|By Susan Emerson Nutter
ZANESVILLE, OHIO — Ever since artist Andy Warhol was photographed carrying a vintage cookie jar while shopping the iconic New York City flea markets; and thereby making flea markets and cookie jars legit… these iconic countertop treasures of childhood pasts have been in high demand.
When the personal collection of the family from THE most collected cookie jar manufacturer – Nelson McCoy Pottery Company of Roseville, Ohio, comes to auction… well, stand back.
Jeff Koehler, Koehler Auctions of Zanesville, Ohio, conducted the auction; selling the personal pottery collection of Billie and Nelson McCoy. The auction included experimental production pieces that McCoy collectors often only dream about ever owning.
“This was a live auction,” Koehler said. “We did not use the internet, and for this auction, there was no buyer’s premium, meaning the hammer price was the realized price; and the auction hall was packed.”
As was expected, cookie jars lead the sale, though as Koehler pointed out, “Items all day long were going for crazy money.” Pieces decorated in sample glazes or items wearing decoration that was never produced were coveted as were numerous hard-to-find cookie jars.
Nelson’s father started the McCoy Pottery in Roseville in 1910. Nelson, himself, ran the pottery from 1954 to 1981. Watch this short interview with both Nelson, and his wife Billie (http://mccoypotterycollectorssociety.org/video/interview-with-nelson-billie-mccoy-video/). At the beginning of the clip, you will see a showcase in the couple’s home filled with the items that made up this Koehler event; specifically the auction’s top two lots.
Commanding a stunning $25,000 was the McCoy Hillbilly Bear cookie jar featuring a bear wearing overalls, pipe in his mouth, bottle in one hand, sitting on a log. “Just recently a cookie jar collector was featured on the Martha Stewart Show, and he mentioned there was one jar that was his Holy Grail; it being the McCoy Hillbilly Bear jar,” Koehler said. “The collector did say he was going to have the opportunity to possibly purchase this jar in July.”
Also seen in the showcase on the video was the sale’s next highest lot – the McCoy Fox and Grapes cookie jar. With its tail wrapped around his body and holding a bunch of grapes, this jar most likely is referencing the Aesop fable “The Fox and the Grapes.” This stunner sold for $19,000.
Many collectors seek out black memorabilia. A McCoy Chef cookie jar featuring a man and woman as well as two ducks to be cooked and a green pan to do so was bid to $17,000.
Nelson McCoy’s favorite cookie jar; this being the McCoy Bunch of Grapes in bold purple sold for $9,000 and a McCoy Sniffing Dog cookie jar made $13,500 even though it was missing its lid!
Non-cookie jar McCoy items that sold strong included the McCoy World War II Allied planter that included a lion wearing a crown representing England; a hammer and sickle for Russia, and an Eagle with stars for the United States.
This piece went to $16,500, while a 7 inch tall McCoy World War II Victory vase earned $8,000
A McCoy Bird wall plaque depicting a mother bird, worm in beak, preparing to feed her hungry brood of four was done in pleasingly pale colors of blue, yellow, and green, and was won with a bid of $15,500.
Koehler pointed to how a mass-produced, basic shape vase took on more significance with collectors because its applied flowers were done by artist Leslie Cope. One such example decorated with a single yellow bloom and three green leaves; almost having an Asian feel, sold for $5,800.
At the preview for this auction, Koehler Auctions served food from a variety of pieces from McCoy Pottery’s El Rancho line which dates from 1960 making for a fun display. “We used the coffeepot as a vase; the hat and bowl to hold chocolate and nuts, and those who attended the preview loved it,” Koehler said.
And they also loved the auction. It was the place to be if McCoy is your passion, and if by chance this auction was missed; know that Part II of the Billie and Nelson McCoy collection of McCoy pottery will take place in July of 2019.
Contact: (740) 819-8441