What would your home look like if you spent the past 30 years scouring flea markets for everything from vintage toys to “little-old-lady” coin purses and everything in-between? Chances are, your home would look very much like Kelly Clark’s.
To say Kelly was bitten by the collecting bug would be a vast understatement. “My collecting came the old-fashioned way: through hours and hours of walking, hunting and bargaining in literally hundreds of flea markets and probably thousands of yard sales all across this country. I think I have only bought two pottery pieces off of eBay,” Kelly says. “I’ve even been known to drive from Northwest Arkansas to Amarillo, Texas, on vacation—only to drive back the next weekend to buy a $5 piece of McCoy pottery that I couldn’t get out of my mind.”
Kelly has furnished her entire home with her flea-market finds, including buttons, baskets, birdhouses and books, but her extensive collection of American pottery holds a special place in her home—and her heart. “American pottery was my first love,” she reveals. “From my 500-plus pieces, I’d say 90 percent are McCoy. The rest are Brush-McCoy, Shawnee, Haeger, Camark, Niloak, Weller, Morton, Bauer, Redwing and Robinson Ransbottom (RRPCo.).”
It’s not unusual for McCoy pottery to be listed among collectors’ favorites in the pottery category. Terry Kinsey has been an avid McCoy collector for three decades. He was eager to learn and discuss more about the subject but was disappointed at the lack of information and community. In 1997, Terry registered the domain mccoypottery.com and created a place where collectors and sellers could research, discuss and sell McCoy pieces. Today, the forum has several thousand active members, he says.
For Kelly, collecting McCoy pottery is a passion with perspective. “My family members used to joke about my being a hoarder because I collected so many things,” she says. “I knew what I was doing. I knew they were all investments, that their value would increase with time—and they have. I’ve also been enjoying myself while hunting for things that speak to my heart, things I want in my home, things that create a mood or a certain look. I’ve been literally hunting and gathering to create my home. Hoarding to me is about piles of things people can’t let go of for some reason. My things are what make my house my home. When you walk in my door, you know exactly who I am and what I am about.”
We’ll share Terry Kinsey’s top tips for collecting McCoy pottery in our next post.
by Meryl Schoenbaum
Photography by Kelly Clark