McCoy Pottery? The Quest to Find the Real McCoy

by: Amy Metz

The words, “McCoy Pottery” are enough to evoke images of whimsical cookie jars and sturdy utilitarian brown dinnerware. McCoy Pottery has quickly become one of the major collectibles in the world of pottery. Unlike many trends that come and go, McCoy remains consistently popular and sought after, even by some with only a passing interest in pottery. The “Mammy” cookie jar with cauliflower is claimed to have been first made by McCoy – but it has been reproduced a lot.

McCoy Pottery styles have changed over the years. Styles follow what is happening in the world around us and pottery is no different. There was a time when entertaining was a universal position for every homemaker in America. These days the time spent home-making is not as practical as days gone past. Dinnerware and decorative ware alike is represented by and reflected in the styles McCoy pottery has offered through the years.

Started in 1910 as the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co. in Roseville Ohio, Nelson and his father J.W. McCoy began what would become a pottery company that with stood the test of time. Being as popular and useful today as it was almost one hundred years ago has made McCoy Pottery one of the few American pottery companies that most people know about. McCoy pottery was immediately successful. They made practical items such as foot warmers and food storage items.  

Roseville Ohio was also the location of the J.W. McCoy Pottery that was founded in 1899 by Nelson McCoy’s grandfather W. Nelson McCoy. Up until 1925 general manager George Brush became a partner the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co. became Brush-McCoy Pottery Company. In 1925 expansion began and with it came new and more decorative pottery ideals. This expansion gave way to a larger facility with more decorative pottery items introduced.

The Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co. survived and thrived for some years and was known to start a revolution with their immense selection of cookie jars. The McCoy cookie jars were well known and to this day are highly collectible. Thus they have also been reproduced and the name McCoy misused more than any other name in the pottery industry.

When buying old McCoy pottery you must be wary of reproductions. There is an immense selection of recent pottery that will give you cause to pause when selecting just the perfect gift for a loved one. Treasures are found even when we aren’t looking, so keeping an eye out for unique and decorative McCoy pottery pieces while enjoying a day of thrift shopping, or a morning of yard hopping may actually yield a delightfully rare real McCoy.

A buyer won’t have to look hard to find in-depth information on whether you have bought the real McCoy or a fake. There are also ways to determine this before you buy. The best advice is if you are feeling funny about the seller’s story about a particular McCoy Pottery item it is best to pass on the potential heartache of paying full price for a fake. On the other hand, many collectors aren’t set on having the real thing. As long as you’re aware of the details ahead of time, there is nothing wrong with having a clearly marked reproduction of the real McCoy’s.

About The Author

Amy Metz is the author of “Pottery Shopping: Price Comparison” Grab your free copy at

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