Antiques and Collectibles: If you must put all your eggs on one plate...
In the Midwest, you don’t find too many collectors of oyster plates, but more of the deviled egg plates.
In the 1870s, dinnerware manufacturers were creating special service plates with shallow wells for shucked oysters as oysters were being enjoyed around the world and offered in fashionable restaurants, hotels, railroad dining cars and aboard luxury liners, as well as at oyster bars and homes, as they were affordable and plentiful.
These plates were manufactured in a variety of designs and decorations by factories located in America, England, continental Europe and Japan. The majolica pottery oyster plates are collectors’ favorites, as majolica is a type of glazed earthenware pottery, not a brand. It usually is brightly colored and features hand-painted, realistic scenes from nature.
Majolica pottery’s origins come from Majorca, an island near Spain, but its style has been copied and reproduced in countries all around the world for hundreds of years. Common manufacturers of majolica include Minton, Wedgwood, Haviland, Limoges, Quimper and George Jones and Sons. For collectors, the most highly sought oyster plates come from France. Common plates are porcelain, glass and metal.
Oyster plates range in size from a single-welled model known as a “shooter” to the familiar six-welled model. Today, interest in oyster plates continues to grow and the market remains active.
Important factors in evaluating these plates are maker, material, rarity and condition. Print guides include “Oyster Plates,” by Vivian and Jim Karsnitz, and “Collecting Oyster Plates,” by Jeffrey B. Snyder.
Prices on vintage oyster plates can range up into the thousands of dollars, depending on rarity and condition. Do keep in mind dinner-size plates of porcelain, earthenware, glass or silver, shaped with five or six oval indentations, often are mistaken for deviled egg plates. But oyster plates have more shallow wells.
Deviled egg plates
The plate that says summer is the deviled egg plate, which you’ll find at Memorial Day and Fourth of July picnics and parties or any other special occasion. You can find plates made of modern glass and plastic, but vintage plates are preferred.
What makes them such a collectible is they’re useful as well as nostalgic. As Brenda Jannsen, of Winona, said, “There was a time when I’d use a platter at home for deviled eggs. But I got tired of the slippery eggs sliding around and making a mess! So, when I saw a large deviled egg dish at an auction several years ago, I snatched it up for a dollar. It is yellow glass in the shape of a sunflower. I love it!”
Other readers, including Marie Hilliard, of Newborn, Ga., shared their stories. “Unfortunately, my egg plate got broke this Easter family gathering. It belonged to my grandmother. Heavy ruffled edges, clear glass, beautiful.”
Karen Granlund Barbera, of Sparks, Nev.: “I have a few egg plates, a couple I inherited and a few that I purchased. Considering I did have 14 dozen eggs at Easter, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a few more plates.”
If you have the desire to find a deviled egg plate, don’t just run to your favorite kitchen store, but why not look for something vintage? You can go to www.replacement.com for a possible deviled egg plate as your centerpiece, but consider antique shops and malls.
Where to find them
Alan Nugent, owner of Stockholm Pie and General Store, Stockholm, Wis.: “We have a nice collection of egg plates at the general (store), and they have been very popular.”
New in the shop at Churn Dash Antiques, Rochester, as of June 20 are unique egg plates with scalloped edges, some priced at $9. Check these out on www.facebook.com/ChurnDashAntiques.
Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony: “We don’t have any oyster plates right now at the mall, but we have a number of deviled egg plates. We have both glass and ceramic plates available. Prices range from around $10 up to $28.”
Some unique deviled egg plates are the Red Wing Pottery “S” shaped plates, similar to those found with Gregory and Deb Schreck, of Lakeside Antiques, Lake City.
“We have some cool ‘S’-shaped Red Wing deviled egg plates such as the Pink Spice selling for $95 and the other Capistrano selling for $56,” Deb said. “Price always depends on condition.”