McCoy pottery is one of the most recognized names in American pottery. Originally called J. W. McCoy Pottery, it was established by James W. McCoy in 1899. In 1910, J.C. McCoy and his son Nelson created the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Company. Most of the products they created in the beginning were functional pieces, but later artisans focused their attention on producing umbrella stands, vases, jardinières, and pedestals, and other decorative pieces. McCoy Pottery was owned and operated by four generations of McCoys until 1967. The company was first sold to the Mount Clemens Pottery Company, then sold again in 1974 to the Lancaster Colony Corporation until they ceased operation in 1990.
McCoy design developed over the 20th century. Mont Pelee was the earliest art ware, marking the volcanic eruption in St. Pierre, Martinique, with its dull-black lava-type pottery. In 1908, James W. McCoy introduced its most popular art pottery line Loy-Nel-Art, which was a decorated, standard glaze pottery similar to Roseville Rozane and Weller Louwelsa. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Walter Bauer was the head designer, McCoy pottery pieces were primarily of the leaf and berry theme with blended brown and green glazes. The company also created similar pieces in solid green for the general public.
Pottery was marked with an impressed “McCoy” and, for its line an “Loy-Nel-Art” impression. Later pottery was not marked as often. It is important to note the separate branch called “Brush-McCoy Pottery Company” that began in 1911. With the assistance of George S. Brush, this new company brought designs from Owens to create a matte green and white Navarre line, the Venetian, Basket Weave and Green Woodland. Its Sylvan line, debuting in 1915, was the inspiration for the Weller Forest ware with its line of trees in a relief style.