Oyster Tin, Foote's Best Oysters

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This gallon tin once contained fresh oyster meats packed by the D. E. Foote & Co., Inc. Established in 1870 on West and Jackson Streets in Baltimore, D. E. Foote was one of a hundred oyster packing firms in the city that year, reflecting the enormous volume of trade in oysters from the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1906 the U.S. Congress passed several pure food laws in response to outbreaks of typhoid fever and gastrointestinal ailments linked to poor sanitation. Several new regulations were imposed on the oyster industry after contaminated oysters were blamed for serious illnesses. The laws required inspections of oyster beds and packing houses, as well as the identification of shellfish sources and standardized labeling.
This tin probably dates to the period 1920-30, when colorful lithographed tins became popular. It includes the old-style bail handle, a feature that was phased out around this time in an effort to reduce manufacturing costs. Like many Baltimore oyster packers, the Foote Company addressed consumers’ fears about sanitation by emphasizing the clean conditions under which the oysters were handled and citing its compliance with the law. The message to consumers on the reverse of the can reads: “THIS CAN CONTAINS STRICTLY FRESH SHUCKED SALT WATER OYSTERS PACKED UNDER PERSONAL SUPERVISION IN THE MOST SANITARY MANNER IN CONFORMITY WITH THE NATIONAL PURE FOOD LAW. KEEP ON ICE UNTIL USED.”
date made
D. E. Foote & Co., Inc
place made
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
Physical Description
ferrous tinned (overall material)
overall: 7 1/8 in x 6 3/4 in; 18.0975 cm x 17.145 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
related event
The Emergence of Modern America
See more items in
Work and Industry: Food Technology
Industry & Manufacturing
Health & Medicine
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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