Thursday, March 23, 2006

Brush Mermaid Garden Dish

mermaid detail
Gary writes:

Hello I was trying to id this pottery I have, I've seen one in a antique store like it they said it was McCoy, do you know what maker it is? Or is it McCoy? I would appreciate any help you could give me.

Hi Gary, it's not really McCoy, but Brush (a/k/a "Brush-McCoy"). It's not unusual for people to mix up the companies, because there were 4 generations of McCoys working in the pottery business in Ohio. The following information comes from the McCoy Pottery Collector's Reference & Value Guide by Hanson, Nissen, and Hanson, and The Guide to Brush-McCoy Pottery by Martha and Steve Sanford. So here's the story of Nelson, WF, JW, George, Nelson, Nelson, and Nelson.

In 1848, brothers W. Nelson McCoy and W.F. McCoy formed a pottery business in Zanesville, OH. They made stoneware crocks and jars.

In 1899, W. Nelson's son, James William McCoy, started the J.W. McCoy Pottery company in Roseville, OH.

In 1909, George S. Brush (who founded the Brush Pottery Company in 1906 in Zanesville) became J.W. McCoy's general manager.

In 1911, the two potteries merged to become the Brush-McCoy Pottery company. J.W. McCoy continued to be a principal stockholder until 1925, at which point the company was renamed Brush Pottery.

In 1910, Nelson McCoy (J.W.'s son), along with help from his father, formed the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company in Roseville, OH. Nelson McCoy's wares competed directly with those manufactured by Brush-McCoy. In 1933 this company reorganized to become the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company. After Nelson McCoy died in 1945, his nephew Nelson McCoy Melick became president, and remained president until his death in 1954. At that time, Nelson McCoy Jr. became president. In 1967 the pottery was sold to Mount Clemens Pottery Company, and in 1974 it was sold to Lancaster Colony Corporation. Nelson Jr. remained president throughout that entire time and the pottery was still known as "McCoy." Nelson Jr. Left in 1981, the pottery was sold to Designer Accents in 1985, and they were out of business by 1990. Pottery from this NelsonX3 company is what is known to collectors as "McCoy."

So, on to your planter. It is a #912 garden dish that was made in 1956. Brush made a whole line of garden dishes like that in the 1950's: the ones I see most often are a bear, raccoon, or squirrel on a log, but there are others with seahorses, puppies, birds, etc. Not only is the paint style and quality similar throughout the line, but the real give-away is the bottom of the planter: all of the planting dishes I have seen from that line have the same pattern of unglazed rails on the bottom: turn it on edge and it's shaped like an "E" or a "3."

Sanford's Guide to Brush-McCoy Pottery Vol II lists the value as $60-70 (1997 price guide). Their values tend to be a bit high (especially since I live in the Midwest), and I think the greater availability of stuff on eBay has pushed pottery values down even further. The same authors list the bear or raccoon on log from the same line as $50-60, but I see these in antique malls here in the Midwest for around $12-25. There are several of the animal-on-log planting dishes for sale on eBay right now (search for "log" under Brush-McCoy pottery; there's a bear, squirrel, rabbit, and raccoon), so you might want to monitor what they sell for. Your mermaid is probably worth around 20% more than those, because it's prettier and harder to find.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

American Art Potteries (Morton) Vase

Tamra writes:
Can you tell me any more about the American Art Potteries vases I have, of which I have included some photos? I bought them at a second hand store several years ago because I loved the color combinations, which remind me of the 1950’s. Luckily, one of the vases had the American Art Potteries Norwood sticker remaining. I really haven’t had much luck finding any information on them except for the basic info and chronology of Morton Pottery/American Art Potteries. Apparently, these pieces would have been made between 1947 and 1963. The stickers on the bottom are original price tags reading “1.25”. There are no other identifying marks on the bottoms. The vases show extensive crazing, as you can see on the photo of the sticker. I have found this to be part of their charm though, I suppose, it affects the value of the pieces. I would appreciate any further information you could give me about these pieces.
Norwood vases
Well Tamra, unfortunately your vases are not pictured in the Morton book I have. I have no reason to doubt your ID of them: the sticker is right and the glaze looks right for that pottery, but it looks like I won't be able to give you much more info. In general, vases from the Morton potteries seem to be valued at $15-25 range, more if they're really big or really fancy, so at least that gives you a ballpark figure. I really like their clean lines and their different glazes: they are lovely!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Weller Jardiniere

Christy writes:

This planter is 12" high; the mouth is 12" wide & the base is 7" wide. It belonged to my grandfather. There are no markings on the bottom. Do you know who made it & about how old it is? Thanks!

This beautiful jardiniere is found on page 141 of "The Collector's Guide to Weller Pottery" by Sharon and Bob Huxford. The description is "Colored Glaze Jardiniere, 10", no mark, $150-200" (prices are from 1996). Although you note your piece is 12" across, the picture is identical otherwise.

Weller opened in 1872 and closed in 1948. Based on the coloration, it was probably made sometime between the 1920's and the time the plant closed.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Cookie Jar

Wow, two Brush Twin-Winton cookie jars in a row! I got this photo and an e-mail from Dorie:

I have a Cookie Jar made by the Brush-McCoy Pottery Company.
I hope that the attachment works.
It is Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, with the marking on the bottom "W24" "USA".
It is in excewllent condition, a little crazing on the bottom and the inside bottom, which comes with age.
I have search the internet for information and found nothing.
Finally look in a collectable book and found it, but would like a little more information, can you help me?

Well Dori, it looks like you already have the bulk of the information already, so I can only add a little bit more. Like the Formal Pig described in my last blog entry, Brush's Peter Pumpkin cookie jar was designed by Twin Winton, two brothers who did freelance design for lots of different potteries. It was made in 1959, and in 1996-97 its value was listed at $250-400 (from Sanford's Guide to Brush Pottery Vol I). I haven't found others for sale to be able to verify a more realistic price, but there is currently one up for sale on eBay.

I should probably point out for you and for the last poster that I am not a cookie jar expert, so I don't know which jars have been reproduced and/or how to spot a reproduction. I found on that many Brush cookie jars are known to have been reproduced (including the Formal Pig :( ), but I didn't see this one on the list.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Brush Formal Pig Cookie Jar

pig cookie jar frontpig cookie jar bottomAllison sent me some photos of a cookie jar and wrote:

For years I have had a 'ugly' pig cookie jar in my collection. Recently, I decided to start researching to see for sure what it was that I had.

While doing an internet search, I learned about Brush-McCoy Pottery. In looking through pictures of their cookie jars, I found my 'Formal Pig Green' cookie jar. However, the markings on the bottom of my cookie jar does not match up to any of the marking listed for either Brush or McCoy Potteries.

The markings on my cookie jar are : W 7 and USA. The measurements are approximately 12 inches tall, by 8 inches wide.

Any information you might be able to give me would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Allison, I don't really know much about collecting cookie jars but I do have some of the Brush reference books and I see your pig (the one in the book has a black outfit instead of green, but otherwise looks the same) in Sanford's Guide to Brush-McCoy Pottery, Book 1. The book lists the mold number as W7 (same as yours), and they say that it was made in 1954. The reason the mold number begins with a W is because the cookie jar was designed by Twin-Winton (twin brothers Don and Ross Winton). They designed pottery on a free-lance basis for many of the pottery manufacturers of that time.

The latest price guide I have for that book is 1996-1997, where it is listed in the value range of $190-390. I found a recently completed auction for one on eBay that only went for $53 (he had a chip on his nose), and a listing on another site where they were asking $250, so that gives you a range for the values.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

St. Louis Style Pizza (a/k/a "Pizztata")

I have been meaning to write about St. Louis style pizza. Ha! I bet you didn't even know St. Louis had a pizza style!

St. Louis style pizza is made with thin crust, cut into squares instead of wedges, and it uses a weird cheesey-food-thing called Provel (yes, capitalized!) instead of mozzarella. Wikipedia says it is almost unknown outside of St. Louis and was invented here specifically for pizza, since someone thought we needed a pizza cheese that melts well without the wonderful stringiness of mozzarella that makes biting into a hot pizza so messy. Other sources say that Provel is kind of like the Velveeta of white cheese: a processed blend of provelone, Swiss and cheddar.

Probably the best-known St. Louis style pizza comes from a local chain called Imo's, but it might not be the best ambassador of St. Louis style pizza. In fact, Doug hates it! Their crust is so thin and crispy that it's more like eating a giant tostata than a pizza, so we have dubbed it the "pizztata." Imo's cooks it until the cheese is a scary brown color. The first time I saw an ad for them I thought maybe they just didn't have an A-level photographer taking a picture of their pizza and that it got burnt or something, but I later figured out that their pizzas actually look like that. How do they taste? They're ok but not very satisfying, even for someone like me who prefers thin crust. It didn't help that the one time I ate at one of their restaurants (the other time we had it delivered), it wasn't exactly a clean and inviting place, and the staff's mood floated somewhere between apathetic and surly. Granted that was only one restaurant, but it didn't impress me.

If you want to try a St. Louis style pizza, I recommend Fortel's. Not only was their pizza filling and good, but offer a wide range of toppings so you can get something interesting (like a Reuben or BBQ chicken). They had sauerkraut! Disgusting, you say? Not at all! Sauerkraut is something I have never liked, and fortunately my German mother didn't think it necessary to force us to eat it. But a long time ago Doug made me try a Canadian bacon and sauerkraut pizza (maybe that's a Kansas City thing, who knows) and I've been hooked ever since. Yum!