Vintage McCoy Pottery – Green Planters

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:

Green McCoy planters

Those colours are a bit brighter than normal. Guess who has two thumbs and recently discovered all the settings on her new camera? This girl!

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:

Glass shelves in window

Mmmmm. That's tasteful.

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:

Try to find something this nice at Walmart for ten bucks.

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.

McCoy pottery marks

You can see the variety of McCoy marks on even this small selection of items.

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 ūüôā

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.

Antiques for Holiday Decoration

Christmas is a nostalgic holiday, steeped in past traditions. It’s no surprise then that this is also the time of year when the home decor shops bring out their artfully ‘distressed” reproduction antiques. Have you been in a Pottery Barn lately? It’s all reproduction vintage tree bulbs, tarnished vases and “weather-beaten” thingamabobs. This year they even have reproduction folk art from the American Folk Art Museum collection! On one hand, this is good. It shows a market interest in antiques and folk art that should ultimately benefit everyone related to the business. On the other hand, these reproductions are not cheap. They cost in some cases as much or more than real antiques. And, most importantly, they are mass-produced! There is no real character to the objects – none of the stories and history that give antiques appeal.

As a counter argument to all the reproductions out there, I submit a few real antiques I found on Collectivator this evening. I just searched keywords like “Christmas” and “winter” to find some lovely objects that you could use as part of your holiday decor as well as your every day collection. These pieces will add authentic nostalgic appeal to your holidays, and maintain their value. Take a look:

Folk Art Cabins

Miniature folk art cabins

How adorable are these two vintage miniature cabins? They come from Quebec and have great details like cellophane windows, glittery snow and real metal axe. This is real folk art for a great price: the cabin with logs is $75.00 and the larger house is $145.00. They are offered by Shadfly Antiques.

Antique wagon

Or how about this charming circa 1890 wagon? Imagine this filled with evergreen boughs or gifts! It would be a wonderful piece anytime of the year but during the holidays it would be a centrepiece. This wagon is offered by Land & Ross Antiques.

Squirrel Nutcracker

This antique cast iron nutcracker is around 100 years old, still useful, and a refreshing departure from the traditional Christmas nutcracker. This little fella is priced at $195.00 from Shaun Markey Antiques.

Child's Sleigh

Child's Push Sleigh

Finally, this 19th century child’s push sleigh with original paint is right out of a print by Currier and Ives! The shape, form and colour are all beautiful, and it’s in excellent condition. Priced at $800 from Wendy Hamilton Antiques, this would be the pi√®ce de r√©sistance of any Christmas decoration.

All these items are real antiques that serve beautifully as decoration but also as valuable additions to your home and collection. While these antiques are from Collectivator, antiques from any source can be just as attainable and suited for the holidays. I know some of these items may be out of your price range (mine too) but take what you can’t afford as inspiration. Think outside the box, or the pottery barn, and you might be surprised by what’s out there!