Since I have a small collection of McDade pottery of my own and about a year ago learned that at least two of the pieces are actually desirable to collectors, I've been paying attention to the items that pass through EBAY. I actually bought one of my nicer jugs through EBAY a couple of years back. Mostly I see the 2-gallon crocks come up for bid, but occasionally you see something a little different.
This past week a piece of the later pottery, circa 1940s-1950s, came on the EBAY market. It was a small planter in the shape of a swan, glazed in yellow. This period of McDade pottery reminds me a little of McCoy pottery and was not something I had heretofore considered to be valuable. I considered placing a bid, but it rapidly passed my budget in just a couple of bids and so I contented myself with watching the bidding war.
Matthew Dunkin, the founder of the original McDade pottery business, was the brother of my great-great-great grandmother, something I've mentioned here before. The early pottery was functional and generally of earth-tones. The second generation pottery was quite often glazed in a hideous brown. By the time this little swan was produced, the business had drifted into a combination of the functional items like crocks and the commercial type items like ashtrays, banks and planters. Many of these decorative items were embossed with the names of local businesses and given away as business promotions.
Over the course of a week, I began to blink when I checked on the progress of the auction. When it hit $300, I was amused. When it hit $600, I was shocked. The little piece finally sold for a whopping $811. I'm betting it originally sold for less than a $1.
Matthew may still be spinning in his grave. And I'm pushing my pieces into more protected spots.