In 1879, three brothers, Joseph, David and Esmond R Willets, bought out the Excelsior Pottery built by William Young and Sons in Trenton, New Jersey. The company started with four kilns and by 1882 it had expanded to fourteen kilns and about 300 workers. Under the guidance of William Bromely Sr., Willets started the production of Belleek wares around late 1884 or early 1885 and continued for twenty-four years until 1909. The company had its' own decorating department as well as selling white-ware products.
This lovely hand-painted plate may be the product of the Company decorating studio, but was probably executed by another professional- studio or home-studio as it carries the Belleek stamp in brown which is associated with blank pieces sold by the firm.
The plate is covered with deep purple Poppy blossoms, shaded green leaves and unopened buds against a pastel background of pastel blue, golden tan and light brown hues skillfully blended together. The enamel is quite heavy giving a 3-dimensional affect. The plates measures 8 1/2" across with intermittent embossed pleats along the outer edge which is delicately trimmed with gold. The plate is stamped in brown with the image of a snake coiled to form a "W" and "Belleek - Willets". No artist signature. There are no cracks, chips, repairs or enamel ware. Gorgeous.