Oyster Tin, Heyser’s Oysters

Description
This gallon tin once contained fresh oyster meats packed by the Wm. Heyser Company. Established in 1871 between Pratt, Grant, and Ellicott Streets in Baltimore, the block became known as the “Heyser block” as the company grew.
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. Heyser’s distinctive red tins featured a stylized H resting on an open oyster with the sun’s rays shining on a waterfront city certainly meant to be Baltimore. 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, Wm. Heyser explicitly addressed consumers’ fears about sanitation by emphasizing the clean conditions under which the oysters were handled and citing its compliance with the law. The reverse of the tin contains this message:
“GUARANTEE / OYSTERS CONTAINED IN THIS CAN WERE PACKED IN THE MOST ADVANCED SANITARY MANNER TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PURE FOODS REGULATIONS
Shucked Fresh From The Beds—CAUTION—Fresh oysters are perishable. This can must be kept in refrigerator or in contact with ice until contents are used.”
Object Name
oyster can
date made
1920-1930
maker
Wm Heyser Co.
Physical Description
ferrous tinned (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 7 9/16 in x 6 11/16 in; 19.20875 cm x 16.98625 cm
place made
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
ID Number
2007.0087.01
catalog number
2007.0087.01
accession number
2007.0087
subject
Advertising
Food
Health & Medicine
Industry & Manufacturing
Work
Fishing
event
The Emergence of Modern America
See more items in
Work and Industry: Food Technology
Exhibition
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater
Additional Media

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