Article: “Authentic Reproductions”

Authentic Reproductions and Some Nelson McCoy Pieces That Have Been Reproduced by Others

By Dewayne Imsand

The following article has been adapted from the Journal of the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society

Does the phrase “authentic reproduction” sound strange? Numerous different dictionaries that I have consulted have subtle definition differences for the word “reproduction”, but they all basically say that a reproduction is simply “a copy of something.” The appearance of the copy may be very much like the original, or there may be glaring differences. Regardless of how much the copy looks like the original, there is always some difference that distinguishes one from the other.

Many times today, the word “reproduction” is used to imply that the piece being considered is not genuine, but strictly speaking the implication is not totally correct. The dictionary definitions have nothing to say regarding the maker of the original, nor the maker of the reproduction. The situation is disregarded that the maker of the original may also be the maker of a more recent piece that looks like the original to one degree or another. It is possible to have a reproduction that was made by an individual or company that did not make the original piece, and it is also possible to have a reproduction that was made by the individual or company that made the original. In the latter case the new piece is authentic.

We may not have considered it before, but based on the dictionary definition of a reproduction, the Nelson McCoy Pottery has made quite a few of what could be called reproductions. This comes about because the design of an initially produced piece in all of its sizes, colors, and the type of or lack of a trademark, must be classified as original.

But then, as is commonly known, the company produced later, sometimes years later, the same piece but with different colors, or sizes, and/or trademarks. What should these subsequent pieces be called where the original design is retained but some aspect of the piece such as the size, color, or mark is changed? Some may say that re-issue could be the word, but if some aspect of the new piece is different from the original, doesn’t that make it a reproduction? A new piece that generally looks like the original is the definition of a reproduction.

One well-known example of a McCoy pottery piece, shown here, that has been produced for many years is the Number 38 jardiniere. This jardiniere with its diamond-shaped pattern was first introduced in 1951 and it came in two sizes and two colors. The sizes were 8½ inches and 10½ inches wide, and the colors were green and white. Production of the jardiniere continued after the McCoy pottery became a subsidiary of the Mt. Clemens Pottery in 1967, but in that year the colors were changed to a mint green, and a stoneware white. Subsequently in 1968, it was decided that the design should again be reproduced, but instead of mint green or stoneware white, the colors were either silver or gold. These silver or gold pieces were part of the Antiqua Line and the jardinieres were made in these two colors until 1970. Then in 1971, another green color, a so-called jardiniere green, along with a matte white were introduced. In 1974, when the pottery came under the auspices of the Lancaster Colony Corporation, the jardiniere green and matte white colors were continued but the company initials, “LCC” were added to the McCoy mark. The jardiniere green and the matte white colors were used until 1981.

What this discussion and example means in a practical sense is that there is a need to recognize that many basic McCoy pieces were reproduced and they have some characteristics that differ from the original. Furthermore, to collectors these differences can be important. In the relative simple example of the Number 38 jardiniere, there are more than ten varieties of each of the two different sizes. There are quite a few McCoy pieces where there are many varieties, but in other cases there are only a few or in some cases there are no varieties at all. In the vast majority of cases where varieties exist, to a knowledgeable collector, their values are different.

The McCoy reference books give the value for the various selected pieces that are presented. Sometimes the value is given for one particular piece. But at other times the value for different sizes, colors, etc., is given as a range starting from the value of the most commonly found, to the value of the more scarce. It should be recognized though that a thorough discussion all of the various varieties may not be presented or their values given. As enlightening and helpful as this type of detailed information would be to collectors, it would be a tedious job to provide the value of each variant piece. So, in many cases we are left to rely on our own knowledge while we ply the market place in search of the pieces missing from our collections.

One other note – as we all know, the more people seeking a particular piece, and the more scarce the piece is, the higher the value tends to be. Therefore, being aware that a particular original piece may be scarcer or more plentiful than a newer variety gives a collector a great advantage. Using the production information given above for the Number 38 jardiniere we are presented with an illustration of differing values. For example, consider the following questions. What would you suppose the value of an original No. 38 jardiniere marked “McCoy” would be versus a younger one marked “McCoy LCC?” Or, would you expect that the value of a white, original jardiniere that was produced for years, would be the same value as a mint green jardiniere that was only produced for one year? This reminds us of the old saying, “Knowledge is power.”