I’m back! I’ll leave my absence unexplained but let’s just say it involved espionage and sports car chases through exotic locales. It was definitely not due to tax preparation.
I thought I might dip my toe back into blog writing by introducing yet another of my collections – vintage McCoy pottery. Vintage McCoy planters to be exact, and in this entry at least, green planters. Here’s the small assortment I have right now:
As you can see, I haven’t actually planted anything in my planters, but rest assured these vintage beauties are fully functional. I hope to install narrow glass shelves on our dining room window and display some of my McCoy collection with plants. I love the idea of having partial privacy from the planters, while at the same time allowing light to filter into the room. The plants should do well in the light and the shelves will be in a corner so they won’t be in the way. I know this type of window shelving was more popular in the 1950s but there’s no reason not to revive the trend today if it fits your space! Even Martha Stewart is a fan, as you can see from this photo I found on her website:
Even if you’re not at the point of renovating the windows, McCoy pottery is still a very approachable and affordable brand to collect. McCoy started back in 1910 in as a sanitary and stoneware company in clay rich Zanesville, Ohio. The wares first made by the company were more utilitarian in nature, but then in the 1930s they began to market more decorative pieces for the home. Much like the Shiny Brite company, McCoy pottery became very popular with middle class families in the 1950s due to their quality workmanship and mass-produced price. McCoy branched out from mugs and kitchen ware to include planters, cookie jars, jardines, wall pockets and vases. The items came in a huge variety of shape, colour and glaze. I collect pretty much exclusively the planters, but even in this one area I can easily find shapes ranging from flowers to animals, birds, fish and even boots. Take a look at the variety in my small collection of green, standard shaped planters:
Notice the glazing on the bamboo planter (vintage from the 1960s):
The beautiful variations in colour and glaze make every piece unique. The more common shapes and colours are still found for affordable prices. For instance I found this chalice inspired planter at my local thrift store for $10:
You ever hear the expression “the real McCoy”? Well, that’s actually a very old Scottish saying and nothing to do with pottery at all, but it does serve as a memorable warning about McCoy knock offs. The brand is so popular that newly made reproductions have been found in many styles. Collectors who buy pieces worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars must carefully inspect the mark and the quality of the clay before purchase. The marks varied throughout the years, and some items were never marked in the first place. Marks can be convincingly replicated on reproductions, but what is harder to replicate is the heavy clay used in real vintage McCoy. New pottery is more brittle and less dense. The glazing might not be as expertly applied, or cover the proper amount of the surface as well. In general, the knock offs look and feel cheaper than their authentic counterparts. Try to get your hands on some real ones and inspect them carefully to know what feels right.
Don’t let the fear of knock-offs stop you from picking up one of these delightful pieces if you find one at an antique show or in your local SallyAnne. Online sales can be a bit tricky, but this is where feedback and reputation are important. I’ve bought from reputable dealers online with no problems at all. The real McCoys are still available and affordable in many styles. If you are in doubt about making a substantial purchase, you can use the links below to help guide your decision. I’ll profile more of my McCoy pottery later, as well as any updates on those dreamy glass shelves 🙂
Real McCoy Links (about real McCoys!):
Chiquita’s McCoy Pottery – Chiquita likes McCoy a LOT. Great photos of her vast collection, as well as collecting tips and historical information.
McCoy Pottery Online – Marks, history, photos, auctions and all things McCoy.
great new post, new collector.. Especially helpful giving the identification links. These lovely and useful pots are one reason it can still be worth stopping at a yard sale or Sally Ann shop. There’s still lots of them around and you can get lucky.
Definitely! I found one just around the corner at the charity thrift shop. When I took it up to the front the lady was happy for me. She said “oh! It’s a McCoy. How nice!”. It was a good purchase all around 🙂
Great information as usual. Please follow up on this topic by showing us some of the more exotic pieces in your collection…
I will definitely be expanding on my collection in future entries. Thank you for your comments!
I have a vintage flower pot & curious what it’s worth. It is 4″ high & the opening is 5 1/2 “. It is lighter green than the ones on your web site & has leafy detail around the outside. The botton is stamped Mc Coy USA.
Hi Shelly! I’m sorry I can’t appraise your item. I would check the websites I mentioned in this post (McCoy Pottery Online especially), and the completed ebay auctions to see if something similar sold and at what price. Good luck!
In the early 1950’s, my mother bought 2 beautiful, shiny flower planters. I have no idea who they were made by. I am hoping someone can help me for I would love to have one or even a photo of one. It was a bird nest on a tree limb with a bird sitting on the limb. I think there was a blue jay on one and a robin red breast on the other planter. Thank you!
Thank you for such a well-written article on McCoy planters, I think the collectible value of these is really unappreciated today, but the entry-level cost to get pieces is one of the best features. There are great deals out there on McCoy pottery planters, and anyone can have a great collection with a small budget and a little effort.
Thank you for such a nice comment, and I totally agree. The typically low cost is a great incentive to start collecting.
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