During the 18th and 19th centuries, ornamental pottery became increasingly popular in Europe and America, spearheaded by brands like Mccoy Pottery. Potters began to experiment with new forms, colors, and glazes, leading to the creation of various exciting new styles of pottery.
Editor’s Note: Ornamental Pottery
Pottery, the art of creating objects out of clay, has a long and rich history that dates back to ancient civilizations.
Some of the earliest known examples of pottery were discovered in China and date back to around 18,000 BCE. From there, the art of pottery spread to other ancient civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Pottery was primarily used for functional purposes such as storage and cooking, but it also had an ornamental use.
Ornamental pottery, also known as decorative pottery, has been used for centuries as a way to add beauty and elegance to homes and public spaces.
In ancient times, ornamental pottery was often used to decorate tombs and other important buildings. In ancient Egypt, for example, decorative pottery was used to depict scenes from daily life and religious rituals.
During the Middle Ages, ornamental pottery continued to be popular in Europe and Asia.
Potters created intricate designs and patterns on their pottery using a variety of techniques, such as slip-casting and glazing. These decorative pieces were highly prized by the wealthy and were often used to adorn castles and other grand homes.
The Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, which emphasized the importance of traditional craftsmanship and the use of natural materials, had a major influence on the development of ornamental pottery in Europe and America and tremendously increased its popularity and use in everyday homes and spaces.
Today, ornamental pottery continues to be a popular form of decorative art, Potters continue to create beautiful and unique pieces that are used to add beauty and elegance to homes and public spaces. The most aesthetic pieces from its rich history are also the subject of a widespread valuable collecting habit.
By the turn of the 19th century, pottery giants like Mccoy Pottery began to appear on the scene, blazing the path and creating some of the most sought-after, eye-catching decorative pieces.
Founded in 1848, McCoy Pottery rose over a century to become one of the foremost pottery manufacturers in the United States of America, dominating the scene and developing into a symbol of vibrant American industry.
McCoy Pottery created a wide range of products for both practical and decorative purposes, such as flowerpots, vases, planters, jugs, cookie jars, and other home decor items.
Many of those pieces were treasured by Americans everywhere. Consequently, these items quickly became collectibles—both for practical use or as collectible art—especially after the company went out of business and stopped producing them, essentially limiting their supply and making them rarer.
While McCoy pottery pieces were never produced with the intention of them becoming valuable collectibles, they have become increasingly popular with collectors recently, with the hottest, rarest specimens being heavily contested at auction today.
What, then is the value of rare McCoy pottery?
The value of rare McCoy pottery can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the age, condition, rarity, and demand for the piece.
Pieces produced in limited quantities or were part of a discontinued line tend to be the most valuable as they are typically much rarer than most. Pieces that are in excellent condition and have their original packaging can also command a higher price.
On average, you can expect the rarest, hard-to-find McCoy pieces to sell in a range of a couple hundred to several thousand dollars, with some reaching as high as $9000+, depending on their properties.
However, it’s important to note that not all McCoy pottery is valuable. Pieces that were produced in large quantities, or have damage or repairs, may not be worth as much. Hence, it is vital to research and consult with experts before making a purchase or valuation.
Before we look at the most valuable McCoy pottery specimens you can buy today, it is essential to understand how the brand rose to fame and why its pottery pieces became so popular, even growing in popularity after its demise.
History of Mccoy Pottery
McCoy Pottery was a family-owned American pottery company that was most active from 1910 to 1990.
The company was founded in 1848 by J.W. McCoy in Roseville, Ohio. It was known for its high-quality, handcrafted pottery, producing a wide range of pottery items such as vases, planters, and dinnerware.
In the early years, the company primarily produced stoneware items, such as crocks, jugs, and churns. As the company grew, it expanded its product line to include various decorative pieces, such as vases, planters, and figurines.
One of the most notable figures associated with McCoy Pottery is Nelson McCoy, J.W. McCoy’s son. He joined the family business in 1911 and helped further to develop the company’s unique style and design. Under his leadership, the company expanded and began producing a wide range of pottery items, including art pottery, dinnerware, and figurines.
One of the defining characteristics of the distinct McCoy Pottery style is its use of bright, bold colors, which set it apart from other potteries of the time. The company also experimented with different glazes and finishes, such as matte, gloss, and iridescent, which added to the visual appeal of its pieces.
In the 1920s, McCoy Pottery became more widely known for its art pottery line, which featured hand-crafted pieces with unique glazes and designs. Many of these pieces were designed by talented artists such as Adelaide Robineau and Frederick Rhead.
In the 1920s and 1930s, McCoy Pottery saw a significant increase in its popularity as the Arts and Crafts movement gained momentum. The company’s pieces were highly sought after by collectors and were often featured in magazines and advertisements. It also became a favorite of Hollywood stars, further adding to the desire and value of the pottery.
Despite a slight financial slump during the latter stages of the Great Depression, the company managed to survive by shifting its focus to more practical pottery items such as dinnerware and kitchenware.
However, In the 1940s, Nelson McCoy retired, and his son, Robert, took over the company, just in time for even more financial trouble, after the unsettling economic effects of World War II.
After World War II, the company struggled to compete with the influx of cheaper, mass-produced pottery from other manufacturers in the United States and from across the globe. In the 1950s, the company began a line of popular cookie jars and other kitchenware items, which helped boost sales. However, the rise of mass production and the decline in demand for handmade pottery led to the company’s eventual collapse.
In 1990, the company was forced to close its doors, and the McCoy Pottery name and trademark were sold to a new owner.
Today, McCoy Pottery is still highly sought after by collectors, and the rarest pieces can easily fetch high prices at auction.
Most Valuable McCoy Pottery Pieces
The most sought-after and valuable McCoy pottery pieces are those crafted by hand as a one-of-one or in single digits and were never mass-produced or officially released as part of any of the McCoy Pottery lines.
These one-of-a-kind creations can fetch thousands of dollars at auction, with the rarity and uniqueness of the piece driving up its value.
Some of these unique specimens include:
Editor’s Note: Sale Data Source, the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society, and Valuing/Appraising You McCoy Pottery Pieces
Our data for the auction prices (and photos for the auction pieces) in this article comes from the archives of the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society, which keep a robust, up-to-date record of all the major auctions of McCoy pottery that occurred in recent history.
This collector group is arguably the foremost source of information on all things McCoy pottery today.
The McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society is a group dedicated to collecting and preserving McCoy pottery. The society was founded in 1983 and is open to anyone interested in McCoy pottery, whether they are a collector, dealer, or just a pottery fan.
The society holds an annual convention where members can buy, sell, and trade McCoy pottery pieces and attend lectures and workshops.
The society also publishes a quarterly newsletter, available to community members and non-members who purchase a subscription to the journal.
Many experts consider the journal a valuable resource for those interested in McCoy pottery, as it is one of the few publications providing in-depth information about the company and its production that is still being updated.
The journal typically includes:
- Articles about different aspects of McCoy pottery, such as history, production, design, decoration, and information about specific lines and pieces.
- A classified ads section where members can buy, sell or trade pieces
- A section called “Ask the Experts” where members can submit questions about their pieces for the society’s experts to answer
- Photographs of pieces submitted by members, which are used to help identify and date unknown pieces.
- A section that features listings of upcoming events and shows.
Furthermore, the McCoy Pottery Collectors’ Society also offers a service for identifying, dating, and appraising pieces of McCoy pottery for members and non-members alike.
This service is handled by the society’s experts and is based on their knowledge and research about the company and its production. Hence, this service is one of the best resources for use when finding the value of a McCoy pottery piece you found and suspect is significantly valuable.
To use this appraisal service, you can contact the society here.
Alternatively, you can attempt to find your McCoy piece on the McCoy Pottery Index, a free directory that aggregates data on hundreds of McCoy products.
Custom Jetwood Vase
- Finalized Auction Price: $9275
The McCoy Pottery company, which was actively in business from most of the 20th century, produced a wide variety of ceramic items, including vases, many of which were custom items produced on the special request of an interested party.
This peculiar, alluring vase is one such piece.
Without any specific information available on this unit, it is impossible to confirm anything about its origin or production details.
However, this vase is unarguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing units ever produced by McCoy Pottery. Apparently, collectors agree with our verdict, as this piece sold for $9275, one of the highest prices for a McCoy Pottery piece, in July 2020.
The specimen’s vibey design is an Easter-themed full-length piece that features three rabbits, colorful flowers, a shadowy treeline, and a Notice that reads “Easter April 16” and bears the years 1911 and 1922.
The piece is also called a Jetwood vase, indicating that it is part of the Jetwood line, even though it is a custom offering.
The McCoy Pottery company produced a line of pottery in the 1950s and 1960s called the “Jetwood” line.
The Jetwood line featured a wood-grain texture and a matte finish and was primarily produced in shades of brown. The line included a variety of pieces, such as vases, planters, and bowls. The Jetwood line was one of the most popular of McCoy’s lines during the 1950s and 60s, and many pieces are still highly sought after by collectors today.
School Bus Cookie Jar
- Finalized Auction Price: $9000
The School Bus cookie jar by McCoy Pottery is a ceramic container designed in the shape of a yellow school bus. The lid sits on top of the bus and can be removed to access the cookies stored inside. The details of the bus, like the windows and tire, are usually painted to give it a realistic look.
Over the course of its lifetime, the company produced several different variants of this cookie jar with differing designs.
This specimen is an ultra-rare variant that is almost impossible to find, even more so in the excellent condition available here. The massive demand for this limited piece is highlighted by its massive $9000 sold price.
Experimental Green Vase
- Finalized Auction Price: $7100
This experimental green vase is likely a sample and a one-of-one that never made it to an official release. It is possible that the vase was intended to be part of a larger collection or came from the sample designs sent to McCoy Pottery by a well-known artist or designer.
Pink and Blue Grapes Cookie Jar
- Finalized Auction Price: $6500
The McCoy Grapes cookie jar is a type of collectible cookie jar produced by the McCoy Pottery company. These jars were produced in the 1930s and 1940s and are considered by experts to be a common type of valuable antique McCoy piece and, as such, highly sought after by collectors everywhere.
These cookie jars are made of pottery and shaped like a large bunch of grapes.
The jar typically depicts grapes in a deep purple, brown, or dark blue color—to resemble a bunch of actual grapes—and is often detailed with textured skin and leaves surrounding the grapes. The lid of the jar is usually a solid color and has a knob handle on the top.
However, this unique, rare specimen veers slightly from that established model, giving it sublime aesthetic properties that set it apart from the rest.
The unit features light blue, pink, and brownish tones, an eye-catching color combination that rarely occurs in McCoy pieces and that you are unlikely to find only any other grape cookie jars made by the brand.
The specimen’s combination of extreme rarity and mesmerizing aesthetics makes it a highly sought-after piece and earned it its sizable $6500 finalized auction price in the Jeff Koehler Auction held in July 2019.
Books Cookie Jar
- Finalized Auction Price: $6200
McCoy Pottery was known for producing a wide variety of cookie jars in different shapes and designs, including those in the shape of animals, characters, and objects. These cookie jars were some of the company’s most exciting products, as there was an extensive variety to pick from, many of which were extremely limited releases.
However, this unique specimen takes things further in terms of rarity.
While it is possible that there may have been a limited run of cookie jars made to look like books, there is no confirmation by McCoy Pottery of the existence of any such design.
Hence, it follows that this piece is likely a non-production sample that was never officially released, making it a super rare, likely one-of-one collectible. Unsurprisingly, this cookie jar has received massive interest from collectors and it last sold for $6200 in 2019.
- Finalized Auction Price: $6050
This vase is not only a beautiful and unique piece of art, but it is also a perfect example of the company’s craftsmanship and artistry and a testament to the reputation for producing high-quality ceramics with a superior level of attention to detail.
This one-of-a-kind vase features a combination of creamy white tones, floral motifs, and the large letter “V” embedded in the frame that contributes to making it a stunning piece that is sure to be a conversation starter in any room.
Although there are no exact statistics on the production details of this piece, it is rare enough to be one of the most highly sought-after collectibles from the company’s lineup.
In July 2021, this vase was sold for a significant amount of $6050, demonstrating its high value and demand among collectors.
- Finalized Auction Price: $5750
This colorful bookend is another non-production piece that never made into the regular McCoy pottery line. The unit was most likely a sample created during the production process of one of the brand’s lineups.
Bookends are a pair of supports used to hold a row of books upright by placing one at each end of the row.
Typically McCoy Pottery ceramic bookends are in a wide range of forms, sizes, and colors. They are traditionally decorated with various designs, such as animals, nature scenes, and abstract patterns.
However, this specimen goes against that trend, instead featuring a frame that depicts four stacked books and showing a more simple yet colorful 5-tone design.
Soccer Ball Cookie Jar
- Finalized Auction Price: $5500
McCoy Pottery produced various cookie jars in different shapes and designs, many of them in extremely limited releases, including sports-related designs.
One such design is this simple soccer ball cookie jar by McCoy pottery which is a limited, now ultra-rare production by the company.
The small jar is painted in the colors of a soccer ball, white and black, with black pentagons and hexagons, and it has a lid—with a knob for easy handling—on top that can be lifted to access the cookies stored inside.
Rare Grapes Cookie Jar
- Finalized Auction Price: $5500
This is yet another extremely rare grape cookie jar from Mccoy with an uncharacteristic peculiar design.
The most obvious deviation from the regular design language is that this piece is monochrome in a honey tone. The cookie jar also features a unique profile that depicts grapes pouring out of a barrel with a small wine-pressing mechanism attached to its top—which acts as the lid of the jar that can be removed to access the cookies stored inside.
The McCoy Grapes cookie jar line was a series of cookie jars produced by McCoy Pottery that featured the shape of grapes as the design. The jars were made of ceramic and were typically glazed in various shades.
Davy Crockett Planter
- Finalized Auction Price: $4600
The Davy Crockett planter is a piece of McCoy Pottery that is highly sought after by collectors. It was produced—as part of a very exclusive collection—during the 1950s and featured the iconic American folk hero, Davy Crockett, as the centerpiece of the planter.
The planter is made of ceramic and has a unique design that features a brown glaze with a white slip, giving it a rustic and charming look.
The eye-catching piece is designed in the shape of a boot, with Davy Crockett sitting at the top, wearing his signature coonskin cap. The planter was marketed as a souvenir and as a planter for small plants, and it is now an extremely rare, highly sought-after collectible, especially when found in perfect release condition, like with the specimen on display here. It is appreciated by both McCoy Pottery collectors and fans of the historical figure Davy Crockett.
Editor’s Note: Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett was a legendary American folk hero, frontiersman, and politician.
Davy Crockett was born in 1786 in Greene County, Tennessee, and grew up in the frontier wilderness. He was known for his hunting and tracking skills and became a well-known figure in his community. He fought in the Creek War as a scout and soldier, which helped him gain a reputation as a brave and skilled fighter. He later served as a member of the Tennessee militia during the War of 1812.
Crockett was a colorful and charismatic figure and became well-known for his speeches and wit. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee in 1827, serving three terms. He gained fame for his opposition to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which would have forced Native American tribes to relocate from their ancestral lands to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma)
In 1835, Crockett announced he would not run for re-election to Congress and instead headed to Texas, which was then a part of Mexico, to expand his business interests.
Crockett joined the Texan army and fought at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, where he and other Texan soldiers were killed by the Mexican military. His death at the Alamo made him a martyr and a symbol of Texan independence.
Davy Crockett’s legacy has been celebrated through various forms of popular culture, including books, movies, and television shows, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. His story and legend has been passed down through generations and continue to be a significant part of American folklore. He remains an important figure in American history, remembered for his bravery, his opposition to the Indian Removal Act, and his death at the Alamo.
Mccoy Pottery Lines
The McCoy Pottery company was known for producing a wide variety of functional pottery, including vases, planters, casseroles, and decorative pieces like figurines and wall plaques.
Many of the most popular releases were made available to the public as part of “lines,” each of which included items that followed a particular design language.
Although some of the more well-known lines of decorative glazed vases, bowls, and garden pots by McCoy Pottery may not necessarily be the rarest or most valuable of the bunch, they continue to be some most of the highly sought after by collectors at a range of price points.
With many of these pieces being in the financial reach of collectors of all levels and the rapidly increasing demand for McCoy Pottery pieces, many of the specimens from these lines are guaranteed to become increasingly rarer and more expensive in the near future.
Some of the most well-known lines include:
The McCoy Onyx line was a line of pottery produced by the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company in the 1930s.
The Onyx line featured glossy black glaze and was produced in various shapes and sizes, including vases, planters, and bowls. The Onyx line was a popular Art Deco-inspired design and is highly sought after by collectors today.
The McCoy Jeweled line is a line of pottery produced by the McCoy Pottery company in the 1940s.
The Jeweled line featured a glossy glaze with various pastel colors and raised, molded decorations that resemble jewels. The Jeweled line was a popular design during its heyday and is highly sought after by seasoned McCoy Pottery collectors today.
Blossom Time Line
The Blossom Time line is a line of pottery produced by the McCoy Pottery company in the 1940s.
The line featured a variety of floral designs and pastel colors and was produced in a variety of shapes and sizes, including vases, planters, and bowls. The line was particularly known for its raised relief floral design.
Strawberry Country Line
The Strawberry Country line of pottery featured stylized strawberry designs and was made in various shapes and sizes, including bowls, vases, and planters.
The pottery was typically glazed in shades of pink and red, with green leaves and stems. The Strawberry Country line was one of the last lines produced by the company before it closed its doors in 1990. It has become a sought-after collectible among McCoy Pottery enthusiasts.
The Stonecraft line of pottery produced by the McCoy Pottery company is known for its rough, textured surface that mimics the look of natural stone.
The pottery was typically glazed in earthy colors, such as brown, gray, and green, further enhancing the pieces’ stone-like appearance. The line included various functional pieces, such as planters, vases, and casseroles, as well as decorative items like figurines and wall plaques.
The pieces were made to look like they were carved out of rock, and it was a popular line in the 1940s and 1950s. Stonecraft is considered a desirable line among collectors and is still popular today.
Van Briggle Pottery Line
The McCoy Pottery company produced the Van Briggle Pottery line after it acquired the Van Briggle Pottery Company in the mid-20th century.
Van Briggle Pottery is known for its art pottery, which typically features a matte finish and a wide range of glaze colors. The company was founded by Artus Van Briggle in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1901 and was known for the high quality of the pieces produced.
The line produced by McCoy Pottery after the acquisition included vases, bowls, planters, and other decorative pieces similar to the original Van Briggle line but with slight variations.
The pieces were produced with the same quality and care as the original Van Briggle Pottery and are highly sought after by collectors.