Crab and lobster plates

The story of a Majolica lobster and crab plate by Alvaro José of Caldas da Rainha (1880)

Eugenia Melián. 30/04/2015
Ceramic piece. Photo:

We became obsessed with finding these decorative majolica plates after we saw them hanging on a wall in a restaurant in Lisbon in october 2014. We then missed the opportunity of buying them at the flea market that saturday even though we found a beautiful pair.

Regretting this as soon as we left Lisbon we had a local friend called Juan look for them week after week but they never resurfaced.

Ceramic piece. Photo:

My boyfriend Paul is very persevering and found four different ones from all around Europe, on the Internet. I have been researching  the artist Alvaro José from Caldas in Portugal but apart from a date: 1880, I have found nothing else.

Caldas is famous for the earthenware factory of Bordallo Pinheiro which make beautiful artistic ceramics for the home. My childhood memories are filled with images of meals served in their cabbage leaf plates, tomato soup bowls, rooster water jugs and lettuce leaf platters in Andalusia in the 60’s. So now, in California, meet our two crabs and two lobsters from Portugal.

Ceramic piece. Photo:

The details on these are fascinating. You can see every barnacle, mussel shell, algae and grain of sand. They are big and very heavy, they feel lovely to the touch. I can now sit and admire them for hours and hours.

I do not like clutter, I do not collect things, I only like to surround myself with a few things ( and people) that bring me joy. These plates make me smile and celebrate great craftsmanship and a vivid imagination. I only wish I knew more about Alvaro José from Caldas Da Rainha, he must have been a very special man, a true artist.

Ceramic piece. Photo:

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