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Antiques Considered - October 5, 2011

This plate was a recent gift to a gentleman who has long been interested in the history of the Chesapeake Bay. The donor acquired it at a bazaar, intending to give it to the present owner. It commemorates the centenary of the Baltimore Steam-Packet Company, more familiarly known as the Old Bay Line in 1940. The center depicts a map of the bay with highlights of the Maryland and Virginia shorelines.

 The border shows some of the most famous steamships that the line ran up and down the bay, beginning with the “Eagle” in 1815, and including the “Georgia” in 1840, the first Old Bay Line steamer. The plate is a product of Lamberton china at Trenton, N.J. It is in perfect condition.

The Old Bay Line, perhaps more than any other institution, represents the glory days of the Chesapeake Bay. It operated out of Baltimore from 1840 to 1962, plying the waters with steamboats carrying passengers from up and down the bay to Norfolk. It had a terminal in Washington, and that arm of the line made stops across the Northern Neck and Southern Maryland.

From 1840 to 1940 The Old Bay Line owned and operated 48 steamers. As a 7-year-old my parents took me on the steamboat “District of Columbia” from the Washington terminal to the dock in Hampton at Old Point Comfort. We disembarked in our car on the massive wharf, which still was being used for commercial shipping. It remains one of the most exciting trips in my memory. I particularly recall dining in the great saloon and sleeping in the elegant stateroom. At about 10 p.m. we gathered on the top deck to watch passing under the Potomac River Bridge, long before it was given the name of Maryland Governor Harry W. Nice.

Online one of these plates is available for $75, but I suspect that here in the bay region, at an auction or estate sale, the price achieved could be much higher. I need not say that the plate is for display, and should not be used for food, as the transfer of the design might be lost.

Happy antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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