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The History of the Oyster Plate

I have recently fallen madly in love with oyster plates.  I have seen them in my many buying excursions, but not until recently did one catch my eye.  

I was shopping at Scott's Antique Market when these beauties were on display.  There were only two of them and I knew immediately I had to have them.  Pricey and delicate ... they quickly won over my heart.

They are on display in the dining room cabinet along with my growing collection of monogrammed Bavarian china and they fit in perfectly.  I just love their touch of pink and gold and their delicacy.  They are truly old and I treasure them so. 

I have since spotted a few oyster plates that have caught my eye and I began to wonder about the history of the oyster plate.  Doing a little research I was able to gain quite a bit of knowledge. 

The oyster plate was first used in the Victorian Era (1810-1870) when the oyster on the half shell first became a delicacy.  The plates were quite intricate, very light weight and beautifully decorated.  It was not uncommon for hostesses to outdo themselves with gorgeous plates filled with the half shell oysters.  The oyster plate production slowed down quite a bit after WWI when the Victorian lifestyle and serving oysters became some what of a thing of the past.  

Plates come in three different styles ~

five molds instead of six and the molds slightly resemble the shape of a turkey.


classic six molds making a circle with a small well in the center for sauce.

and KIDNEY SHAPED which is self explanatory.

The plates were made to serve the oysters without their shells.  The shells are heavy and will scratch and damage the delicate plates.  The oldest and best plates to collect will be in pristine condition without hairline cracks.  If you find old plates with cracks and chips you should not be expected to pay top dollar for them and good plates have been known to sell for about $300 each. 

When I was doing my research I came across "The Oyster Plate Lady" at the Kilmarnock Antique Gallery in Virginia who owns the largest oyster plate business inside this 22,000 square foot antique store.  You can see some of the collection online, but the store has the complete collection and boasts 60+ years in the oyster plate selling business.  

Can you say #roadtrip?  I may need to invite myself on the Hubs next trip to DC just to pop down and check out this little gem for myself!

For now my collection is perfect ... two pink, white and gold very old oyster plates happy in their home in my china cabinet.  But ... you never know, I may find more just like them or stumble onto a set of gold and white Havilands that need to be adopted!



  1. Love those plates too. My friend's mama had some majolica ones I covet. My great aunt lived in Kilmarnock and though it is charming and worthy of a visit, it's not just a hop skip and jump from DC. Go for a weekend!

  2. I love your new oyster plates...they are drop dead gorgeous!

  3. I first became aware of majolica oyster plates when reading Savannah Blues by Atlantan Mary Kay Andrews. She wrote about them, which piqued my interest. I'd love to visit the shop in Virginia too! Drive through South Carolina and pick me up?



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