Over the years I have seen many pieces of pottery. As you all know, I love pottery, especially kitchen stuff like bowls. There’s probably some psychological stuff about all that, but I choose not to delve too deep into it. Suffice it to say, pottery catches my eye. One company that is a name to look for in pottery is McCoy. Just watch Antiques Roadshow, one of my favorite shows, and once in a while you will see some McCoy come up.
I have these pieces in the shop which are McCoy but they are also marked LCC which I will get into further down into this post. They are still McCoy — but not before it was bought out by Lancaster. Let’s take a look at where McCoy started as I wait out this snow storm that is supposed to drop about 14″ of snow on my small NH town.
According to the McCoy Pottery website, The Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company in Roseville, Ohio was formed in 1910 by Nelson McCoy and his father J.W. McCoy. This company made functional and decorative stoneware. They also provided clay to lots of potteries in their area as well, mining and selling it as part of their business.
After 15 years, in 1925, they began to expand the company. They increased their production and added more modern equipment to their facility. They were the first in their area to install a tunnel kiln which was over 300 feet long. It allowed them to increase their production considerably and expand into specialty art pottery.
On a side note, there was Brush-McCoy Pottery which really didn’t involve Nelson McCoy. In 1911 George Brush and J.W. McCoy Pottery joined forces until 1918 which is a completely separate story with some of the same players. The McCoy name in Brush-McCoy was not dropped until 1925, however.
So back to Nelson McCoy and his 300 foot tunnel kiln. This kiln allowed them to make more and bigger pieces which included pieces such as Jardinieres and their pedestals, umbrella stands, vases and other pieces for a more affluent customer. With this increase is more art pottery pieces they hired more designers and artisans. However, we haven’t reached the Great Depression era yet. This was during the early to mid 1920s.
As the Depression loomed McCoy had to scale back slightly. They did a lot of blended glazes and earth tones. Lots of green which seemed to be the most inexpensive. Their motifs during this time were a lot of leaf and berry designs. Made in mass during the 1930s, they were back to functional but attractive.
The Depression took its toll in the 1930s. An alliance of potteries formed in order to stay in business. The co-op was called American Clay Products Company. It included among others the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co., Burley Pottery Co., Crooksville Pottery Co., Muskingum Pottery Co., Star Stoneware Co. and Logan Pottery Co.
The way it worked was that they had one marketing and sales program that all funneled through the same sales force. At this time these companies all produced many similar products and designs. The Co-op eventually lost its usefulness as the economy picked up and McCoy went on.
As a need for sanitary wares decreased in the 1930s the name was eventually changed to Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. Apparently, they didn’t use any marks prior to the 1930s so you just have to know what they made to identify early pieces. Their first mark was a large M superimposed on a small n that was used from 1934 to the late 1930s (Lehner, 1988, p. 287). They had a few marks through the years but not too many.
There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why they were sold when they were doing great; in the 1960s they were known all over the world, with over 300 employees, facility covered over 150,000 square feet. But sold they were to David T. Chase and Chase Enterprises in 1967. They in turn sold it to Lancaster Colony Company (where the LCC mark comes from) in 1974. It was sold again in the 1980s.
McCoy is one of the most well-known names in the pottery business. It managed to outlive the Great Depression and other economic downturns. Due to their lack of markings on their pieces, knowing which pieces they made will take some research and just getting to know what you are looking for.
Thanks for sharing your time with me today. Join me at the link parties on the right and have a great week!