This is a beautiful Belleek cabaret tea service for four in the Tridacna design, consisting of a teapot, four teacups and saucers, a milk jug and a sugar bowl, all placed on a large tray. All items carry the 2nd Black Mark, which was used between 1891 and 1926; the set can therefore be considered almost certainly antique.

 

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 caused by British-imposed mono culture and 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.

 

The Tridacna series is one of the very classic and popular designs Belleek has made and could be found in many Irish households. Many Belleek designs are inspired by nature rather than by fashion: there are sea shells, froth, seaweeds, tree roots and bark, corals and weaved baskets. The Tridacna series is inspired by a beautiful ice pail that Belleek designed for the Prince of Wales. This ice pail rests on a shell called "tridacna", which is a saltwater clam. Each detail is true to the concept; the surface is wonderfully fluted and the finial as well as the teapot and milk jug handles are made like seaweed, as are the teacup handles. A detail that shows Belleek's attention to detail is that if you put the lid of the teapot in the correct way, you can see that it was cut out of the same piece of moulding as it fits perfectly. This pot takes you into the deep seas, and it never fails to inspire your imagination.

 

The tea service is made in a beautiful cream colour and the tray is blush cream with pink with a modestly gilded rim. And as every Belleek collector knows, no two items are exactly the same; all cream shades are ever so slightly different and two teacups have single handles which two have double handles - even though all carry the same mark so must have been made in the same period. Belleek was famous for always slightly changing things and as many households kept adding to their sets over the years, sets often end up with slightly different shades and details, which adds to their charm. The tray of course belonged originally to a gilded pink set, but it looks fabulous with this cream set.

 

CONDITION REPORT The entire set is in beautiful antique condition. The pot has clearly been used as it is a bit stained inside but there is no damage. There is a rough bit on the very tip of the spout and I have inspected this under a magnifying glass; it seems to be more a firing fault than damage and you can't really see it with the naked eye and only feel it with a finger if you touch it very carefully. The tray is in perfect condition with only slight rubbing to the gilt, which is hard to notice as it is so modest in the first place. There is no other damage or wear to any of the items and they all look fresh and shiny.

 

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 The pot stands 10.5cm (4 1/8"") high to the top of the finial and measures 19cm (7.5") from handle to spout. It pours 1 pint; teacup 8cm (3 1/4")diameter; saucer 12cm (4 3/4") diameter; bowl 7cm (2 3/4") diameter; milk jug 7cm (2 3/4") diameter and 12cm (3 1/4") from handle to spout; tray 39cm X 35.5cm (15.5" X 14").

 

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.

Cabaret tea set, cream Tridacna, Belleek 1891-1926

SKU: A-BEL20
£1,050Price
  • Your item will be shipped after receipt of funds, unless agreed otherwise in writing. 

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© 2019 by Gentle Rattle of China - copyright on all images and text

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