McCoy and Weller Planters and Vases

By Karen Parr-Moody

Today collectors love American Art Pottery names such as Roseville, Weller and McCoy. And those who are astute in their research will discover that the era from the 1930s to the 1950s was something of a golden age for garden-related items; almost every major pottery company in America made them during this time.  

McCoy planters, such as the one in the photo, right, remain highly collectible today. Often, they feature embossed flowers, such as tulips and daisies. The one at right was molded in the shape of a hyacinth ($55; Booth T-194).


It’s easy to see why McCoy has a famous admirer in the décor doyenne Martha Stewart, who collects both white and mint green shades. Those beautiful McCoy colors are a major lure, as seen in the cotton-candy pink of the footed planter, below left, which is done in the “dogwood” style of the 1950s ($20; Booth T-194). Soft yellows, pale blues and mint greens are the more popular of those famous McCoy colors, with apple green and apricot being among the less common shades.

While the earliest examples of American pottery date to 1772, the most popular of the genre ranged from the late 1800s, and stayed popular until the middle of the 20th century. It was during this period that dozens of commercial potteries sprung up and their decorative vases, figurines and other items populated American homes.

Due to its rich source of clay, Ohio became a hotbed of pottery manufacturers. In addition to McCoy, it was home to Roseville, Weller and Hull. Other pottery names include Cash Family, from Erwin, Tennessee, and Red Wing, which was, appropriately, from Red Wing, Minnesota (where it remains today).


The first McCoy factory dates to 1848, but the J.W. McCoy Pottery Company began, officially, in 1899. For decades it was run by three generations of the McCoy family; it closed five years after the family sold it in 1985. 


McCoy produced pottery in an array of shapes and styles, including cookie jars, dinnerware, jardinières and pedestals, Loy-Nel-Art, planters, vases and flower holders. The more whimsical pieces — those trademark cookie jars — have taken various shapes over the years, including pineapples, pigs and panda bears. But there have also been more conventional forms in that mix. Bowls and vases were often embossed with Greek and Roman designs or swirls similar to Ionic columns; Martha Stewart has a large collection of such items.


McCoy planters, such as the one in the photo at right that depicts a graceful leaf, are popular today, even when they are simple ($42; Booth T-194). There are many reasons for this; among them are the beautiful McCoy colors — and this sweet pink is sure to brighten someone's windowsill this winter.

Samuel A. Weller began his first pottery in 1872 by turning out earthenware jugs, crocks, churns, flowerpots and spittoons for farmers, all from a one-room cabin near Fultonham, Ohio. By 1895 he had turned to statelier wares, influenced by other successful potters in the region. Within 10 years, he owned a large plant and was the largest maker of art pottery in the world.
Through the 1920s Weller was known for pottery depicting characters from Charles Dickens’ novels. The vase pictured at left is typical of another Weller style, that of a matte glaze and raised flowers ($42; Booth T-194).

Today, as always, American Art Pottery is a popular genre. And while more expensive than it once was, it is a reasonably priced genre to take up as a collecting hobby.


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