Volume 5 Issue 12
BELLEEK IRISH PORCELAIN
Belleek Irish Porcelain is a thin, ivory-colored translucent porcelain. The glaze is almost iridescent. The shamrock pattern is the most well-known, although there are other patterns. Some of the patterns are Limpet, Tridacna, Echinus, Thorn, and Grasses.
Prices of pieces with an older stamp can sometimes bring triple than those of a similar current piece.
The series of marks are as follows:
First Period Black mark 1863-1890
Second Black Mark 1891-1926
Third Black Mark 1926-1946
First Green Mark 1946-1955
Second Green Mark 1955-1965
Third Green Mark 1965-1981
First Gold or Seventh Mark 1981-1992
Eighth Mark(Blue) 1993-1996
Ninth Mark 1997-1999
Tenth Mark-The Millenium Stamp Year 2000 Only
Eleventh Mark 2001-2006
Twelth Mark 2007 - Celebrating 150 Years
There is an Irish saying: If a newly married couple receives a gift of Belleek, their marriage will be blessed with lasting happiness.
Belleek Irish Porcelain was founded in 1857 by three men; John Caldwell Bloomfield, Robert Williams Armstrong, and David McBirney. John Bloomfield agreed to provide the land, Armstrong would build, design, and manage the pottery, and McBirney to finance it. Hence, initially, the pottery was named "D. McBirney & Co.".
In the beginning, the pottery produced earthenware and other articles of domestic-ware, floor tile, hospital wares, and telephone insulators. Eventually, the pottery was profitable enough to allow them to experiment with parian ware. They were finally successful in 1863 to produce a quality fit to be marketed.
In 1882 McBirney became ill with a cold and died causing a disagreement with McBirney's son, who wanted the pottery sold, and Armstrong, who resisted. A legal battle began, but ended upon the untimely death of Armstrong. The pottery was closed shortly out of respect for the death of Armstrong. It was then put up for auction and sold to a group of investors.
The pottery was reopened in 1884 under the new name "Belleek Pottery Works". The new owners were more interested in making a profit, concentrating on the production of earthenware. Therefore, the production of parian suffered.
During the period of 1887-1900, the pottery won two gold medals; the 1887 Adelaide exhibition in Australia and in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition.
Due to a long running dispute in the 1880's with the Erne Drainage Board, consequences of war. and the dwindling of the workforce, took its toll on the profitability of the pottery. It was again put up for sale in September of 1919. In 1920, it was sold to Bernard O'Rouke, a wealthy mill owner. It was sold with the agreement that it was to remain a pottery and not converted to any other use.
It was again renamed Belleek Pottery Limited. A long succession of managers worked for the pottery, but only two made any impression on the Pottery. During WWII, the Pottery returned to making of earthenware. This helped get it through the hard times. Even during these hard times, a small amount of parian was being produced. Once the kilns were installed, the production of parian was possible. Then, the production of earthenware was stopped.
By 1952, electric kilns had been installed and production could bearly keep up with the demand from both markets of domestic and overseas.
In 1982, the Pottery was once again in trouble. It was rescued by the Northern Ireland Industrial Development Board. Once again it was on good standing financially and it was sold to Roger Troughton who headed a consortium. With his influence the Collector's Society was formed.
In 1988, an engineering company, Powerscreen International, purchased it from Roger Troughton. Improvements were made through the International Fund for Ireland. It now has a new visitor's centre, restaurant, museum, and audio-visual theatre.
In March 1990, the Pottery was purchased from Powerscreen International by George Moore. He is originally from Drogheda, but is now living in California. Belleek Pottery is still in production today.
View the Belleek Marks, Descriptions, and to Date your pieces by:
Belleek Pottery's Official Website
To view some examples of antique Belleek Irish Porcelain:
Marion Langham Specialist in Belleek and Paperweights
Belleek Pottery's Official Website
Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide - 32nd Edition
Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide - Eighteenth Edition
Belleek Irish Porcelain by Marion Langham
The Next Monthly Newsletter will feature water globes.
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