The Infinite, Confusing, Impossible, Beautiful World of Mid-Century Modern Pottery
PART I – McCoy’s SCANDIA line – Step Children of MCM Pottery
Modern Mid-Century Pottery is such an overwhelming subject it’s hard to know where to start. I have a decent size collection of MCM pottery because I kept running into such amazing examples over the years, but trying to research it and get information can be quite difficult. In fact I avoided even trying for quite awhile because it was so overwhelming. But, the point of his post is to help make it less confusing and to start compiling on all of my research in one place both for myself and to share. To make this easy on myself I will start with one of the few blessedly simple, easy lines of pottery to detail, manufactured by two well known American companies for the mass market.
McCoy and Haeger – Red Headed Step-Children of Modernist Pottery
McCoy was an American pottery maker, 1933-1974, that produced a huge number of ceramic vases, planters, cookie jars and figures.
The pieces are usually marked “McCoy” on the bottom with some numbers. Most of the ceramics produced by McCoy do not come close to any kind of modernist look. They are generally kitchy or cute little figures, themes of flowers, corn, puppies, and just general mid-century cute housewife knick knacks. McCoy had big contracts with a lot of the florist industry to produce planters and vases they could use in their business, some lines they did were exclusively sold to the florist trade while others were marketed in stores to the public. In many ways McCoy was similar to the Haeger Company which produced similar pieces for the public and florist trade, though Haeger also created more high-end art pottery designs. Both companies have their share of avid collectors and I have secretly hoped that the relations between the Haeger and McCoy collectors is akin to the Bloods and Crypts.
McCoy did little in the way of MCM pottery, with one major exception – their Scandia line. The Scandia line of pottery was McCoy’s attempt to establish their ceramic wares with a new generation who didn’t care for the kitchy cute ceramics their mothers bought. I have two citations for who possibly designed the scandia line and I will update this post with the name when I have confirmation.
The Scandia line began in 1972 and came in several colors: avocado green, bisque, brow/tan, white, and red. Occasionally you will stumble upon pieces people have taken upon themselves to paint in other colors. The line and its name was inspired by the then popular Danish Modern and Scandinavian designs of the era. Sometime people will mix in pieces of McCoy’s “Floraline” line.
Some pieces from the Floraline series match up with well with Scandia, and these are the pieces people tend to either mistakenly or purposely label as Scandia. The fact Scandia and Floraline also came in the exact same color options makes them even easier to confuse. Sometimes I think online vendors purposely mislabel Floraline pieces because scandia pieces fetch higher prices.
The scandia line actually works quite well in MCM decor and its perfect to use for your houseplants. I grow orchids and they are perfect to use for my small orchid and succulents that I grow – though I suggest keeping the plants in a container with drainage holes and merely sitting them inside of the ceramic planter. Another great thing about the Scandia line is the small pieces can be stacked to form larger pieces. You can see how I’ve stacked some in this photo on
the right, which contains pieces from top to bottom #30,31,32.
The smallest planter is #30 and it has stacking components all the way to #36. #37 is the large individual vase you see in tan in the first photo. I have all of the planters except #34, so once I have that much like a transformer toy I can create some sort of monster Scandia piece to rule the world.
The prices of Scandia pieces vary widely, especially online. 80 percent of my pieces I have found at flea markets and antique mall booths for a few dollars. I have bought two planters online but didn’t pay more than $35 for either. However, I regularly see stores online that specialize in MCM or mod designs asking and sometimes getting $70 to $150 for various pieces. The Scandia line wasn’t a raging success at the time of its production, being such a departure from McCoy’s usual designs. For years it was a bit of a ugly step-child of McCoy collectors but slowly built fans among MCM fans, but they certainly bring together to very different camps of people.
Below is a photo from the McCoy 1973 catalog showcasing most of the styles and colors of the Scandia line. All the styles are present below but a few additional sizes in some of the styles are available. I have a few additional McCoy catalog and ads featuring Scandia pieces that I will post later.