Vintage 1960s Sea Shell Appetizer Trays - Reese Finer Foods - Set of Seven Shells with Original Packaging
One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller
Henry Miller's quote is just a perfect way to describe the life of these 1960's era seashells and the Chicago company that brought them to the vintage marketplace.
When German immigrant Max H. Ries arrived in America in the late 1930s, he was expecting to open a textile business in the city of Chicago. It was the trade he knew back in his native Munich and he was both confident and excited that such an enterprise would and could succeed in the bustling city of Chicago too. But as we all know, when we completely uproot ourselves and take residence in a new place, life has a habit of making us look at the world in a slightly different way. Such was the case with Max too. Upon arriving in America, Max realized that what Chicago really needed was not another textile business but instead a gourmet food store. One that specialized in items not found commonly found at the grocery store. Items that were exotic in nature, that came from far-off places and sparked the imagination as much as the appetite.
By the late 1940s, Reese Finer Foods was where you went in Chicago to buy fried butterflies, chocolate-covered ants, canned hornets, foie gras, and other such delicacies. In addition to these culinary curiosities, Max also sold dynamic serving pieces too. Ones that would bring a touch of foreign ports-of-call home to your dinner table. That's where these vintage 1960s-era seashells come in.
Bundled together in groups of four these 100% natural seashells were intended to enchant buyers as items seen not just dotting the shoreline but also as fully functional appetizer trays for sea-themed meals. Deviled crab, shrimp cocktail, cod cakes, lobster salad... those were just a few of the suggestions recommended for a tropical beach-themed dining experience served here on seashells imported by Reese Finer Foods from far-flung Japan. In the 1960s, when airplane travel was just taking off and meal making was all about putting the fun in food, these trays would have been the delight of the dinner party. Wanderlust approved!
As far as our intrepid immigrant story goes, Max's exotic gourmet concept in Chicago was such a success he wound up opening offices in Paris and Los Angeles before Resse Finer Foods was sold to Pet Inc. in the late 1960s.
Nowadays, you may not want to use these as serving trays given their age and raw nature, but they do make wonderful styling aids for your seaside dinner. Use them for place cards, centerpiece displays, tea light candle holders or just a casual display scattered about the table and you'll add a little bit of vintage whimsy to all your beach themed parties.
- This set contains seven natural seashells in original box
- Three of the shells contain their original made in Japan stickers
In lovely vintage condition. Since these shells are all 100% natural they each contain a unique appearance. Stripes, shading, and color variations are a natural compionant to this type of product as well as uneven edges. Since these were harvested from the ocean, they are also slight variations in size and marks caused by other sea creatures that the shells came in contact with (like pecking holes from birds and barnacle formations). Please see photos.
The box is in strong and sturdy condition and is completely intact with vibrant seashorse graphics (so cute!). There is some slight tanning and foxing on three sides of the box. The clear plastic lid features some slight tape reside on two sides.
Each shell rages in size between 4.75"inches - 5.15" inches (width) x 4.75" inches -5" inches (length) and weighs approx. 3.2 oz each.
The box measures 5.5" inches (width) x 5.5"inches (length) x 2.5" inches (height)