The Most Valuable Rare McCoy Pottery Pieces (One Sold For $9,275)

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, ornamental pottery experienced a golden age in America, with innovative brands like McCoy Pottery leading the charge. By combining imaginative designs with expert craftsmanship, McCoy produced some of the most coveted decorative ceramics of the era. Today, the rarest McCoy Pottery pieces are highly sought-after treasures that can sell for thousands at auction.

In this guide, we‘ll explore the fascinating history behind McCoy Pottery‘s rise to fame. You‘ll also discover the stories behind the 10 most valuable McCoy Pottery pieces in existence, some of which have sold for nearly five figures. Whether you‘re a serious collector or simply appreciate the timeless beauty of vintage ceramics, join us on this journey through the colorful world of rare McCoy Pottery.

The Captivating History of McCoy Pottery

McCoy Pottery‘s roots trace back to 1848 when James W. McCoy founded the J.W. McCoy Pottery Company in Roseville, Ohio. In the early days, McCoy primarily produced practical stoneware items like jugs and crocks. But under the leadership of J.W.‘s son Nelson in the early 1900s, the company began to focus more on artful, decorative ceramics.

Nelson McCoy was a visionary who expanded the company‘s offerings to include a variety of eye-catching art pottery, figurines, and housewares featuring bright colors and imaginative designs. Many pieces were hand-painted by talented artists of the day. McCoy‘s style was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which celebrated traditional craftsmanship and natural motifs.

By the 1920s and 30s, McCoy Pottery was a well-known name among art pottery connoisseurs. Hollywood celebrities collected the brand‘s wares, further boosting its popularity and prestige. Despite challenges posed by the Great Depression, World War II, and the rise of cheaper mass-produced imports in the mid-20th century, McCoy managed to stay afloat by pivoting to more casual kitchenwares like their famous cookie jars.

Sadly, in 1990, after over 140 years in business, the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company closed its doors for good. By that time, the public‘s tastes had largely shifted away from hand-crafted pottery. But McCoy‘s legacy was firmly cemented. Today, collectors pay hefty sums for the priviledge of owning the brand‘s rarest, most exquisite vintage pieces. In the next section, we‘ll count down the top 10 most valuable McCoy Pottery rarities and the stories behind them.

The 10 Rarest and Most Valuable McCoy Pottery Pieces

#10. "Blossom Time" Art Deco Vase – Sold for $1,500

McCoy Pottery Blossom Time vase

This stunning vase from McCoy‘s Blossom Time line captures the glamorous Art Deco style of the 1920s. The mint green glaze and pink cherry blossom design made this an instant classic. Very few in this particular colorway are known to exist, accounting for the impressive $1,500 auction price.

#9. Parrot Coffee Server – Sold for $1,750

McCoy Pottery parrot coffee server

Novelty animal designs were a McCoy specialty, and none are more iconic than this vibrant parrot coffee server from the 1940s. Complete sets with the original lid, tray, and cups are incredibly hard to come by, making this a holy grail item for serious collectors. The lucky winner took it home for $1,750.

#8. "Monkey In Palm Tree" Cookie Jar – Sold for $2,500

McCoy Pottery monkey in palm tree cookie jar

McCoy cookie jars are legendary, and the "Monkey In Palm Tree" design is among the most beloved and hardest to find. Whimsical details like the monkey‘s toothy grin and coconuts used as the lid handle demonstrate the brand‘s signature playfulness. In mint condition, this 1950s cookie jar commanded $2,500.

#7. Owl On Stump Wall Pocket – Sold for $3,250

McCoy Pottery owl on stump wall pocket

"Wall pockets" that could hold flowers or other decorative objects were a popular McCoy item. The owl on stump design from the 1940s, glazed in an unusual marbled green, is one of the rarest. A near-perfect specimen recently changed hands for an impressive $3,250.

#6. Art Deco "Jeweled" Vase – Sold for $3,750

McCoy Pottery Art Deco jeweled vase

McCoy‘s "Jeweled" line featured stylized geometric forms studded with colorful raised dots resembling gemstones or beads. This black and turquoise vase, likely a prototype that never went into full production, is the only one of its kind known to exist. It sold at auction for a gem-worthy $3,750.

#5. Standard Gloss Yellow Turtle – Sold for $4,000

McCoy Pottery standard gloss yellow turtle figurine

Animal figurines were a staple of McCoy. But this bright yellow turtle with gloss glaze is so rare, it wasn‘t even known to the collecting community until 2006. Experts speculate it may have been a salesman‘s sample or special order. Only a few exist, and one lucky buyer snapped it up for $4,000.

#4. One-Of-A-Kind Wild Donkey – Sold for $4,750

McCoy Pottery one-of-a-kind wild donkey figurine

Here‘s another incredibly rare animal figurine – a realistically sculpted donkey finished in mottled earth tones. The astonishing level of detail suggests this was the work of a master artisan, likely as a showpiece or special commission. Confirmed as one-of-a-kind, this spectacular sculpture brayed its way to a $4,750 bid.

#3. Blue And White "Onyx" Jardiniere – Sold for $6,500

McCoy Pottery blue and white onyx jardiniere

McCoy‘s "Onyx" line of jardinieres (cachepots for flowers) was produced for only one year in 1923. This early and extremely rare blue and white swirled example, with its striking marbled glaze, is considered the holy grail of Onyx pieces. In outstanding condition, it sold for a whopping $6,500.

#2. One-Of-A-Kind "Resting Rabbit" – Sold for $7,000

McCoy Pottery one-of-a-kind resting rabbit figurine

Another unique, finely-detailed animal figurine, this large-scale resting rabbit statue features naturalistic hand-painting and an endearing expression. Experts have never found evidence of this design in catalogs or other company records, indicating it was likely a one-off special creation. Some lucky collector hopped away with it for $7,000.

#1. 1800s Signed "Davy Crockett" Lemonade Jug – Sold for $9,275

Davy Crockett lemonade jug

The most valuable McCoy Pottery piece is this highly sought-after limited edition jug featuring the legendary folk hero Davy Crockett. This intricate sculpture shows Crockett and his trusty hunting dog at the base and comes with an aged lemonade dispenser. Incredibly rare and historically significant, it fetched a staggering $9,275.

Tips for Identifying Authentic Rare McCoy Pottery

With such high prices for rare pieces, it‘s critical to avoid fakes. Here are some key things to look for to identify genuine McCoy Pottery:

  • Maker‘s marks: Most pieces are marked on the bottom with "McCoy" or "McC" in various styles.
  • Mold numbers: Look for embossed numbers, though some very old pieces predate this practice.
  • Signatures: A few high-end or commissioned pieces feature an artist‘s signature.
  • Glaze and color: McCoy was known for rich, vivid colors and innovative glazing techniques that are difficult to replicate. Fakes often look "flat."
  • Weight and thickness: Genuine McCoy tends to have some heft and thickness compared to thinner, lighter counterfeits.

Resources for McCoy Pottery Collectors

  • McCoy Pottery Collectors‘ Society: Provides identification/valuation services and extensive archives. A go-to resource.
  • Antique Malls and Dealers: Reputable antiques dealers and shows are great places to find authenticated pieces.
  • Reference Books: Authoritative McCoy Pottery references include works by Mark F. Moran, Hanson Jr., and Nissen.
  • Online Marketplaces: For buying and selling, look for verified sellers on Ruby Lane, Etsy, eBay, etc. Facebook groups can also connect you with knowledgeable collectors.

Carrying on the Legacy of an American Treasure

McCoy Pottery represents the pinnacle of American ceramic art, and the astounding prices commanded by its rarest specimens reflect their historical importance and timeless beauty. Fueled by the passion and artistry of visionaries like Nelson McCoy, the company left an indelible mark on the worlds of art pottery and home decor over its 140-year history.

Today, the hunt for rare McCoy pieces is an exciting treasure hunt for collectors around the world who appreciate superb craftsmanship. While not every vintage McCoy find will fetch four or five figures, these ceramic marvels are always a delight to behold. By learning to spot an authentic rarity, collectors can help preserve the legacy of an American institution for generations to come.

So the next time you spot a charming figurine or gorgeously glazed vase at an estate sale or thrift store, take a closer look – you could be holding a valuable piece of pottery history in your hands!

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