Lobster is sold by the lb., which is spelled “lb.” rather than “pound” to differentiate between the lobster’s weight and a tidal lobster pound, which is generally a cove fenced off to hold and feed previously trapped lobster until holidays or until prices rise enough that the product can be sold to financial advantage.

Lobster can be sold ungraded, which means buying it as it comes: in varied sizes and shell quality; or graded, which means being sold by size and by shell quality. Hard or old shell lobster bring more money than soft, shedder, or new shell lobster. One-clawed lobster are called culls and pistols; lobster lacking claws are called culls and bullets.

Two other shell problems lower the price: shell disease, which one might liken to severe acne because it affects shell quality only. Such lobster tastes the same as top quality lobster, but because it looks unattractive on the plate, it sells for less, as it can be sold for its meat content only. Cookers are lobster having such weak shells they cannot be transported and must be cooked immediately.

Lobsters that are 1 to 1 1„4 lb. are called chix and quarters. Lobsters that are 1 3„4 lb. are called three-quarters. Two lb. lobster are called twos, two pounders, and selects. Larger sizes are referred to by weight: i.e., threes, or three pounders, or called jumbos.

In Maine, the minimum size is 3 1/4″ from the eye socket to the end of the body shell. There is no minimum weight. The maximum legal size is 5 inches from the eye socket to the end of the body shell.

The exception: fishermen who sell their catch on the dock sell by size, whether hard or shedder, and whether the lobster has two claws. For instance: chix and quarters usually go for $8 each, pound-and-a-halves go for $10 each, and culls go for $6 apiece.