> McCoy Pottery: Vintage Ceramics from Zanesville, Ohio

A History of the McCoy Pottery Company

The story of the McCoy Pottery Company seems more to be a story about people than about pottery. Throughout its existence the business has changed names, just as it changed its pottery styles and lines. Before closing forever in 1990 it went through many incarnations.

In 1848, William Nelson McCoy built a small pottery factory in Zanesville, Ohio. He produced crude crocks, jars, jugs, and churns required by the settlers and farmers in the region. His son J.W. McCoy moved to Roseville, Ohio around 1871 and opened a general store in 1876. At the time, the demand for pottery was higher than could be met by the local kilns, so in 1886 he co-established the Kildow, Williams, and McCoy Pottery Company. He provided wholesale pottery to other establishments as well as selling through his own store retail. In 1888 the company was renamed as the Midland Pottery Company, and 10 years later in 1898 it was sold to the Roseville Pottery Company.

In 1899 J.W. McCoy formed a new company with himself as the sole owner. He continued making simple utility ware, but many pieces were marked 'W.F McCoy Wholesale, dealer of Stoneware, Zanesville, Ohio'. In 1904, J.W. McCoy took note of the art pottery being produced by other potters in the area, and began to branch out into that field. He found the experiment to be highly successful, and his vases, flowerpots and jardinieres sold quickly. In 1911, George Brush purchased controlling interest in the company, and the name was changed to the Brush-McCoy Pottery Company. In 1918 the McCoy family sold their remaining interest in the company, and in 1925 the name 'McCoy' was dropped and the company continued on as the Brush Pottery Company until closing its doors in 1982.

In 1910, J.W. McCoy assisted his young son, Nelson McCoy in creating a new company, the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company. The fledgling company initially produced utility stoneware, but quickly added more artistic pieces to its repertoire. By 1933 the demand for decorative pieces was far outstripping the orders for utility ware, and so with the new focus on art pottery the name was changed to simply 'The Nelson McCoy Pottery Company'. It is this company that collectors know as McCoy pottery, and for 57 years the company continued to produce decorative pottery until it was sold in 1967 to the Mount Clemens Pottery Company. The new owners produced pottery from McCoy molds until the company was sold once more, this time to Lancaster County in 1974. These new owners also produced McCoy pottery, with Nelson McCoy still assisting with production. In 1981 Nelson retired, and by 1985 the company was sold once more. This time it was sold to Designer Accents who merged the two companies under the name of Nelson McCoy Ceramics. Five years later the company found itself bankrupt, and closed forever in 1990.

Some of the earlier Brush-McCoy lines are listed below.

  • (1912) Loy-Nel-Art
  • (1912) Woodland
  • (1914) Navarre Faience
  • (1913) Mat Green
  • (1914) Cleo
  • (1915) Blue Bird
  • (1920) Onyx
  • (1920s) King Tut
  • (1922) Jetwood
  • (1924) Jewel
  • (1924) Zuniart
  • (1926) Florastone