“If a newly married couple receives a piece of Belleek, their marriage will be blessed with lasting happiness.” (Old Irish saying.)
Belleek porcelain was first produced on the shore of the Elbe River, just outside of Belleek, Ireland. The story goes that a gentleman named John Caldwell Bloomfield one day decided to whitewash his home using a flaky white powder he found in the soil on his property. A neighbor passed by and commented on the pearl like appearance of his home prompting Bloomfield to test his soil. The luck of the Irish was on his side. All the ingredients for making porcelain were right there on his land. Bloomfield teamed up with a couple of partners and began making first earthenware and then porcelain. This is how Belleek china was born. Belleek is now the most famous pottery producing business in Ireland.
Belleek china is known for its delicate eggshell thin pieces and fine quality. The oldest pieces are a creamy color with a pearl like luster. The pieces were always hand painted and often show off shamrock designs. In 1863 a picture of a castle tower with a wolfhound and a harp on either side seated on a bed of shamrocks became Belleek’s official mark. The earliest marks were black and were used until 1946.
It is hard to copy such fine quality but as with all famous sought after pieces there are always some people out there producing fakes. Here is what you should look for: Belleek china will always be very thin and almost translucent. There should be no flaws. The glaze should be shiny and smooth without drips. Belleek pieces should have a pearl-like luster and changes in color should be almost undetectable. Some of Belleeks more famous lines are its seashell designs, marine themes and basket weaves.
You can find many beautiful Belleek pieces at Albany Antique Mall, on 2nd & Ellsworth in downtown Albany. We are open daily. Come share a cup of coffee with us.