Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For the Newby: The Fake Versus the Real McCoy-- Uh, Hull I Mean

I just happen to be a very good position to illustrate the non-fraudulent fake which can give the newby pottery buyers some ideas about what to look out for when browsing.

Fakes come in various types. There is the unauthorized reproduction of a genuine item, which is the one most often met with at on-line auction sites. These are usually pieces where the original is high value and desirable. They are produced in quantity with an intent to deceive. They usually have an approximation of the mark although it may not be the mark of the pottery where they were originally produced. The fraud may come in when the seller states or even implies that it is an original knowing that it is not.

The second class is the fantasy piece. This is pottery that was never made by the company whose mark is on it. There is a rather notorious piece in certain circles that has two nude women as handles. It's vaguely art nouveau although I have seen no vintage original. It has the script "Weller" mark on the bottom which should be a dead give away because this mark came into use in the twenties after the Art Nouveau period. The second give away is that it is dead ugly and garish. It's very sad to see this item sell over and over, sometimes for quite high prices. This was also made to deceive. Beware the seller who has private auctions and repeatedly sells the same "rare" item.

The third type though is the type I wish to discuss here. That is the piece that was not intended to be sold as a product of the pottery that made the original. It was made by a student as a homage or lesson in pottery techniques. It probably set around for a couple of decades then somehow found it's way into a thrift store or an estate and then-- She's off! The pot passes from hand to hand, some ignorant of it's actual source, some not, acquiring a provenance-- albeit a shaky one-- as it goes.

The first picture above is a piece made by a hobbiest. I bought it from eBay from a seller who described it completely and fairly. The second picture is of a similar piece of Hull pottery from the Granada Mardi Gras line that I bought from a local consignment shop. It is probably fair to mention that the person I bought it from thought it was McCoy. The designs are similar but not the same. If both pieces are side by side it is easy to tell which is the professionally made piece. The first thing to look is the glaze. The Hull fan vase is an attractive matte white glaze although it may look yellow in the photographs. The hobby piece has a white gloss glaze with a number of glaze skips.

Then a good idea is to flip it over and look at the bottom. The bottom of a vase may be distinctive guide to the manufacturer. The Hull vase has a dry (unglazed) ring around the outside of the base with an incised U.S.A. and below that the numbers 47-9". The vase is 9 inches tall. The hobby vase has a totally glaze covered bottom with three stilt marks. On the bottom there is very lightly incised the word "Pearl" and "57". This vase is about a half inch shorter. There are a lot of other differences. The Hull piece is heavier-- 2 lbs. and 7 ozs. The other vase weighs 1 lb. and 4 ozs. The Hull vase is made of a buff clay. The other vase has been cast of white slip. The best way to learn pottery is to look at known pieces and many pieces demand to be touched and held.

Edited to add that I found an example of the fake vase illustrated above on another site that has information about fake and reproduction pottery. This is a fraudulent fake because it has the name McCoy on the bottom. However the glaze is turquoise rather than white. This strongly suggests that the mould was a hobby project. Check


Jon Stein said...

For more on reproduction McCoy see this site McCoy Reproductions

tweetie13 said...

My mother passed away at 92 years of age last year and had a white matte finished vase identical to the one identified here. The base was marked U.S.A 47-9", and attached to the outer wall of the vase is a silver trimmed black sticker showing a potter at his/her wheel shaping a tall vase. The label is marked GRANADA POTTERY in silver.

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