About McCoy Pottery

McCoy Pottery InformationMcCoy pottery is one of the most recognized names in American pottery. J. W. McCoy Pottery was established by James W. McCoy in 1899.   In 1908 McCoy introduced its most popular art pottery line Loy-Nel-Art. Loy-Nel-Art is decorated, standard glaze pottery similar to Roseville Rozane and Weller Louwelsa. The history of Nelson McCoy pottery began in April of 1910 when J.C. McCoy and his son Nelson created the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company. The majority of the products they created in the beginning were functional pieces such as jugs, jars, crocks, and even poultry fountains. Because they were located in an area rich in natural clay, they also conducted a profitable mining operation, mining and selling clay to other American pottery companies.

The 1920s brought about an economic boom that boosted the McCoy's pottery company to a new level. In 1925, the company changed its entire operation to produce more McCoy pottery and cease clay sales to competitors. They installed modernized equipment that enabled them to greatly increase their production. They also expanded their facilities and created a larger art pottery division to meet the needs of their affluent clientele. McCoy designers and artisans focused their attention on producing umbrella stands, vases, jardinières, and pedestals, and other decorative pieces.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Walter Bauer was the head designer, McCoy pottery pieces were primarily of the leaf and berry theme with blended brown and green glazes. The company also created similar pieces in solid green that were more affordable for the general public.

McCoy history took a turn during the Depression era, when they joined a co-op with five other pottery companies in order to survive the economic conditions of the time. Because these companies shared marketing and merchandising operations, their designs were very similar and are now difficult to distinguish from one another. It was also during this time, around 1933, that the company became simply the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company. McCoy designs were also changing during this period when Sydney Cope held the position of head designer. His designs are some of the most famous and became a template for the artistic style that McCoy is best known for.

The war era brought about more changes, including a period when Nelson McCoy Pottery was contracted by the government to make clay landmines for the war effort. It was also during the 40s that the McCoy facilities underwent another modernization process. McCoy Pottery produced more pieces between 1940 and 1960 than any other American pottery company. Cookie jar collectors delight in finding McCoy cookie jars from this period, like the Mammy with Cauliflowers that is so often copied by counterfeiters.

McCoy Pottery was owned and operated by four generations of McCoys until 1967 when it was sold to the Mount Clemens Pottery Company. It was sold again in 1974 to the Lancaster Colony Corporation and continued to produce pottery for another 16 years. The demand for less expensive products and the availability of foreign goods caused McCoy's profits to decline steadily until 1990 when they ceased operation.

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