This is a very rare Belleek cabaret set for two, or "Tete a Tete", made in the famous Echinus series. The tray, teapot and milk jug carry the 1st Black Mark, which was used between 1863 and 1891; the teacups are modern and carry the 3rd Green Mark, used between 1965 and 1981. The diamond mark on the teapot and milk jug shows a code for the year 1868, a year after this model was launched and it had become very popular.


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 problematic due to ongoing agricultural 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 Echinus series is one of the most famous series Belleek brought out. Queen Victoria loved it and ordered a little breakfast set just like this, which she used every morning in her room. Echinus was named after a sea urchin, and you can see why: the belly of the teapot is shaped and moulded like a sea urchin. But the references to sea life don't stop there: the handle, foot and spout are all shaped like coral, and the finial of the teapot is a little shell held up by little twigs of sea asparagus. The artwork of the moulding is exquisite, all the way from the urchin surface to the rather wild and slightly spooky coral handle. The milk jug and teacups have beautiful lustre inside; the teacups a little darker than the jug. The tray has a beautiful imprinted pattern of what looks like large kelp leaves, and the same charming choral pattern around the edges matching the handles of the teapot and milk jug.


As mentioned, the tray, teapot and milk jug are original antiques; the teacups are from a later period and have a slightly different colour inside. These items are extremely rare to find these days so even to find this set is a unique opportunity.


CONDITION REPORT All items are in perfect antique condition with no damage or wear. You will see little firing cracks in the surface of the tray, which is not unusual for such large porcelain items of that era; the firing process was difficult the larger the item, and this item obviously experienced some surface stress in the kiln. 


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 handle, and measures 16.5cm (6.5") from handle to spout. The jug stands 9cm (3.5") high and measures 12cm (4 3/4") from mouth to handle. Teacup is 8.5cm (3 3/4") diameter and 5cm (2") high, saucer is 13.5cm (5 1/4") diameter. The tray meausres 39cm (15.5") by 31.5cm (12.5").


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.

Rare cabaret set, cream Echinus, Belleek 1861-1981

  • 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! 

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