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History – JW McCoy & Brush-McCoy Potteries

The History of the JW McCoy & Brush-McCoy Potteries

J. W. McCoy Pottery in 1899 J. W. McCoy Pottery in 1899[/caption]

In 1848, J.W. McCoy was born and raised in Putnam, which is now part of Zanesville, Ohio. He was married in 1870, and the next year he and Sarah (Sade) Elizabeth Brown his wife, moved to Uniontown in Newton Township, Muskingum County. There J.W. operated a dry good store.

In 1871, the McCoy’s moved to the community of Roseville, Ohio. There he entered into about a five-¬year partnership with his father-in-law, James E. Brown in a general merchandise business, which was called “Brown & McCoy”.

Then in 1876, J.W. opened a General Merchandise store on his own. In 1886, he entered into a partnership and established the “Williams and McCoy Pottery Co.”. After about four years of operation a new partner was taken in and the pottery was renamed the “Kildow, Williams and McCoy Pottery Co.”. According to, “The Business Review of Muskingum County”, “This plant was one of the most extensive in the valley and produced all kinds of common stoneware and a variety of culinary utensils.”

Then in 1890, after about two more years of operation, the KW&M pottery was renamed again, and was called the Midland Pottery Co. By 1892, J.W. was not only involved in pottery manufacturing, and retail pottery sales, but he had become a pottery jobber, selling bulk wares to wholesale dealers.

After about two years of operation, the KW&M pottery was renamed again, and was then called the “Midland Pottery Co.”. By 1892, J.W. was not only involved in pottery manufacturing, and retail pottery sales, but he had become a pottery jobber, selling bulk wares to wholesale dealers.

In 1898, following about six years of operation under the name the Midland Pottery Co., the pottery was sold to the “Roseville Pottery Co.”. This ended the partnerships J.W. had in the pottery business. Since very few pieces from these early potteries that J.W. was affiliated with have been found, it is most likely that most of them were unmarked.

As discussed in, “The History of the W. Nelson McCoy’s Blue Bird Pottery”, (seen elsewhere on this Web site), Wilber F., the cousin of J.W., was a partner in the “Zanesville Hardware Company”. The date that Wilber’s part-ownership in the store was established remains uncertain, but it was probably between 1870 and 1875.

In 1899, J.W. along with several investors, formed a pottery solely under his name, the J.W. McCoy Pottery Co. He must have devoted much of his time to his new pottery, for in 1901, he turned the management of his general store over to his son Arthur.

For several years, the “J.W. McCoy Pottery Co.” concentrated on the production of the simpler, utilitarian stoneware pieces. However, around late 1902 the pottery branched out and began to include the production of art pottery. The art pottery production consisted of elaborately designed, decorative items such as jardinières and pedestals, various other flower containers, umbrella stands, and sand jars. The production of these attractively glazed pieces proved to be a very successful undertaking.

In 1909, George Brush joined the “J.W. McCoy Pottery Co.”. Prior to that time he had established a pottery under his own name. However, the pottery only operated about one year before a fire destroyed the entire plant. The “Brush Pottery” was not rebuilt, but he retained the remaining assets of the Brush Pottery. Later in the year after his pottery burned, George Brush became the Manager of the “Globe Stoneware Company”, and the “Crooksville Clay Products Company”.

After joining the “J.W. McCoy Pottery”, within two years George Brush had become the General Manager of the pottery. In October of that year, the directors of the McCoy pottery decided to expand the pottery by the purchase of the “Globe Stoneware Co.” (1901-1911).

During August of 1911, George Brush, acting on behalf of the Brush Pottery interests, purchased the old “J.B. Owens Pottery”, Plant Number One in Zanesville (1883-1909), along with the equipment and molds. Late in 1911, the officers of the “J.W. McCoy Pottery”, at the suggestion of George Brush, agreed to combine the assets of the company with those of the “Brush Pottery”. Consequently, George Brush obtained the controlling interest in the “J.W. McCoy pottery”, and the name of the pottery was changed to the “Brush – McCoy Pottery”.

In 1912, the “Brush-McCoy Pottery” purchased the equipment and molds from the “A. Radford Pottery”, which was located in Clarksville, West Virginia.

In 1918, the McCoy family sold their interest in the Brush – McCoy Pottery; however, it was not until late 1925 that the directors of the pottery dropped the McCoy name. The new name of the pottery was the Brush Pottery Co., and it operated under that name until it closed in 1982.



Lines – Brush-McCoy Pottery

By Dewayne Imsand

The Brush-McCoy Pottery Co. was in existence for only 14 years. It was the successor to the J.W. McCoy Pottery, and was formed on December 13, 1911. On December 9, 1925, it became the Brush Pottery Co.

View the Brush-McCoy Pottery Lines – PDF

Presented here are the line names, and a description of the initial pieces in those lines that the pottery produced during its lifetime. The dates given are in chronological order, and indicate the initial year the line was produced. The dates are based on the available pottery catalogs. Catalogs were not available for all years, therefore, some dates are approximated, and these dates are based on the best available information.

Also included here is a picture of a piece as an example of each line. The pictures are computer enhanced pictures taken from the catalogs. The examples given serve as an aid in identifying the name of the line, and the glaze colors that a particular piece of pottery is associated.
The pieces described are only the pieces which are associated with the various lines of pottery. The production of some lines continued for many years, while other lines lasted only for a short time, some less than a year. In some cases, after the initial year of production, additional pieces may have been added to various lines. Therefore, the date given may not be the date of issue of all pieces in the line.

There are 66 different lines presented here that contain many different pieces. However, in addition to these pieces, the pottery produced a very large number of other, individual pieces that are not associated with a particular line.

It should be noted that the design, or shape, of a particular piece does not always indicate the line to which the piece belongs. At times, the pottery re-issued various pieces with a particular design, or shape, as an individual pieces. Also at times, the re-issued piece was included in a different line. These re-issued pieces normally have a different glaze color, or decoration, from the original. In such cases where a piece is included in a line different from the original line, it is the glaze color, or decoration, that determines the line to which the piece belongs.

It is hoped that you find the information and pictures presented here informative, and that they serve as an aid in identifying those unfamiliar Brush-McCoy pieces.

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  The Brush Pottery Company was founded in Zanesville, Ohio in 1906 by a man named George Brush, and its early history is closely tied to a better-known pottery, McCoy. The first Brush Pottery lasted only a few years until it burned down and George Brush went to work for the J. W. McCoy Pottery Co. In 1911, the two companies merged and became the Brush-McCoy pottery, and soon after, J.W.'s son Nelson McCoy founded his own pottery as well. After J.W.'s death, Nelson McCoy continued to be involved in the Brush-McCoy pottery until he resigned in 1918. In 1925, the “McCoy” name was dropped and the pottery became known as Brush Pottery. Production continued through the middle of 1982.
   Since the Brush and McCoy potteries shared the same heritage, Brush pottery has a similar look and feel to McCoy, a pottery made popular in the last few years by exposure in Martha Stewart's magazine and books. Although for most of its existence it was known as the Brush Pottery, “Brush McCoy” is understood by collectors to encompass all of the pottery made by this company.
  The first way to become familiar with Brush pottery is to look through books and begin to recognize shapes and glazes that were popular. There is a good text description of some of Brush's earlier lines at the McCoy Pottery website. Some of the later Brush pieces are shown in Figure 1. Some excellent references are The Collectors Guide to Brush-McCoy, Vol I and Vol II, by Martha and Steve Sanford, and The Collecter's Encyclopedia of Brush-McCoy Pottery, by Sharon and Bob Huxford. Some of the Brush pieces are marked, either with a script “Brush” as shown in Figure 2 or with just a mold number and USA, but many of their works were either unmarked or identified with a paper label which has vanished over time.
   Much of the pottery made in the USA throughout the middle and later 1900's has a distinctive look and feel. Brush pottery is heavy. Of course, “heavy” is a relative term so you may have to scout out other types of pottery at antique malls and flea markets and compare their look and feel with items that are known to be Brush-McCoy. A scale from light to heavy is included as Figure 3; porcelain and many of the “made in Japan” planters (such as Napco) are easy to find and provide an example that is lighter than Brush-McCoy. Shawnee, although heavier than most of the Japanese pottery, is typically somewhat lighter than Brush pottery. Stoneware, on the heaviest end of the scale, is heavier than most of the later Brush-McCoy planters and vases, although Brush did make stoneware early on. If you are already familiar with McCoy pottery, then the feel of Brush pottery will be very similar.
   Brush planters and vases often rest on two unglazed feet, as shown in the Figure 4. There are several shades of green that were very popular (an avocado-like shade was one of them), along with ivory, white, pink and black, but the pottery can also be found in other colors.
   I have seen people get Brush pottery confused with “brushed ware”. Brushed ware is a line of Red Wing pottery that had stain applied to the outside and then brushed off, and is not related to Brush Pottery.
Figural Planters
My personal Brush collection got started by my obsession with animal planters and figurines, and Brush-McCoy is certainly well-represented in this category! The best way to identify Brush animals is, of course, to study the books referenced above but after looking at enough of them there are a few things that stand out. Observations appear below.
  As with the rest of the Brush-McCoy pottery, the figural and animal planters are relatively heavy. Many of them have fairly detailed molds and are glazed all in one color. Cold paint may still be present on the planter if it hasn't been worn or washed off through the years. Some of the Brush animals, such as the series of garden dishes, are airbrushed in multiple colors.
   Several of the Brush animal planters appear in a flesh-colored glaze as shown (as well as you can show color on a computer monitor, anyway) in Figure 5. The pottery underneath is typically textured like fur or feathers, and the light and heavy glazed areas create a nice effect; once you've seen several of the pieces in real life (by browsing antique stores, of course!) it will be almost unmistakable, as I've not really seen any other pottery use that color. Shawnee has a glaze that is similar, but it has slightly more pink in it, and the figurine is usually smooth underneath, rather than textured.
   Several of the Brush animals (see Figure 6) can still be had on the cheap, at least in the places we frequent (north Texas and south & central Wisconsin), because many of them were not marked. Especially easy to find are the ducks, Ferdinand the Bull, and the sitting cats.

Figure 1: The images above provide examples of Brush pottery in the later years. Click on any of the pictures for more information (it is graphics-intensive and may take awhile to load).

Figure 2: Some vases and planters bear the script Brush mark.


Fig. 3: Relative Weights of American Pottery


Bone China
Made in Japan
Hull, Red Wing
McCoy, Brush, American Bisque



Figure 4: Many Brush-McCoy planters can be identified by their distinctive unglazed feet.

Figure 5: Animal planters in the Brush flesh-colored glaze

Figure 6: Animal planters such as Ferdinand the Bull and the ducks are unmarked, and are still relatively easy to find. There is an almost identical bull that was made in Japan, but it is much lighter and is stamped “Japan.”


More Brush-McCoy animal planters
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Brush-McCoy vs. Brush McCoy: Cookie Jars

Brush-McCoy Pottery Co. expired over 75 years ago but the name is very much alive today. Despite never producing a single cookie jar while it existed, an ever growing number of new jars are marked Brush McCoy.

To understand the difference between Brush-McCoy and Brush McCoy, we need to go back to the first-quarter of the century.

The original pottery, Brush-McCoy Pottery, operated between about 1911 to 1925. It was formed by combining the companies of Nelson McCoy and George Brush. McCoy sold his interest around 1918 leaving Brush in control. The company name remained unchanged until 1925 when it became Brush Pottery reflecting Brush's sole ownership.

Brush Pottery is credited with being among the first American potteries to produce cookie jars. It introduced its first in 1929. From simple early shapes, Brush and other potters gradually introduced more elaborate figural cookie jars in the mid-1940s. Cookie jars continued to be an important part of the company's production until it closed in 1982.

Brush-McCoy Pottery, remember, went out of existence in 1925. It was Brush Pottery in operation 1925-1982, that made the cookie jars, not Brush-McCoy.

Original Brush Pottery cookie jars are among some of the hobby's most expensive. Its Hillbilly Frog, for example, produced in 1968, is valued at over $4000. Many other Brush Pottery jars range from $400 to $800.

Maybe that's why some manufacturer came up with the idea of marking reproduction cookie jars Brush McCoy. Although no similar mark ever existed, it began to be used on new jars around the mid-1990s. New marks also include include a paintbrush positioned between the words Brush and McCoy. All of the new marks are in raised molded lettering under glaze on the bases.

At first, the marks only appeared on reproductions of jars made by the original Brush Pottery. Now the mark appears on jars by other vintage makers. The reproduction jar in Fig. 4, for example, was made by Shawnee Pottery and is known as Mugsy. It is marked Brush McCoy as shown in Fig. 5. Finding Brush McCoy marks on jars known to originate from other potteries is an obvious clue that you're looking at a fake.

Some elements of the new mark are somewhat similar to original Brush Pottery marks. Perhaps the most confusing is the appearance of the letter W followed by a number. In original Brush Pottery cookie jars, the W indicated jars designed by Ross and Don Winton of Twin Winton Ceramics. The number corresponded to specific designs. The original elephant with ice cream cone, for example, has a W-8 molded in the base. The new Brush McCoy elephant is also marked with a W-8.

Not all original Brush Pottery cookie jars are marked. If marked, many marks may only include a number or USA and a number. As a general rule, all authentic Brush Pottery marks found on cookie jars are incised or impressed below the surface. So far, all the new Brush McCoy pottery marks have been in raised molded letters.

Two typical impressed Brush Pottery marks are shown in Figs. 6 and 7. The paintbrush in the new marks may come from the use of an artists palette in some genuinely old marks like the one in Fig. 6. But no original Brush Pottery mark used a large paint brush as found in the new mark.

Although Brush McCoy was never used on vintage cookie jars, it causes collectors many problems. Ellen Supnick, one of the country's leading writers and dealers in cookie jars has been seeing the problem for a number of years.

"The Brush Mc Coy mark started turning up about in the early 1990s when lots of repros started hitting the market," said Supnick. "I tell people Brush McCoy never made cookie jars but they believe what they want."

Most of the reproduction jars with the Brush McCoy mark also show heavy pronounced crazing. Collectors often mistake the crazing as a sign of age which it is not. The crazing is added to new jars at the time of manufacture.

Ellen and Mark Supnick are the authors of The Wonderful World of Cookie Jars and several books on Shawnee Pottery collectibles.


Fig. 1 New Brush McCoy mark with paintbrush and W-8, above, appears on the reproduction cookie jar below.


Fig. 2 The original jar, known as Elephant with Ice Cream Cone was originally made by Brush Pottery in the early 1950s. All raised molded Brush McCoy marks are recent.


Fig. 3 Close up view of raised molded Brush McCoy mark in reproduction cookie jars. No mark like this ever appeared before the late 1990s. It is only found on reproductions.


Fig. 4 This is a reproduction Mugsy cookie jar. The original was made by Shawnee Pottery. This reproduction is marked Brush McCoy in raised molded lettering as shown in Fig. 5.


Fig. 5 The mark on the bottom of the Mugsy cookie jar in Fig. 4. The new Brush McCoy marks appear on reproductions of many potteries, not just original McCoy or Brush Pottery.


Fig. 6


Fig. 7
Two typical marks of Brush Pottery that appear on vintage cookie jars, ca. 1940s-1982. The closest original Brush Pottery mark to include a paintbrush was the palette mark, Fig. 6. The W in Brush Pottery marks indicates the pieces designed by Twin Winton Ceramics as in Fig. 7. Most original marks were impressed or incised, not raised. So far, all the new Brush McCoy marks are raised molded marks.


Fig. 8 This new raised molded Brush McCoy mark is found on the bottom of a reproduction Cow Jumped Over the Moon Cookie jar. The original jar of this name was made by the Robinson Ramsbotton Pottery Co.


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