McCarty's Pottery is a hot commodity in Mississippi. What is it and why is it so popular?

The McCarty's Pottery showroom in Merigold closes each year from Christmas Day through the end of January. Local fans and collectors held their breath Tuesday wondering and hoping the showroom would open as planned Wednesday.

An ice storm that swept through parts of north Mississippi threatened a possible delay, but the showroom opened as planned, according to one collector who shared the news in a Facebook group of McCarty collectors.

Some collectors in the group said they were braving the icy roads to be there for opening day, traveling from as far away as Batesville and Grenada — between 65 and 70 miles.

A McCarty's Pottery display at John White Ltd. in Hattiesburg.
A McCarty's Pottery display at John White Ltd. in Hattiesburg.

So who are the McCartys and what makes their pottery so popular?

When Merigold native Lee McCarty and his wife Pup lived in Oxford, they were introduced to author William Faulkner, who encouraged their artistic endeavors.

Lee McCarty was teaching high school science, but the McCartys also had opened a small pottery studio in their garage by the time Faulkner's daughter Jill, one of Lee's students, made the introduction.

The McCartys were invited by the wordsmith himself to harvest clay found in a ravine at Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, to use for their pottery.

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A few years later, the couple returned to Lee's hometown of Merigold, where they established McCarty's Pottery, which has become some of the most sought-after Mississippi ceramics in its nearly 70 years of business, with both its functional and decorative pieces.

Pup McCarty died in 2009. Lee McCarty died in 2015. The business is now run by their godsons, Jamie Smith and Stephen Smith.

McCarty's Pottery river mark is trademarked. Photo taken at John White Ltd. in Hattiesburg on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.
McCarty's Pottery river mark is trademarked. Photo taken at John White Ltd. in Hattiesburg on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.

Here are other fun things to know about McCarty's Pottery:

  • Lee and Pup created beautiful art pieces that were exhibited in museums and galleries around the country. Some of their work is in a permanent collection at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

  • Many of McCarty's functional pieces (dinnerware and serving pieces) bear a river mark — a long, squiggly line depicting the Mississippi River. The river mark is trademarked.

  • The three signature glazes found on McCarty pottery are cobalt, nutmeg and jade. Other glazes, which are used less frequently, include white and drifting surf. Other colors have been used in some of the earlier pieces.

  • All the pottery is hand-signed, with the signatures of Lee and Pup bringing in higher prices at auctions and estate sales, often selling for hundreds more than their original price.

  • If you can't make it to the Merigold showroom, McCarty's Pottery can be found in authorized retail stores in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Authorized dealers sell McCarty for the same price as items in the pottery showroom. In Jackson, find McCarty at Inside Out. In Hattiesburg, John White Ltd. carries the cargo.

  • Purchases made at the showroom come with a brown paper bag stamped with the McCarty signature.

  • Collectors sometimes get lucky and find pieces in thrift stores and estate sales for far less, but these opportunities are rare.

  • A seconds sale is held each spring, when shoppers have the opportunity to buy less-than-perfect pieces for less than the showroom price. Fans camp out in Merigold for a few days before the sale to be among the first in line.

Learn more about McCarty's Pottery at

Lici Beveridge is a casual collector of McCarty Pottery. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter @licibev or Facebook at

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi McCarty's Pottery popularity tied to William Faulkner