McCoy Pottery – How it Changed its Image in the Public Eye & Succeeded

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.

Shifting Models

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.

McCoy Redefined 

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.

Just Art Pottery New Arrivals

Have you checked out our New Products page lately? If not, you’re missing out on more than a few unique pieces from several well known and respected pottery makers. Here are just a few of the newer additions ready for you to select and call your very own.

Jesse Wolf is a more contemporary artist and one who spent time as an Ephraim Faience potter. He really is considered one of the most talented artists in the sector. The Jesse Wolf Pottery No Fishing Vase offers a deep blue base with a a whimsical black cat peeking into the vase. The blue, along with being contrasted with the black cat, also has a burst of gold via the “No Fishing” sign that’s slightly askew and adds a bit of dimension. The vase is marked “Jesse Wolf” and “2009”. It measures 4” in height and is 7 1/4” tall. It’s a modern piece that would make an impressive addition to any collection.

This next new arrival is definitely a must-have for those who appreciate all that McCoy Pottery symbolizes. The 1940s McCoy Butterfly Lavender Vase is in excellent condition with factory roughing on the base ring. There’s also a slight firing flaw, though it’s absent any chips, repairs, cracks or other damage. This feminine vase’s decorative efforts are slightly raised, presenting a nice texture. It measures 6 1/4” in height and is 3” wide.

The Muncie Pottery High Glaze Vase has that glossy appearance that is always a sure thing on more contemporary art pottery pieces. You’ll appreciate the smaller neck that graduates down and eventually narrows again before the base widens once again. With hues of golds and browns, this is a lovely piece that will coordinate easily with your other art pottery. It’s in excellent condition with no chips, damage, cracks or repairs. It’s 8 1/2” tall and as mentioned, is varied in its widths.

As always, these are just a few of the new additions Just Art Pottery has available right now; and too, you never know when those new items will arrive, so be sure to check back often.

The Versatile Teco Pottery Collection

Most of us, when we hear “McCoy Pottery” or “Roseville Pottery”, we instantly equate it with those familiar adjectives that suggests McCoy is more “kitschy” or maybe that Roseville Pottery is more “elegant” or even “varied” since there are so many Roseville lines. It’s Teco Pottery, however, that’s best described as versatile, though wonderfully predictable, while “matte” and “green” come to mind, as well. Those matte finishes, the simple though remarkable colors and glazes come together to present those eclectic designs in a masterful way.

Founded in 1881 by William Gates and originally named Terra Cotta Tile Works, the primary focus then was on functionality versus artistry. Two decades later, the more artistic side of the company was allowed to emerge. In fact, Teco Pottery included more than 500 art pottery designs by the time the company ceased operations, which interestingly, is not memorialized anywhere. It’s not at all clear as to the official closing date, which adds a mysterious element to the mix.

The more architectural feel of the various pieces exist for a reason: many architects are credited with the inspiration and design of the art pottery lines. Better know as the “Prairie School” style, which incorporated more natural elements, or what we might call “eco-friendly” in today’s culture, it’s what best defines the art pottery as a whole.

Like many companies in business during this timeframe, Teco Pottery took several hits courtesy of the stock market crash and ultimate Great Depression. It’s believed an attorney took over the company at some point during this time. Again, like other companies often do, Teco Pottery was eventually absorbed by other larger companies to the degree that art pottery was no longer even a smaller production effort. It’s a shame too, simply because of the unique forms that define the Teco Pottery brand. Fortunately, there are many pieces in circulation and collecting them isn’t as difficult as other American art pottery lines. Of course, we have an inventory of Teco Pottery and we invite you to take a look at some of these amazing design efforts. If you’re not already a Teco fan, odds are, you will be.

Just Art Pottery New Arrivals

It’s that time of the year again where it seems all any of us do is scramble to make every moment count during the holidays.  One of the best things about this time of year is decorating.  Christmas trees, the festive dinnerware and of course, the ribbons, bells and mistletoe – it’s all part of the presentation.  That said, part of my efforts include bringing some of my most prized art pottery pieces down from the top shelves and putting them front and center.  I incorporate some of my cherished George Ohr pottery pieces into my mantelpiece that’s draped with pine and tiny white lights.   Of course, McCoy Pottery is where it all began for me; my kitchen is home to those whimsical pieces I’m so drawn to. [Read more…]