This is a rare and gorgeous Belleek cabaret tea service for four in the famous Shamrock 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. 


It is extremely rare to come across an entire cabaret set of these antique items, particularly when in perfect condition, so this is a rare opportunity!


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.


The Shamrock series is one of the most classic and popular designs Belleek has made. It could be found in many Irish households and is still made and widely popular today - although these antique items have an unrivalled delicacy that you won't see in contemporary items. Many Belleek designs are inspired by nature rather than by fashion: there are sea shells, froth, kelp, tree roots and bark, corals and weaved baskets. The Shamrock series is shaped in the shape of finely woven wicker baskets and has sweet sprigs of shamrock draped across the surface. Each detail is true to the concept; the surface is wonderfully woven, and the handles and even the finial of the teapot are made like twigs of wood, bound together with straw ribbons. The shamrock leaves are finely moulded and painted in two shades of green, wonderfully portraying the uniquely green colour of the Irish landscape. The large and beautifully lobed tray is a wonderful pattern of wicker basket, set off with a rim of twigs.


As every Belleek collector knows, no two items are exactly the same; the cob lustre glazing on the inside of each cup is slightly different, and each handle has a slightly different colour and texture. 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.


CONDITION REPORT The entire set is in perfect antique condition with no damage or wear, which is incredibly rare for such a delicate set of this age. That being said, as in many of these early sets there are a few minor imperfections from production to note. There is a tiny patch of discolouration on the inside of the spout of the teapot (see last picture) - I have looked with a magnifying glass and this is not damage, but some inconsistency in the glazing. There are tiny patches of stray paint on the edges of some of the cups, baked into the glazing. It is entirely normal for these old sets to have these imperfections and it should be seen as a sign of authenticity rather than shortcomings.


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 9cm (3.5") high to the top of the finial, measures 20cm (8") from handle to spout; teacup 8.5cm (3 3/8")diameter; saucer 13cm (5 1/8") diameter; bowl 9cm (3.5") diameter; milk jug 11cm (4 1/4") from handle to spout; tray 45cm X 37cm (17 3/4" X 14.5").


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, Shamrocks, Belleek 1891-1926

  • Your item will be shipped after receipt of funds, unless agreed otherwise in writing. 

    We will ship your items within a maximum of 2 working days after payment (usually quicker). We cannot be held responsible for delivery times once the item has been shipped as this is at the shipper's discretion and, in case of international delivery, can be subject to customs delays, weather, holidays and/or political instability.


    If your delivery failed to appear or was damaged in transit, please let us know as soon as possible and, in case of damage, provide us with pictures of the damaged item and/or packaging. Cut off dates for this are 14 days after shipping, or 2 days after a damaged delivery. We will need to comply with shippers' regulations in order to follow up the issue, but it is vital that you let us know what is wrong as soon as possible. We will do anything we can to follow up faulty deliveries but cannot be held responsible if we have not been notified within the required time period. 

    We always aim to have happy customers so if you have an issue with or questions about your item, please contact us and we will do anything we can to resolve the issue with you! 

  • Cancellations can only be accepted before the item has been shipped. Once an item has been shipped, the transaction cannot be cancelled anymore.

    Returns need to be requested within 2 days of receipt of the item and completed within 14 days from the date they have been agreed in writing.

    If you want to return an item because you changed your mind, you will be responsible for the return shipping. For international deliveries, this will need to be a fully tracked shipping mode. The item is expected to be received back in the same state it was sent - any damage due to insufficient packaging will be your responsibility. We will only pay for return shipping if we have mutually agreed that the item did not satisfy your expectations. A refund will be made immediately after receipt of the item.

    You are subject to the EU Consumers Rights Act, which protects your rights buying over the internet.


    We always aim to have happy customers so if you have an issue with or questions about your item, please contact us and we will do anything we can to resolve the issue with you! 

Covid-19 - we are open for business! 

We can ship normally to most destinations, but some are currently closed.

For the time being we have had to raise shipping prices as shippers are now charging more.

As we are living under lock down and can't always reach our stock, lead times will be a little longer than usual.

For now, please bear with us as we do our best to get your parcels to you as quickly as we can! 

If needed we are happy to hold your parcel for you until the end of the pandemic.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss and thank you for your business - it is a vital support for our business! 🙏

© 2020 by Gentle Rattle of China, London UK  

copyright on all images and text

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