Rare McCoy Pottery: 18 Most Valuable Pieces Worth Money!

As an avid collector, I’m sure you’d like to have a rare McCoy pottery piece on your shelf. But how do you know which McCoy piece is rare and which one’s just a common ceramic?

McCoy Pottery has made many functional pieces since the 1910s, but some pieces were short-lived due to less popularity or because they were made for special occasions. Such McCoy pieces are quite rare today, driving collectors crazy!

This article unravels the most valuable and rarest McCoy pottery with its prices and rare features. You’ll learn how to spot a rare McCoy piece and its right values.

History of McCoy Pottery Company

McCoy Pottery Company is the biggest and most recognizable ceramic manufacturer in America.

  • 1910: Nelson McCoy and his father, J.W. McCoy, founded the “Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Company” in Roseville, Ohio. Soon, it started working under the American Clay Products Company (ACPC) along with other pottery companies.
  • 1929: Nelson changed the company’s name to “Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co.” to make it recognizable as a separate brand. Around this time, the company also started marking its wares.
  • 1933: During the Great Depression, the factory’s name was changed again to “Nelson McCoy Pottery Co.” It started producing decorative pottery with its art pottery line.
  • 1940s – 50s: During this time, the company also made utilitarian wares during World War II. But it became popular for its colorful, decorative pieces, like McCoy vases, planters, cookie jars, etc., in the late 1940s and 50s.
  • 1967: After running the company for three generations, Nelson’s grandson, Nelson McCoy Jr., sold it to Mount Clemens Pottery Company. Lancaster Colony Corporation acquired it in 1974.

Finding Rare McCoy Pottery

Nelson McCoy Pottery produced countless items at its peak time. Small and common pieces of McCoy pottery sell for around $5 – $20, while large pottery is generally worth $50 – $200 today. But rare old McCoy pottery can fetch up to a few thousand dollars in excellent condition.

To find out if a McCoy piece is rare, look for the following clues:

  • McCoy Pottery Marks: Pieces with old McCoy pottery marks, like “McCoy,” “NM,” “USA,” “McCoy USA,” and “Nelson McCoy” are difficult to find.
  • Prototype Pieces: A single testing piece of a McCoy line that was not produced later.
  • Rare Glazes and Colors: Old glaze lines like the Onyx Line (Red Onyx and Brown Onyx), matte glaze lines (light mat green and dark mat green), Bristol ware, and Ivory are quite rare and valuable.
  • Special Pottery Lines: Limited edition pottery lines with rare patterns, like the “Loy-Nel-Art line,” “Blossom Time line,” “Olympia line,” “Cherokee line,” and “Strawberry Country” are some of the old and precious lines.
  • Unique Limited Edition Shapes: Pottery pieces in distinctive shapes that were produced for a limited time are considered rare and valuable.

18 Valuable & Rare McCoy Pottery Pieces to Find!

Here are the 18 most valuable and rarest McCoy pottery items that can make a real good fortune!

1. McCoy Giraffe Vase by Sidney Cope

Let’s start the list with reportedly the most valuable McCoy Pottery: the Giraffe Vase by McCoy designer Sidney Cope, which was sold at $4,200 on LiveAuctioneers.

This unique figural vase features three giraffes in a semi-matte brown glaze with slight lavender tints. This McCoy piece is very rare as only two of such vases by Sidney Cope have been found yet!

2. Squirrel Cookie Jar

Like the Giraffe Vase, McCoy’s Multicolor Squirrel Cookie Jar is another extremely rare piece to find today. It’s shaped like a squirrel holding a nut and is finished with a rare reddish-brown glaze with a tint of aqua color in the front.

As of 2024, only one authentic marked Fox Squirrel Cookie Jar has reportedly been auctioned, and the buyer paid around $4,000 for it!

3. Freddy the Gleep Cookie Jar

The next rare McCoy pottery is again a rare cookie jar! Freddy the Gleep is a limited-edition McCoy cookie jar from 1974 shaped as “Freddy Gleep” with a shiny bright yellow glaze with bright red paint on the mouth, eyes, and lid handle.

The Freddy jar has been sold at staggering prices of $1,900 to $2,500, making it one of the most valuable McCoy pottery!

4. McCoy Limited Halloween Orange Ghost Lantern

Ghost Lanterns are McCoy Limited’s Halloween pottery popular Halloween collectibles. This rare lantern is shaped like a smiling ghost with big cut-out eyes, a smile, and hollow hands for light.

Usually, this ghost lantern comes in white or off-white glaze, but a rare Orange Ghost Lantern was auctioned for $800 at the McCoy Pottery Collectors Society’s Auctions!

If you see marked or unmarked McCoy Limited Ghost Lanterns with one or both hands up in the air, it’s likely a fake model. The real lantern has both its hands down.

5. McCoy Fish Planter

You won’t believe this tiny fish planter was sold for a whopping $800 at McCoy Pottery Auctions! This stunning McCoy piece features the iconic rare pastels, like green and pink.

Besides, the finely detailed embossed patterns on the fish’s body, like fins, gills, head, mouth, etc., are a true testament to antique craftsmanship; no wonder it holds steep price tags of hundreds of dollars!

7. 1956-57 Zebra Planter

This McCoy zebra planter is a rare piece as it’s one of the top 100 pieces in the “Hanson Nissen McCoy Pottery Guide” and was manufactured only during 1956-57.

It features a zebra and a foal with intricate hand-painted stripes, manes, and other fine details. You can find this rare McCoy Zebra Planter at a high value of $600-$900 on Etsy, eBay, or an online auction.

8. Rare Cook Stove Cookie Jar

As the name states, this McCoy cookie jar is shaped like a vintage stove with hand-painted details, like handles, knobs, hinges, and other detailed decorations. This rare McCoy jar is available in black and white colors, and both are valuable, easily selling for $400 to $750!

6. Iris Cobalt Blue & Green Jardiniere w/ Pedestal 

This McCoy pottery piece is unique because of both its colors and pattern. It features a beautiful Sinuous Irises pattern and deep cobalt blue and green glaze, which I’ve hardly seen on an oversized pottery item like jardiniere. So, this “jard and ped” set sold for over $690.

9. “Stretch Lion” Ceramic Planter 

Being a rare McCoy decorative line, this small ceramic lion-shaped planter will be a perfect treasure for any vintage table. It has a hollow body with an open section at the top to be filled with soil or pebbles.

The stretch lion planter is generally found in a white glaze and is worth around $300-$400 in good condition. But it’s also rarely found in blue color, which can be quite valuable. A blue stretch lion planter fetched over $575 on Koehler Auctions!

10. Flower Holder Planter No. K-25

Although not marked, this simplistic McCoy planter with aqua glaze from the 1940s is one of the most desirable pieces for collectors, including me (but I haven’t been lucky yet).

According to the McCoy Pottery Collectors Society, this canoe-shaped planter is extremely scarce. It’s not listed in the pricing catalog of the 1941 pieces due to being less popular among users and, hence, being dropped from the line.

11. Earthy Cold Painted Handled Vase

Cold-painted earthy beige, this McCoy vase displays interesting patterns in muted colors, like pale green leaves and muted red, pale yellow, and lavender circles.

You’ll find straight handles on the sides. These McCoy rare jars are generally estimated to be around $200, but a similar vase fetched a whopping $500 on LiveAuctioneers despite chipped paint.

12. 1910s McCoy Green Mermaid Jardiniere

This whimsical jardiniere displays a mermaid with flowing hair emerging out of the ocean waves. The jard has a rare “deep mat green glaze” from the 1910s on the background with off-white waves, clouds, and a mermaid.

A Green Mermaid Jardiniere was listed for a high value of $700 – $900 on LiveAuctioneers, but it only fetched around $500!

13. McCoy Toothpick Holder 

It may come as a surprise, but a small ceramic toothpick holder from the McCoy family is a valuable collectible. It’s a small 3’’ holder shaped like teeth with a white glaze. A white McCoy toothpick holder sold for over $450 on Koehler Auctions

14. Rare Seafoam Green Jardiniere with Matching Pedestal

This special McCoy Jardiniere would steal your attention with its quilted light seafoam green body and a matching quilted pedestal.

The jardiniere features detailed leaves around its rim and raised handles on both sides. The pedestal also has an interesting pattern around the top. This quilted jardiniere and pedestal set can be worth up to $400 or more!

15. McCoy Blossomtime Planter w/ Blue Flowers

The Blossom Time is the most sought-after McCoy pattern, which generally features pastel pink flowers and light or dark green leaves.

But some rare Blossom Time pieces may also come with unique midnight blue flowers and light sea-foram green leaves with special brown decoration. One such rare McCoy Blossomtime planter fetched $300 at Koehler Auctions.

16. 1960s McCoy Coalby Cat Jar

This McCoy pottery jar is shaped like the black Coalby cat. It features a total matte black paint all over the jar, including the cat’s head. The inside of the cat’s mouth is orange, while the eyes are grayish green.

This McCoy jar is a limited edition, and so it easily sells for $400 to $500, as it did recently on eBay!

17. Leaping Antelope Centerpiece Planter 

This unique McCoy planter features a beautiful ‘leaping antelope’ in a light brown glaze surrounded by four small hollow sections for planting. This decorative pottery piece was made in 1955 and was sold for about $350 on Etsy!

Is All McCoy Pottery Marked?

Not necessarily! Remember that McCoy didn’t start marking its clay pottery pieces prominently until 1938. So, some pre-1930s pieces, like the 1910s Green Mermaid Jardiniere you saw above, may not be marked ‘McCoy’ but are still rare and valuable.

Since 1938, McCoy Pottery has used different marks such as “NM,” “NM USA,” NMCo.,” “McCoy,” “McCoy USA,” etc.

Also, keep in mind that some reproduction pieces may also bear McCoy pottery marks. But you can spot them by comparing their sizes, shapes, and colors to the original pieces.

McCoy is the first and most favorite brand for any antique pottery collector. From vases and ashtrays to huge jardinieres, the company made many functional and decorative pieces; this list sums up the rarest ones for you.

As you saw above, McCoy’s cookie jars are quite in demand among collectors. So, if you want to learn more about those jars, their features, and markings, join me on my new blog!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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