Few companies are able to make a comeback, and certainly within its first two decades of existence, after recreating its image. Doing it in the public eye is even more challenging. Yet, for McCoy Pottery, it not only successfully pulled it off, but when it did re-emerge, it found an even greater stage.
McCoy in Zanesville
Like many American art pottery companies, McCoy got its start in the heart of art pottery paradise: Zanesville, Ohio. Founded in 1910 by Nelson McCoy and his father, J.W. McCoy, the company first set its sights on more utilitarian designs. They found success, but it made what can only be described as rookie mistakes. It seemed as though it had a bit of an identity crisis in those earlier days.
Along with creating functional stoneware, it also was in the clay mining business. It partnered with close to a dozen other stoneware companies to define the American Clay Products Company. These designs were functional, just like McCoy’s own pottery designs, though there was nothing to really set the company apart and certainly there were no markings that revealed its collective origin. There was a bit of confusion: was McCoy Pottery now a part of ACPC or were they still two separate entities?
The public wouldn’t get the opportunity to figure it out as ACPC fell apart in the late 1920s.
Three years later, smarter for the experience, Nelson and his father began rethinking and redefining the initial business model. Those first few years were challenging and by the mid 1930s, the writing on the wall was clear: interest in pottery as foodware was waning. The father/son duo had to rethink things yet again. Enter the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company.
The designs shifted and a new artist, Sydney Cope, played a significant role in defining the look and feel for the artistic efforts. The winds of change were still blowing, though and by the 1940s, and in response to the war, the company found itself making clay landmines.
It was also during this time that McCoy brought its technology up to par.
The war ended and before long, McCoy had finally found its identity. That identity included a maker of a more whimsical presentation. McCoy Pottery became synonymous with the cookie jars collectors still look for today. They’re highly collectible and it’s been suggested that McCoy designs are as prone as Roseville Pottery designs when it comes to counterfeiters looking to make fast money on fake pieces.
By now, many Just Art Pottery clients head straight to the new inventory page on the website. It’s where collectors get a head start on finding those rare pieces they might have been seeking for years or they might find an unexpected gem. If you’ve not visited the New Additions page, here’s what you’re missing:
Cambridge Pottery Vase
This classic Cambridge Pottery vase is representative of everything that defined the American art pottery company; the glossy brown glaze being the most obvious. This vase stands 6” tall and is 4” wide. It’s in mint condition and that classic glossy glaze is emphasized with the floral pattern in rich hues of gold and orange. The shape itself adds to the appearance as it has a slight narrowing midway down the design. If you’re a Cambridge Pottery fan, this is a remarkable addition to any collection.
Door Pottery Art Deco Vase
This is another must-see for anyone drawn to the more contemporary designs in this particular art sector. The matte glaze incorporates hues of brown, and at first glance, it could resemble wood. It’s a classic Door Pottery design, indicative of the art deco model it’s so well known for.
If you’re a collector of the traditional Zanesville potters and haven’t really considered some of the more modern lines, Door Pottery is a fine place to start. Admittedly, I have always been drawn to McCoy pieces and several Roseville patterns, but over the past year or so, I’ve found a new appreciation for these art deco lines and I can’t help but wonder why it took me so long to “discover” it.
Ephraim Faience “Black Bears in a Cave” Vase
At first glance, unless you’re an avid Ephraim Faience collector, you might not recognize this vase as part of its collection. Of course, the attention to detail, the truly artistic ways the hues reflect off of the others and just the presentation in general gives it away. This vase is 10 ¼” tall and at its widest is 6 ½” wide. There are a few other Ephraim Faience pieces available on the New Additions page, as well.
Don’t forget new inventory is added all the time and to stay in touch with everything going on at Just Art Pottery, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on the Just Art Pottery Facebook page, too.
Ah – the Roseville Creamware line. This is definitely one of those collections that you’ll spend your life searching for because you’re so drawn to it or it will be one you’ll steer clear of – love it or strongly dislike it.
Roseville Pottery Creamware
Maybe one of the reasons this is, first, one of the more versatile Roseville design lines, but more importantly, not a favorite among some collectors is because of the decals. Some thought they were being shortchanged with this collection, but once you consider the times, it becomes clear as to why the pottery company incorporated these less-expensive decals. Production costs were always in the forefront and consumers were watching their funds closely.
There often wasn’t enough in the budget for decorative pieces and when there were, it had better be an affordable venture, or the consumer of the day would walk right on by. This, coupled with the end of the so-called Arts & Crafts era, proved to be a challenge for the art industry as a whole and certainly those in art pottery.
In the early 1900s, the Roseville Creamware was unveiled, complete with its decals. There were floral patterns, people – sometimes animated, messaging (several fraternal societies used Creamware for coffee mugs, complete with the frat’s branding – and an extensive line called Juvenile.
If you can get past the absence of bold artistic efforts and rich color hues, Creamware really is a lovely collection; unfortunately, anyone who agrees often does so as an afterthought. It’s just not one of those lines that catch your eye. Then there are those that just look misplaced.
There is a rather interesting design – one of those that look out of place. The Creamware chamber pot throws you for a loop. First, it’s heavily decorated on the outside with “Novelty Steins” – mostly kids. But when you lift the lid, many discover this eye painted in the center of the pot. It’s really remarkable as it looks quite real, much the way a 3-D eye would appear in a more modern setting. Some of those pots also have a message: “Wash me out and keep me clean and I won’t tell what I have seen.”
The Juvenile pieces almost always have decals of children in various ages. Some offer up nursery rhymes as well. Even though it was heavily produced for quite some time, it is considered a valuable line and one that’s highly sought after.
The brick reds, glossy black and pale yellows found in the Roseville Olympic line suggests a Greek approach from the artist. It’s a striking line, most of which have those deep glosses that really allow them to stand out. But if indeed believe the early 1900 line is simply a Greek influence, you might want to rethink that.
In fact, John Flaxman, another well known artist of his time, mostly for his Neo-Classical designs, was the true inspiration. Some say the images are absolute efforts of reproductions. And going even further back before Flaxman, the argument’s been made that Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey – both tragedies – was the foundation of the inspiration.
The pieces themselves are modeled after the Roseville Creamware; the red pigments were applied over the bodies, careful to camouflage any similarity to the Creamware line. From there, decorators were tasked with transferring the reproduced lines to the bodies, and from there, the artists completed the final look.
And here’s another interesting element: Olympic wasn’t the only line that drew its inspiration from Flaxman. Both Della Robbia and Old Ivory have remarkable similarities, even if they’re not as obvious as those in the Olympic line.
Most of the Olympic pieces were marked with “Rozane Pottery” and were the last of these striking Roseville Pottery designs that defined Rozane.
This particular line is also one of the more expensive lines. The color combinations are rich and generous as they drape the various vessels. There’s a lot of detailing in this line, too. Often, you’ll discover intricate pattern décor along the baselines, necks or even right inside the design. It really is a beautiful line to collect.
As mentioned, this line was introduced in the early 1900s and was instantly popular in those early days. Even by today’s standards, this line presents as quite contemporary and is as popular today as it was then.
Candlesticks are some of the most collected items in American art pottery and Roseville has some of the most remarkable design elements and glazes. Many Roseville Pottery collectors say their collection began with just one pair of candlesticks. Most were hooked and knew they had to continue building their collection. Take a look at a few of the most popular patterns. Eclectic or traditional, glossy or matte finishes – there’s a Roseville pattern for everyone.
And speaking of eclectic, the Roseville Futura includes a candlestick design and it’s unlike anything else most have seen. First, the mouth is square and narrows the closer to the base you get. These designs have two complementing glazes – a bluish/green and more of an eggshell glaze really set these apart. But what draws the eye are the bulb shapes that grace the bottom of the candlesticks. It’s an acquired taste for many, but for the hardcore Futura collectors, this is a must have.
Apple Blossom remains one of the more popular Roseville patterns. Candlesticks are part of this line and they boast the traditional apple tree branch in the handles. The green glaze was smart and it works well with the brown and white that are part of the Apple Blossom charm. It’s little wonder that this was one of those strongest sellers when it was unveiled all those years ago.
Ah – but it’s the Roseville Dahlrose that will catch your attention and hold it. This line has a few bud vases, complete with plenty of decorative elements. Interestingly, these elements don’t overwhelm the presentation and because the bud vases are small, they easily double as candlesticks. That’s just part of the versatility a few of the Roseville patterns bring to the table. Browns and usually a few shades of green define the glazes and the abundance of the white Dahlrose against a textured body just works beautifully.
Many – if not most – of the Roseville patterns have at least one candlestick design. For those who are just beginning their collections, starting with candlesticks or even wall pockets will allow for a great start and will surely drive your passion for adding to your collection. There’s nothing better than coming across a pair of these beauties that you never knew existed. It’s an exhilarating feeling, especially if you’re able to add them to your own collection.