Fakes and Reproductions Marked McCoyBy Mark Chevenka
Fakes and Reproductions Marked McCoy
New cookie jars marked McCoy have been made since the mid-1990s. New vases, wall pockets and other shapes marked McCoy have been increasingly common in the secondary market. The new McCoy marks appear not only on copies of McCoy products but on copies of pieces originally made by other collectible potteries such as Shawnee and Hull.
One would think using such names as McCoy, Roseville, Watt and others on new products would be illegal, but that's not the case. Once a company goes out of business, there is no corporate legal staff to challenge the use of registered trademarks or brand names. If registration of a trade name expires, it can even be relisted under a new owner. This was the case of the Bauer Pottery name which was registered to a new owner in 1999 and is now used in reproductions .
Unfortunately, this situation makes it difficult for collectors who previously relied on marks to date and authenticate items. Buyers must keep informed of the latest reproductions and how they differ from the originals. Marks alone are not a reliable test of age for many areas of collectibles.
One of the best ways to catch most new pieces marked McCoy is to simply measure a suspected piece. When molds are made from original objects, each step of the process reduces the size of the final product. The great majority of items made from new molds are measurably different than the original. Although differences vary with overall size, it is not unusual for up to one inch difference in relatively small items. The new Uncle Sam vase, for example, is 6½ inches tall; the original is 7¼ inches, a three-quarters inch difference.
Most size differences are fairly easy to detect with a simple ruler or tape measure. But it's a hassle to keep a list of all the original sizes. And you have must have the discipline to actually do the measuring before you buy.
Measuring is particularly important when you buy without examining an item firsthand. Many internet sellers as well as live-auction advertisements frequently round measurements in descriptions. The 6½-inch Uncle Sam vase could easily be listed as 7 inches. If you choose to buy without a hands-on inspection, be sure to request exact measurements.
The other important aspect about size is knowing where to measure. Line drawings have been used to indicate the location of the most important point-to-point dimensions. When working with measurements, keep in mind that original dimensions are based on typical averages for standard production pieces. While measurements are generally very good at separating new from old, don't use measurements as your only test for age. Most new pieces also fail other tests.
Next to size, color is probably the next best test. Many new pieces are made in colors that were never part of the standard original production. The authentic standard McCoy mailbox, for example, was made only in green. New mailboxes (see Fig. 16) are made in five colors. If you find a McCoy-marked mailbox in any color other than green, you should immediately be on your guard for a likely reproduction.
Perhaps the most definite test that leaves no doubt about age is to confirm the original maker. Any piece offered to you as being McCoy should be listed in a McCoy reference book. If you can't locate the piece in a reference book, be wary. One of the reasons some new pieces marked McCoy can't be found in McCoy reference books is that the piece was originally made by another company. The new wall pockets marked McCoy in Figs. 39 and 40, for example, were originally made by Shawnee Pottery and Hull Pottery, not McCoy. Both of these wall pockets can be identified in Shawnee and Hull reference books. Obviously, products known to be made by other potteries should not be marked McCoy. And don't fall for any stories commonly offered to explain such pieces as being made with "loaned" or "experimental" molds or "unsold warehouse samples" and other similar nonsense.
Some of the most widespread new pieces marked McCoy are cookie jars, especially Little Red Riding Hood pieces. Original Little Red Riding Hood cookie jars were made by Hull Pottery, not McCoy. There are also widespread fakes marked Brush McCoy. Many of the new pieces with the Brush McCoy mark were also made by other potters including Hull and Shawnee.
Original McCoy turtle flower holders were produced during the 1940s. The great majority of originals were matte glaze. So far, all the new turtles have a shiny glaze. Both new and old turtles are marked NM, USA on the side. Original turtles are known in white, blue and pale green which are the most common, yellow and rose which are harder to find, and brown which is rare. New turtles have been available in a variety of colors including a cobalt blue never originally made. The sample shown in. Fig. 5 is rose.
Bases on both new and old turtles are unglazed. New turtles are slightly smaller measuring 1¾ inches at the highest point. Originals are 2 inches at the same point.
Original bird and cherry pitchers were introduced to the McCoy line in 1935. The most common color is a pale green.
New and old pitchers are easy to separate. All the new bird and cherries pitchers are marked McCoy (shown above). The original bird and cherries pitcher in this size was never marked. Any piece with the molded mark is a reproduction.
The original Uncle Sam vase was made during the 1940s. Both new and old are marked McCoy on the base (Fig. 12). General production originals were made in only three colors: pale green (aqua), yellow and white. At least four different colors have been produced in the new including aqua, green, pink, blue, white and yellow. Some original vases and some new vases have cold painted decorations. Most original Uncle Sam vases sell for $40 to $50. The new Uncle Sam vases wholesaled for $12 each.
The best test of age is to measure the piece. Original Uncle Sam vases are 7¼ inches tall; new pieces are 6½ inches tall.
Both new and old are marked McCoy in the base. Marks on new and old are virtually identical and not a reliable test of age.
As most pottery collectors already know, molded details and glaze quality can vary considerably from piece to piece. There is no more variation between new and old Uncle Sam vases than there is among originals.
Original McCoy mailboxes were made during the 1950s. The mailbox could be a freestanding flower holder but also had a pierced hole on the back for use as a wall pocket.
Virtually all original production was in green only. New pieces are available in five different colors: aqua, green, pink, white and yellow. Any color other than green is most likely new. Suspected pieces in green can be tested by measuring the height. New pieces are smaller than originals, typically 6½ to 6¼ inches; originals are 6¾ to 7 inches.
The original berry and leaves fan vase was produced during the early 1940s. Originals were made in a variety of colors including, but not limited to, white, burgundy, yellow and green. Both new and old are marked McCoy in the base. New vases are being made in green, pink, blue and yellow. New pieces were $10 each wholesale; originals bring an average of $45 to $60.
During the late 1930s, McCoy made a dog feeding dish with the words "To Man's Best Friend, His Dog" molded around the edge. The original is known in brown, yellow and green. Original pieces are marked McCoy, Made in USA on the bottom. Genuine dishes are valued at $60-90.
New dishes are also marked McCoy, Made in USA on the base. Colors of new dishes include yellow, blue, aqua and rose or pink. The new pieces wholesaled for $13 each.
There are several tests to separate new from old. First, examine the overall shape. When viewed from above, old dishes form a nearly perfect circle. New dishes are often very irregularly shaped looking more like an oval or with flattened areas.
Next, look at the top rim. New rims very frequently vary in width, often as much as a quarter-inch or more. New rims often look crude with obvious flaws like gouges, dents and flat areas. Original top rims are very nearly perfectly uniform in width and only rarely have any quality problems other than very minor flaws.
Another unusual feature in one of our new samples was a "ghost" image of the mark on the outside which appeared on the inside of the bowl.
The original leaves and berry wall pocket was made during the 1940s. Authentic pieces are valued at $200 to $300. Reproductions are sold for $10 wholesale. Originals were made in a variety of colors. New pieces are also made in over ten colors. Some of the more common new colors seem to be yellow, green and pink.
It's relatively easy to separate new from old. Old pieces were never marked; the backs of old pieces are smooth. New pieces have a raised McCoy mark on the back.
Like most other reproduction McCoy, the new leaves and berry wall pocket is smaller than the original. The backs of new wall pockets are 6½ inches; the originals are 7 inches.
The original lady in bonnet wall pocket was introduced in 1943 and remained in production during the 1940s. The great majority of general production originals were white. Many, but not all, pieces had cold painted decorations, red polka-dots the most common color scheme. Originals in typical glaze and standard decoration sell for $50 to $60.
Reproduction lady in bonnet wall pockets are currently available cobalt blue, pale green, white and pink. So far no new pieces have been seen with cold painted decoration, but new painted examples are possible. The new wall pockets are selling for $13 each.
Both new and old are marked McCoy on the back so marks are not a reliable test of age. In this case, color and size are the best ways to authentic a suspected piece. Any color other than white should automatically be suspect and be carefully inspected. New pieces are about 7 inches; originals are about 8 inches.
The authentic McCoy flower and bird wall pocket was introduced in 1948. The large flower was originally produced in pink, yellow (shown below) and blue. Original examples sell for $45 to $60. In this case, the new example is not marked McCoy; the original is marked McCoy. The mark on the original appears between two ridges on the lower back.
The new piece is also smaller than the original. New measures 6 inches tall; original, 6½ inches. The source and cost of the new flower and bird are not known.
New items marked McCoy originally made by other potters
New pieces of pottery with the McCoy mark aren't limited to copies of only original McCoy. New pieces which copy pieces by other potteries are also appearing with McCoy marks.
The 6½-inch frog wall pocket in Fig. 37, for example, was never made by McCoy. Yet new pieces marked McCoy, USA were previously sold for $10 each by a reproduction wholesaler. All the new wall pockets are green.
Similarly, the bird wall pocket in Fig. 39 was originally made by Shawnee Pottery, not McCoy. New pieces marked McCoy were available in pink, yellow, blue and white for $10 each.
The new wall pocket in Fig. 40 is also marked McCoy. This shape, though, is a copy of a Hull Pottery wall pocket. This piece was never produced by McCoy Pottery. The example shown here has pale pink trim around a pale cream-colored body.
For detailed references on original McCoy Pottery, see the following:
Hanson/Nissen, McCoy Pottery, Vols I-II-III; Collectors Books; 300+ p. 2002-2003.
Huxford, Collectors Encyclopedia of McCoy Pottery, Collectors Books; 240 p. 1999.
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