Among antique plates or dishes prized by collectors are oyster plates. An oyster plate is easily recognizable because it is divided into oyster-shaped compartments. If you want to be totally ‘hip’, serve oysters on a wonderful antique or vintage oyster plate.
The plates are made to serve the oyster without the shell as the shell would scratch the plate – so the plate has simulated ‘shells’ in its design. There is sometimes a center well in the plate for sauce. If your shells are smooth or depending on the finish of the plate, you can serve the shells on the plate as well.
Collectors love that they have been produced in such a wide variety of styles and colors including vivid color combinations with gold leafing.
Oyster plates are made of diverse materials. Many are ceramic; others are glass, and some oyster plates rest on an attractive metal frame that elevates the dish. Oyster plates come in a variety of sizes from Germany, France, Austria, and elsewhere. For a large party, they can be purchased in sets.
The oyster plates we have in our homes pay fitting tribute to the oyster. We don’t know about you but the oyster is one of our favorite foods. Some people enjoy oysters raw or fry them, and cook them in different ways. Before recorded history, people discovered that oysters were good to eat. Ancient people left behind great piles of oyster shells, which tells us something about our ancestors. Most true pearls come from oysters, and we associate the oyster with the beautiful pearl.
Oyster plates often have a motif related to the sea and often they are exquisitely hand painted. Sometimes the motif is inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, for the Romans had many oyster farms to keep the empire supplied with the delicacy. The various motifs on oyster plates reflect the age-old practice of eating oysters.
Changes in the style of oyster plates have continued right into the modern era, yet this unique type of plate is quite recognizable. Manufacturers of oyster plates include Haviland & Co., Limoges, and Dresden Richard Klemm. Check for manufacturers’ markings on the plates when you are building your collection. They are a fantastic thing to collect!
Ruby Lane has a huge selection of beautiful oyster plates. Now is a great time to purchase one and resolve in the new year to USE IT! Your guests will love it. PS…January 10th is National Oysters Rockefeller Day!
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