Irish Belleek Earthenware Vegetable Tureen c1895

Irish Belleek Earthenware Vegetable Tureen c1895

Large plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face VERY RARE common ware Second Period Belleek Tureen.

No lid and with lots of condition problems - see below. But it does have unusual features like the shaped handles and feet. Note the nice style of the handles w they are joined to the body. Scroll shaped turned-up feet.

See Neville Maguire's excellent book " Belleek in Context ".

In this book earthenware is described in detail.

Earthenware Belleek (Co. Fermanagh ) is extremely rare.

Let us examine the history. Founded in 1857- this world famous Pottery started with humble beginnings. The original founders (Armstrong, Bloomfield and McBirney) lacked the necessary expertise or facilities to produce fine porcelain. In fact all the profits from the sale of earthenware went into financing their experiments in fine Parian ware. The early kilns used only turf or peat as a fuel, grown and cut in the local bogs. The clay used in this earthenware was also from the locality, as indeed was the water to run the mills and the people to throw the pots!

Early Irish Belleek earthenware is a quintessential true product of Ireland.

Later ware and present day china use imported coal as a fuel and imported

Earthen ware Belleek ceased production in 1946.

The History Of Belleek Pottery

The Founder Years

In 1849 John Caldwell Bloomfield inherited the Castlecaldwell estate, which encompassed the village of Belleek, from his father. Mindful of the plight of his tenants in the aftermath of the potato famine he sought to provide some form of worthwhile employment. An amateur mineralogist, he ordered a geological survey of his land. To his delight it revealed the necessary raw materials to make Pottery - feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale.

The village of Belleek, whose name in Gaelic, beal leice, translates to 'Flagstone Ford' was a natural choice to locate the business especially the part of the village known as Rose Isle. This small isle provided the best opportunity to leash the yet untamed power of the River Erne - power to drive a mill wheel strong enough to grind components into Slip, the term applied to liquid potters clay.

Bloomfield acquired partners in the venture, Robert Williams Armstrong an architect from London with an abiding interest in ceramics, and David Mc Birney, a wealthy Dublin merchant.

Next he pulled strings, lobbied and practically paved the way single handedly for the Railway Service to come to Belleek. By rail, coal could be brought in to fire the Kilns and the finished Belleek product could be sent to market with ease.

Raw materials, power, capital and transportation all in place, plans for the construction of a Pottery building were drawn up. On Thursday 18th November 1858 Mrs Bloomfield laid the foundation stone.

Young apprentices and capable workmen were to be found locally but Armstrong knowing that the Pottery's success hinged on talented craftsmen and experienced Potters went to England. Offering high wages and a better lifestyle he brought back 14 craftsmen from Stoke-on-Trent.

The Pottery's early production centered on high quality domestic ware - pestles, mortars, washstands, hospital pans, floor tiles, telegraph insulators and tableware. However from the beginning Armstrong and Mc Birney wanted to make porcelain not only to utilise the available mineral wealth but also to give full scope to the craftsmanship quickly developing in the Pottery. Their early attempts failed and it was not until 1863 that a small amount of Parian was produced. Even though the knowledge and skill to create Parian had been gained earthenware remained the principal product at Belleek until 1920.

By as early as 1865 the company had established a gr...

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