Antique Oyster Plates
Fisherman’s Inn’s antique oyster plate collection is the largest collection on the Eastern Shore with over 300 plates displayed throughout the restaurant. Betty Schulz, late owner of Fisherman’s Inn, started the collection in the 1970s. When viewing the collection you will find many fine examples including: single serving plates, platter plates, and complete sets. Also included in the collection are ones made by Minton & Quimper, one of the oldest manufacturers of oyster plates.
The oyster plate was first used in the Victorian Era (1810–1870) when the oyster on the half shell first became a delicacy. Oysters were a symbol of wealth and conspicuous consumption and needed to be properly served on their own special plates. No Victorian dinnerware service was complete without its oyster plates! Oyster plates were made in such mediums as pewter, sterling, porcelain, majolica, and glass in three different styles:
- Plates with deep wells were used for serving oysters on the half shell with ice.
- Plates with less deeply defined wells were for serving oysters on the half shell without ice.
- Plates with shallow wells were used for serving shucked oysters.
The first two styles of plates are not found in good condition very often because the shells scratched the plates. The third type of plate, designed to hold shucked oysters, are the ones that have remained in good condition. The value of an antique oyster plate can range from $25 to thousands of dollars!