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posted: 8/18/2012 4:40 AM

Values for 'Mammy' cookie jar have dropped

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  • In its day, this cookie jar held yummy treats. But much of the paint is worn off now, and might not even sell if offered.

      In its day, this cookie jar held yummy treats. But much of the paint is worn off now, and might not even sell if offered.

 
By Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson

Q. Could you tell me the value of these items shown in the enclosed photographs?

A. The letter in today's question came with pictures of around 25 different items, but because of space limitations, we are going to limit our reply to only one of the objects shown.

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Most of the other items would be valued at less than $25 each, with the exception of the circa 1910 oak center table with medial shelf (in the range of $175 to $250 at retail) and the lustered glass lamp with the gilt leaves, which is from the late third quarter of the 20th century (retail price would be around $125 to $150).

Instead, we are going to focus on the "Mammy" cookie jar made by the Nelson McCoy Pottery Co. of Roseville, Ohio.

Cookie-jar prices went through the roof after artist Andy Warhol's collection was sold by Sotheby's in 1988. For a time after that, there was a cookie-jar craze that amounted to a mania. Prices and interest went up and up, but then came a crash from which cookie jars have never recovered.

Nelson McCoy Pottery started life as the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Co. in 1910. It became just Nelson McCoy Pottery in 1933. The company reportedly started making figural cookie jars circa 1940, but introduced its "Mammy with Cauliflowers" in 1939. Other Mammy cookie jars followed.

McCoy also made examples in the shape of a chicken, a dog in a house, a leprechaun, comedian W.C. Fields, a Christmas tree, a kangaroo (with a "joey" peeking out of the pouch), a clown in a barrel, and a rocking horse. In addition, there were elephants, penguins, owls, bananas, stoves, birdhouses, windmills, apples, a spacecraft, a tea kettle, and on and on.

McCoy Mammy cookie jars can be found in several different varieties. There are the ones that have a painted yellow dress, others with a white dress with a "checkerboard" apron (our favorite), and one that appears in photographs to be a solid light blue.

The example belonging in today's question is one with a simple white dress, brown/black painted face and hands, a red bandanna and a little paint on the buttons and the hanging sash or belt. This is typical of the McCoyMammy cookie jars found, and it is unfortunate that the paint on this one is in such poor condition.

The red paint on the bandanna is nearly gone, as is the dark coloration on the hands and face. This greatly reduces the value of this piece. Six to eight years ago, cookie jars such as this one in great condition sold in the $125-to-$150 range at auction, but that price has dropped by half to two-thirds.

Because of its condition, the jar in question might not sell if it were offered, but for insurance purposes, we suggest you value the piece in the $40-to-$50 range.

• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.

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