb bowl, but produce a triangular version instead. Apparently, the quad bowl was a forerunner to the 1950’s Triple Bulb Bowl.

So, from the way things look, we all need to remain on our toes while shopping, because it is clear that everything that the McCoy pottery made has not been found yet.

image247 image248 image249

Uncommon Nelson McCoy Pieces

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

image242The Cereal Bowl shown here is ivory, with brown flecks, and has a pattern of swirls around the lip that is in alternating colors of turquoise and brown. The bowl has diameter of 5½-inches and is two inches tall. It is marked “McCoy U.S.A.” This flecked bowl was first produced without decorations in 1958.

image243To the left is a round planter with a 7-inch diameter. It is 5-inches tall. The name of the decal pattern is Red Antique Rose. The planter is marked with a “McCoy U.S.A.”

image244The mixing bowl shown here has a golden brown glaze with a lighter, golden colored foamy band around the lip. The bowl has an 8-inch diameter and is 4½ – inches tall. The bottom is marked “McCoy U.S.A. Oven Proof”. This bowl was first issued in different colors in 1957, and it has been re-issued many times in different colors since then.


image245The 22 ounce pitcher shown to the left is style number 150. It was produced for a number of years, but it was first issued in 1955. It came in three sizes, 22 oz, 48 oz, and 64 oz. The colors were red, green, or brown, all with a frosty white over-drip. The pitcher has an embossed “McCoy USA” mark.

Here is a common Nelson McCoy mug with an unusual decoration. This shape mug was first issued in 1977 in the Canyon Line of kitchenware. Obviously the mug to the right was made under contract, possibly to the name on the decal. The decal reads, “UKRAINE Crafts The Pier St. Petersburg, FLA.”


My Pink Poppy Story

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

image241I just wanted to share a very nice story with the Society. I live in Louisiana, and my sisters and I are avid McCoy collectors. A few weeks ago, we went to one of our regular antique spots here in New Orleans, and to our surprise, the shop had a McCoy Poppy.

The most shocking part about this was the selling price. The poppy is in mint condition; all the colors are bright and vibrant. The sale price was $50.00! So, with out thinking any more about it, my sister snapped it up.

When she got to the counter, as all serious collectors do, she asked if $50.00 was the rock bottom price! The sales person thought for a minute, and then she said she would take $10.00 off! Long story short, my sister got a mint, Pink Poppy planter for $43.00 including tax!

My other sister and I are so jealous, but we both had to admit, what a find!

How I Came To Love McCoy Pottery

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

I’m a little intimidated in writing my story, as there are so many of you that are so much more knowledgeable than I could ever hope to be. However, here is my story.

My love of McCoy, and other pottery, was by accident. It is something that crept up on me like a thief in the night. Before I knew it I was, as my dear husband says, obsessed.

My husband and I love gardening and we spend many a spring and summer afternoon planting, weeding, mowing, and general yard work. Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, etc. is where I used to purchase all my planters. Then I discovered eBay, but best of all I discovered “pottery”, what I call the good stuff! No more imported junk for me.

Unexpectedly one day my beloved Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It soon became impossible to leave her alone. During this period, I had to make decisions that affected us financially. Refusing to put mother in a nursing home, I became her full-time caregiver. In an attempt to bring in a few dollars here and there, I began selling on eBay, which led me to visit garage sales, estate sales, and a few auctions. My activities yielded a little additional money, and planters galore of all colors, sizes, and makes. I soon had a vase here, a planter there, and both everywhere. In turn, this led me to wonder, “What do these letters, numbers, and other marks mean on the underside of them”.

I started out knowing absolutely nothing about pottery, but thank goodness for the Internet. I soon began to identify a few of them, but I am still in the learning process, and, I guess, I will be for a very long time. As my knowledge grew I auctioned more and more on eBay, and I did okay, but my heart was not in auctioning. I knew I had discovered my niche’, although now I had a dilemma.

What in the world was I going to do with all of the vases, planters, and whatever that I was accumulating? We had moved into an old house, and had been slowly making progress with renovations and updating. I had decided to keep the cornices (window treatments), and it dawned upon me that this would be a perfect setting for my cherished planters – so viola, that problem was solved for what now just seems like a minute. To make a long story short I have planters and vases everywhere. They line my steps going upstairs; they are in and on cabinets, shelves, and anywhere else that I can fit them. However, as I have said, I do not have a handle on the identity of all of them yet. I know who made some of them, but there are others that I do not have a clue. Nevertheless, it does not matter – I love them all.

With most of the space in my house taken, I developed a new policy. From time to time, especially during the summer months, I decide what I want to keep and what to auction. I procrastinate with these decisions, and each piece I give up makes me a little sad, but I have to let go.

This is not the only thing that makes me sad. With my three cats, and my little Beagle girl, accidents happen. I truly hate having a piece of history destroyed by their antics, but it does happen. I keep the shards and I am designing a mosaic tabletop that I hope to get started on this spring. Once these accidents started taking place was when I realized it was time to downsize.

As a seller on eBay, I believe it is important to correctly identify the items you are selling. Even with my limited knowledge, I see seller’s list items as being made by McCoy that even I knew were improperly identified. I have even emailed a few sellers to let them know their item was not made by McCoy, and have been both ignored, and thanked for taking the time to contact them. It seems everyone wants their pottery to be made by McCoy, Haeger, Roseville, or other noted pottery manufacturer.

One little example I can give is about my infamous Chick-A-Dee pitcher. I had it for a while, trying to identify its origin. On and off, I checked the eBay listings, and other online sites. Finally, I found one listed on eBay, and it was identified as being a McCoy. I contacted the seller to see if they would share with me how they made this determination, but they never responded to me. A little later I decided that I was going to sell it. I was getting ready to list this little pitcher, when I received my first McCoy Journal. My little Chick-A-Dee pitcher was right there, listed in the “fakes” section. I was so appreciative that I had not listed this little creamer as a McCoy. I decided that I’d keep the little Chick-A-Dee, as I think it is sort of nice to own a known McCoy fake or misidentified McCoy.

My favorite McCoy piece is the brown with gold trimmed squirrel planter. Mr. Squirrel has a job. He sits and watches over my indoor plants and greenery, and I will probably keep him forever. Another favorite is my blue Harmony vase. I also have a little yellow, basket-weave planter that was my first McCoy piece. This one will always be with me too. I look around and know that even though I have pottery from lots of manufacturers, my McCoy will always hold a special place in my heart.

Candleholders and Ornamental Lamps

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Ima Potts

During the early 1970’s, when the Nelson McCoy Pottery (NMP) was a subsidiary of the Mount Clemens Pottery (MCP), the pottery introduced an array of new type articles. One of these new items was candleholders. Although from time to time over the years Nelson McCoy had issued some candleholders, but there were not very many. The MCP however, issued many styles at one time. For example, in 1971 there were 15 different styles, in three or four different colors.

In the mid-1970’s, after the Lancaster Colony Corporation (LCC) had purchased the Nelson McCoy Pottery, the LCC continued the practice and produced a wide assortment of them, but now they were called “Ornamental Lamps”. Most of the ornamental lamps the LCC produced featured glass globes, as shown on the Journal front and rear covers.

The LCC featured ornamental lamps for a year or two, but a large-scale production of them did not last. Following the purchase of the pottery by Designer Accents in 1985, ornamental lamp production was resumed. Although many of the lamps Nelson McCoy Ceramics (NMC), the pottery name assigned by the new owner, produced used previously existing molds, different decals were applied, and different colors were used. A selection of NMC lamps is given below and on the following page.

Due to the relatively small number produced, none of the candle holders or lamps shown here are easy to find. However, they would all make a fine specialty collection, don’t you think?




Have You Seen This Rare Production Piece of McCoy?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

image234By Craig Nissen

It may be simple in design, but this Flower Holder Planter is not short on desirability for any McCoy Pottery collector that likes the early 1940’s era of McCoy Pottery collecting! This is the only example I have personally seen of this production piece. However, that may be simply because it is not well known, and because it is not marked McCoy for easy identification. This just may mean there are some examples out there, waiting to be discovered!

The Planter, which I think looks more like a “Canoe” in shape, is described as a No.K-25, Flower Holder, on the catalog page. The “Canoe” Planter is just over 7-inches long, and 2-inches wide. The tip of the highest point on one end is about 2 1/8-inches tall. The second photo of the Flower Holder is included with the well-known Heart Vase from the same era to help provide a good perspective of size.

image235Pictured in the third photo is the bottom of the piece showing the “USA” marking. If you look at the following catalog page, you can see the Flower Holder “Canoe” Planter included on this page from a 1941 catalog. What adds additional interest is that a November 1941 issue of the 1941 pricing pages, does not include this “K-25” Flower Holder Planter. This would seem to add additional support to the puzzle of why this seems to be such a scarce, production piece. A likely scenario is that it was released in 1941, but did not sell well. As a result, it was dropped from the line later in the year as supported by the lack of its inclusion in the November 1941 pricing.

image236This particular example of the K-25

Flower Holder Planter, has the production, gloss aqua glaze coloring. It is likely the Planter was also made in the variety of other glaze colors as were the other three Flower Holders pictured next to it on the catalog page. None of them are easy finds either, but I think this “Canoe” Flower Holder is by far the scarcest of the Group!

I hope this information was a bit fun as well as helpful for you, and that just maybe, you might find one yourself in your hunting for McCoy!! Good Luck!

Planting Dishes

Planting Dishes