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McCoy Antique Pottery Identification Tips and History

Kate Miller-Wilson
Aqua McCoy Pottery Planter

Antique McCoy pottery items are considered highly collectible. These pottery items are available at all price levels, making them an attractive prospect for collectors of all types.

History of McCoy Pottery

The McCoy Pottery Company has a long and interesting history. The American company was founded in Roseville, Ohio in April 1910. Roseville was chosen as the area was rich with clay, and the land was given to the company free of charge in recognition of the employment opportunities and revenue it would bring to the area. The founder, Nelson McCoy (senior), established the company as the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Company, to produce utilitarian stoneware items. A change of direction took place in 1933 when the company responded to consumer interest and began to focus more on the manufacture of decorative items and less on utilitarian wares. The company changed hands during the years, and finally closed in 1990.

McCoy Pottery Lines

The style of antique McCoy Pottery items is wide and varied. It ranges from fun but functional items, such as a lamb planter, through to the more utilitarian. As the pottery spanned such a long time period, the style of pottery made very much reflected the trends and fashions of the time. According to the McCoy Pottery Collectors Society, there were dozens of lines of McCoy pieces, each produced in a variety of colors and glazes. These include white, yellow, blue, brown, coral, and other shades. Some included multiple colors. A few notable examples of McCoy Pottery lines include the following:

  • Onyx - This line featured a beautiful swirled glaze that resembled stone.
  • Blossom Time - Displaying gorgeous floral elements, this multi-colored line from the mid-1940s is highly collectible.
  • Jeweled - This 1950s pattern featured elements like flowers and butterflies with applied glass gems to add sparkle.
  • Strawberry Country - Produced near the end of the McCoy Pottery company's existence, this simple pattern features strawberries on a basic white glaze.

Tips for Buying Antique McCoy Pottery Items

If you would like to begin or add to a collection of antique McCoy pottery, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Identifying genuine pieces and assigning a fair value involves a bit of knowledge and research. These tips can help.

Sunny yellow McCoy Pottery planter

Look for McCoy Pottery Marks

One challenge in identifying McCoy Pottery is that the company did not begin marking its wares until around 1929. However, after that point, most pieces had marks. Many feature an overlapping N and M to stand for Nelson McCoy. Others have an overlapping M and C or the name McCoy. You can see a full listing of marks used with photos at the McCoy Pottery Collectors Society Trademarks Library.

Identify the Pattern

Because McCoy made so many patterns, it can be a challenge to identify them. Look at photos of other pieces on the McCoy Pottery Collectors Society site, and read the pattern descriptions on McCoy Pottery's Pattern Index. Once you know your pattern, you'll be better prepared to assign value.

Know What Type of Piece You Have

McCoy made everything from decorative wall pockets to vases. Knowing the function of your piece will help you figure out a fair price to pay for it. For instance, one of the most famous and collectible McCoy Pottery items is the cookie jar, and there are many collectors who collect nothing but these. These took a variety of forms. The Indian themed cookie jar is extremely popular, and other cookie jars included clowns, beehives, fruit, and animals of all descriptions.

Compare McCoy Pottery Values

To assign value to a piece of McCoy pottery, it's a good idea to compare recently-sold items in similar condition. You can see the selling price on eBay by looking up sold items. For instance, these are a few typical sales of McCoy pottery pieces:

Know Where to Shop

You can find McCoy pottery pieces on eBay, but you can also look for them locally. Check thrift stores and flea markets, as well as local antique shops. You'll also see them at garage sales and yard sales.

Something for Everyone

McCoy pottery is fun to collect, especially if you enjoy vintage kitchen items. This pottery was made for a long time, so there are many pieces on the market. From cookie jars to collectible teapots, there's a style and color for everyone.

McCoy Antique Pottery Identification Tips and History