This is a rare and very charming Belleek centre piece or low comport, made between 1863 and 1890.
If you ever thought Belleek fine china looks, sounds and feels unique, you are right. There is a back story to this extraordinarily fine Irish eggshell porcelain, which has an unusually high amount of "frit" and therefore is thinner and finer than any other china.
Pottery in Belleek (in the now Northern-Irish area of Fermanagh) had started in 1849 with John Caldwell Bloomfield, who was a wealthy land owner. During the Irish famine he realised that unless he would find a way for his tenants to make a profit off the land, they would starve. Agriculture had become impossible due to the diseases that were plaguing the Emerald Island at that time. This caused millions to starve and more millions to leave. As an amateur mineralogist, John Caldwell Bloomfield realised that his land had exactly the right mineral deposits to be used as clay for porcelain. He involved several investors and scientists and after many years of research, trial, error, the building of a railway line to import coal from England, and building a factory, the Belleek pottery resulted, employing the local people and soon producing the finest china made with clay from the Belleek area.
What had started as a way to fend off famine among the local tenants had became a story of incredible success by the 1880s as Queen Victoria fell in love with the fine white china and the many homely, slightly bizarre but nature-loving designs; this was different from English tradition, yet it was very much to the taste of the British who had developed a real love for home-made fine china since it was introduced in the late 18th Century. Soon the English nobility started to place big orders and the pottery is still flourishing today and selling its wares the world over, while in England most potteries have long disappeared.
This low comport would have been part of a larger dessert service that had, besides its plates, a large centre piece, a high comport and two of these low comports. On a modern size dinner table, this would make a fabulous centre piece by itself. It consists of a large shell that is carried by three dolphins; the foot of the item is shaped like the wild water of the sea. The dolphins look slightly mischievous, and they have large mouths full of little teeth. The whole item is very life-like, yet it is cheerful; it is a really lovely addition to any table and is a great item to present fruit.
CONDITION REPORT The whole piece is in fantastic condition, except one flaked chip to the rim of the shell; this is not very obvious. There is a little firing fault to the tail of one of the dolphins; this looks like it is from production and is stable.
Please note that all items in my shop are of vintage or antique condition. They have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear. I will reflect any damage, repairs or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks and stains can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.
There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can see with the eye; a hairline runs over the surface glazing but not the body of the item and a crack runs through the body of the item, usually weakening its structure. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!
DIMENSIONS 25cm (9 3/4") diameter; stands 12cm (4 3/4") high.
SHIPPING I ship worldwide from the UK, mostly by Royal Mail 2nd Class for the UK and International Tracked and Signed for the rest of the world. I am happy to combine shipping charges on multiple items - please contact me to discuss. In principle I do not make a profit on shipping although for simplicity's sake I charge flat shipping fees. If the fee charged greatly exceeds the actual cost I will gladly refund you the difference - at the same time if it is slightly lower I will gladly make up the difference. In some countries shipping will end up significantly more than the expected fees and I will contact you to discuss our options. PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING SHIPPING COSTS AND OPTIONS.