The french have been eating raw oysters since the middle ages. It was around the middle of the 19th century though that ceramic plates made specifically for the consumption of oysters started appearing in France. They are easily recognizable with their 6 compartments around for oysters in the shell and in the center, a place for condiments such as vinegar or lemon wedges.
Until the 1930's, oyster plates were used in restaurants and in some homes. But starting in the 50's, oyster services became popular in households throughout France.
Oyster service are typically comprised of 6 to 12 individual plates and one large master platter.
Below you'll find a brief summary of the principal french manufacturers proposing oyster services in the 20th century.
Faiences de l'Est
Sarreguemines: Started in 1790 during the French Revolution in the city of Sarreguemines on the East side of the country along the border with Germany.
1836 :Production partner with Villeroy-Boch
1873 : New factory in the town of Digoin
1976 : Sarreguemines bought by group Luneville Badonviller Saint Clément.
2007 : Ended activity
2009 : Mark restarted by group Dudson (UK)
Sarreguemines oyster plates are made in playful patterns and colorful whether monochrome or polychrome.
Luneville Saint Clément Keller&Guérin
Lunneville was founded in 1730 by Jacques Chambrette.
1749 Perfection of materials such as pipe clay and opaque porcelain.
Saint Clement was started in 1758 to avoid import taxes imposed on German manufacturers.
In 1892, the fusion between the two companies takes on the name Lunéville Keller & Guerin.
Majolica or faience oyster plates in hexagonal pattern with floral decorations.
In 1735, the factory was created at Niderviller in Moselle. The factory is still in activity today fabricating faience and porcelain.
Niderviller provided blank plates to other manufacturers for decoration, for example Pornic,
Niderviller made oyster plates in Majolica or barbotine.
Bourgogne, the factory at Longchamp started in 1867 with the Poteries de Bourgogne which became the Faiencerrie de Longchamp in 1912. Activity ceased in 2009 and just restarted in 2018.
Majolica oyster plates in the rope and basket pattern.
Faiences du Nord
Orchies Saint Amand Les Eaux Hamage
Already owners of a factory at Rimbaud in Belgium in the 1870's, Emile L'Herminé Declercq, wanting to increase production, partnered with his brother Joseph in 1886. Orchies is situated near the Belgian border and not far from Saint Amand les Eaux, the celebrated center of ceramic production since the 18th century at the fainecerie of Moulin des Loups.
In 1904, they turned their production toward artistic pottery under the name of “L'Herminé et Cie". One may also see the marque “OLD” or Orchies L'Herminé Declercq. In the 1920's, the Orchies faiencerie merged with the faiencerie of Hamage and became “Mooulin des Loups & Hamage”. The marque is generally a windmill with Orchies in captial letters.
The studios produced until 1980 when they closed permanently. The production of flower pots in floral decorations inspired from the Art Deco period are typical “Orchies” pieces. Orchies oyster plates are usually pale colored. The wells are made in the form of scallops.
Faiences de l'Ouest
The first pottery at Quimper started in 1708 with Jean-Marie Bousquet and his son Pierre.
The decors were influenced by those produced in Rouen.
1770 - Commencement by Antoine de la Hubaudière operating under the name of the Grande maison de la Hubaudière
Beginning 19th century – development of the factory Porquier which then passes la Hubaudière.
1875 : Name Pourquier-Beau
1891 : Start of new manufacturer under Jules Henriot.
Beginning 20th century – 3 manufacturers of faience at Quimper
HB – Hubaudière
PB – Porquier – Beau
HR – Henriot
1904 – Henriot purchased Porquier – Beau
1917 - Jules Verlingue buys la grande maison HB
1969 - After financial difficulties, HB and Henriot merge.
Henriot Quimper Oyster plates in various patterns.
Fab - Fabrique d'Art Breton created in 1994
Keraluc - Founded in 1946 by Victor Lucas. Bought by HB-Henriot in 1984.
Oyster plate in the Keraluc G6 pattern in sandstone.
Saint Jean de Bretagne - Began operation in 1943. The patterns are very colorful with Celtic inspiration. Production ceased in 1989.
St. Jean de Bretagne Oyster plate
MBFA Pornic - Manufacture Bretonne de Faiences Artistiques MBFA was created after WWII by members of the Dryander family which were owners of the faiencerie of Niderviller.
Ceramics of the South
Vallauris - Encompasses different ceramists and companies working in the area of Vallauris in Provence starting in the 19th century.
The activity at Vallauris exploded with the arrival of Picasso in 1947.
Vallauris Oyster plates have complex forms and bright colors.
Ceramics of Central France
The production starts in 1821 in the town of Gien,. The founder is the former owner of Montereau, Thomas Edme Hulm. After overcoming numerous difficulties, the company is still in activity producing high quality ceramics.
Gien Oyster plates in turquoise