Hungarian Zsolnay Ceramics

Ask any Zsolnay Ceramics collector to describe this European line of art pottery in just one word, and you’ll surely hear capture-20140405-061117“iridescent”. Initially, this Hungarian family set out to create stoneware that was functional and utilitarian. A decade after being founded in 1853, Vilmos Zsolnay entered the family business and learned how his father’s business worked. Over the course of another decade, Vilmos brought the company to heights his father had never dreamed possible. World fairs and international exhibitions followed and so did the awards. Eosin porcelain became the dominant material and as the company grew, so did the Zsolnay family. Julia Zsolnay, Vilmos’s sister, married and her husband soon joined the business.

Even though the family artists had their own distinctions, there’s no denying the seamless look and feel. The pottery, as mentioned, was mostly iridescent in appearance and many of their creations can still be seen in various landmarks and buildings throughout Hungary.

The iridescence is due to a process called “eosin” and it’s a hallmark for many artistic efforts during this time period (at the turn of the century). The eosin works as a glaze and gives it a certain metallic look, but the magic is found in the different colors that are anything but static. Adjust the piece slightly and what was purple becomes red. It’s a lovely presentation and as collectors can attest to, highly sought after.

The Zsolnay Hungarian art pottery centerpiece, shown above, has the eosin glaze and depicts a woman trying to capture fish. It’s a larger piece and is in mint condition. It measures an impressive 11 inches in height and measures 14 inches wide. It’s a beautiful effort that’s quite detailed. This is just one of the Zsolnay Pottery offerings that are available right now. Be sure to explore our complete inventory.

Like many companies, the various wars took their tolls on the company and the Budapest location was bombed. For a while, before being sold, the family tried to re-introduce durable and useable stoneware, but by then, there was just no turning back. The company was sold. In recent years, the family has begun to rebuild the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufacture. Two years ago, it partnered with IKEA. While it may never revert to the true European art pottery company, what we’re left with is an impressive body of work that’s highly sought after and deeply respected around the world.

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.