One of my favorite weekend activities is going to garage sales. My family has always braked for yard sales, for as long as I can remember. I went through periods of buying my “alternative” clothes from them, then for a little while I shunned them altogether, then I became interested in practical things for my own house and then for the kids. Now in addition to whatever I might actually be looking for, I’m always on the prowl for some mid-century American pottery. I randomly started collecting McCoy vases, and now I collect Hull brown drip pottery and pretty much anything else that strikes my fancy.
I’ve started collecting enough pieces that I wanted some type of furniture to display them in, and also have them safe from baby Marc’s destructive little hands. After lots of looking, last summer Marc bought me this behemoth corner shelf:
I don’t have any nice display going on yet, and there’s so much random stuff strewn in there (see the shells at the very top?). I do think it looks great, and is a really nice addition to the super-plain-so-far living room. I keep collecting pieces at estate sales and antique shops and along with them I have fun stories to tell, but I felt like it would be random and weird if I just blurted them out here apropos of nothing. So here’s a little intro
This aqua colored vase was the first one I ever picked up, I bought it at a yard sale years ago for $1. I used it in our old house in my “brown and blue” themed living room. It is still one of my favorites, mostly for the pretty color. I don’t even know if it’s an actual McCoy vase (as there are so many different makers of mid-century [meaning 1950's-ish] American pottery and not all of it is marked) but I think it’s so pretty. Actually, for anyone who is curious this is the marking on the bottom it just says “USA” which could be a McCoy or not, in my limited experience:
Then one day at an antique shop down at the shore, I found a bunch of McCoy vases and loved them. I loved the variety of shapes and the shiny, colorful glazes. What I wasn’t a fan of were the prices. Many of them were $50-ish, when I didn’t want to spend that much. I know that for something you really love it’s not a crazy price to pay, but still it wasn’t the thrill of finding one for $1 at a yard sale. So the next one I bought was at the McCoy-filled store that I couldn’t pass up:
This one was on sale because it has some chips on the handles, I think I paid somewhere around $25 for it, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyhow, it’s still one of my favorites. I see these sell on Etsy and eBay for about $50-75 in tons of colors, blue, pink, etc. I’d love to get more of this shape.
This one is definitely a McCoy:
I’ve been collecting a bunch since then, some “regular price” of about $40 at an antique store, and some for cheap from yard sales.
The pink handled one at the top of this post was one I bought for full price.
For some reason I find so many more pottery pieces at yard sales when we’re at the beach vs. when we’re here at home. I have no clue why that is!
One of my other favorites (because I really love the shape) is this one:
There is this “professional yard-saler” down by the beach that has a garage and driveway packed to the gills with stuff. I found this one on the table right away and loved it, and the girl told me it was $1! Of course, I was excited, but then I noticed her prices on other things started getting higher and higher. Luckily this was all I wanted
It is not a McCoy, it’s a Gilner piece; Gilner was a company that made art pottery from 1934-1957:
It’s just something fun to collect and learn about along the way. McCoy pottery is pretty popular to collect, but not so much so (like Fiesta or pink Pyrex) that the prices are super high. Plus there’s a lot of other potteries so if you’re not that picky (like me) you can quickly build a nice little collection.
Next time I’ll bring up my Hull collection, that is the stuff that we use more often (mugs, platters, etc.) some of which you can see there on the bottom shelf of my cabinet.