Article on Belleek Marks

I want to thank Neville Maguire Of the UK Collectors Group for allowing me to put his fantastic article on Belleek Marks on the website. Look at the bottom of the page under all the marks. Click here to read more.

First Period Mark - 1863-1890

We will start here with a 1st Period Mark or 1st Black Mark. The colour of the mark during this period was predominantly black but other colours were used, amongst them red, blue, orange, green, brown, and pink. Some pieces of Belleek also carry the British Patent Office registration mark which gives the date of registration, not the date the piece was manufactured. During this period Belleek also used impressed mark, with the words "BELLEEK,CO. FERMANAGH" or "BELLEEK", or a small impressed mark of a harp or harp and crown. The latter are more usually found on Earthenware pieces.

Second Period Marks - 1890-1926

2nd Period Mark or 2nd Black Mark. The Second mark used from 1891- 1926 reflects the addition of a ribbon surrounding the lower half of the design for the first mark on which appears the words "CO FERMANAGH IRELAND" The change in the trademark occurred in 1891 in compliance with the 1891 Mc Kinley Tariff Act and the 1887 British Merchandise Act as amended in 1891,requiring the country of origin to be specified on the article. The mark is black. Wherever impressed marks were used, particularly with figurines the word "IRELAND" is added. Sometimes discolouration or fading is seen in this mark. Although it is not definite why this occurred, it is likely that this product was made during the First World War when materials were difficult to acquire and inferior materials were used.

Third Period Marks - 1926-1946

3rd Period Mark or 3rd Black Mark. Introduced in 1926, possibly to mark the Wembley Exhibition of that year. It also contains the registry mark "REG No 0857". Interestingly this registry mark dates from 1884 but was only used from 1926! This mark is always black and was used up to 1946. Around scroll with Celtic decoration and the words "deanta in eireann" (made in Ireland) added. On Earthenware the stamp Belleek changed to "Melvin Ware" in 1936 probably to distinguish it from the more prestigious Parian China.

Fourth Period Marks - 1946-1955

4th period Mark or 1st Green Mark. The Pottery resumed full production in 1946 In tests carried out on backstamps, green was felt to be less obtrusive than black at showing through the translucent China and thus it was decided to change the colour from black to green. The mark is identical to its predecessor in every way except the colour.

Fifth Period Mark - 1955-1965

5th Period Mark or 2nd Green Mark. A capital "R" in a circle was added in 1955 to signify that the trademark had been registered in the United States. The additional mark is placed immediately above the right hand tip of the banner with the words "CO FERMANAGH IRELAND" the mark is Green. 

Sixth Period Mark - 1965-March 31st, 1980

6th Period Mark or 3rd Green Mark. The size of the mark was reduced in 1965 probably to accommodate placing stamps on smaller pieces. The "R" in the circle moved to above the harp on the main stamp. The mark is Green.

Seventh Period Mark April 1980-Dec 1992

7th Period Mark or 1st Gold Mark. In April 1980 the seventh mark was introduced to commemorate the centenary of Gold medal won at the Melbourne Exhibition of 1880. The colour was changed to gold and the round disk with "deanta in eireann" was omitted At some time around 1984 the gold colour on the mark was substituted with a brown colour, the reason is not known but it is likely that the colour was changed due to the gold burning off during firing.


Eighth Period Mark - Jan 1993-Dec 1996

8th Period Mark or 1st Blue Mark. The previous mark was earmarked to be changed in 1990 but due to changes and personnel this date was missed and the mark was not changed until 1993. Blue was chosen as the colour to differentiate it from other marks and it is similar to the second mark in style with the addition of the "R" above the harp. 

Ninth Period Mark - Jan 1997-Dec 1999

9th Period Mark or 2nd Blue Mark. This change was made due to purely technical reasons. There were a lot of problems with the first blue mark with parts of the mark burning off during firing. This resulted in a lot of pieces having to be re-fired with obvious added costs. New artwork for Belleek packaging had been developed around the same time and it was decided to use the opportunity to match both together. Looks like old 1st period mark but again has registered trade marksmall R. They also used to types of this one with the words "IRELAND" and one with EST 1857, under the word Belleek.

Tenth Period Mark - 2000

10th Period Mark or "The Millenium Stamp" for the year 2000 only.
The stamp is in black was used for the 4th time. Limited to pieces made during the year 2000.

Eleventh Period Mark - Jan 2001-Dec 2006

Green was used again for the 4th time. This is the current mark and is likely to remain until 2010. The green is a match of the colour used on earthenware during the first period.

Twelfth Period Mark - 2007

12th Period Mark or "The 150th Anniversary Stamp" for the year 2007 only.
This mark is in Black as well for the 5the time. And only the 2nd time Belleek used a mark for only one year. The firm of David Mc Birney & Co was formed in 1857 and the lease on the pottery site signed. The lease was for a term of 999 years. Robert Armstrong became the first manager and Art director of the pottery and it is interesting that the symbols chosen for the emblem of the Pottery were the Harp, Round Tower and Wolfhound sitting on an island of shamrocks. These are all- symbolic of Ireland. Perhaps chosen to proclaim the arrival of a new product of Ireland. In turn Belleek itself became symbolic of Ireland and often emigrants would bring a piece of Belleek with them to their new homes across the globe to serve as a reminder of "the old country".

Thirteenth Period Mark - Jan 2008-Dec 2010

13th Period Mark or 2nd Brown Mark. Down through the years Belleek have introduced numerous variations on the original trademark introduced by the founders in the 1860s. Initially no great thought was given to changing trademarks and it was first changed in 1891 due to the McKinley Tariff Act that compelled imported product into the United States to state their country of origin. Belleek already had a large export market in the United States among the many Irish emigrants and they immediately saw the benefits of marking Belleek products with "Made in Ireland" This second mark remained in place until 1926 when Belleek introduced its third mark probably to coincide with the Wembley Exhibition of 1926. A circle with Celtic knot work was added with the Gaelic words "deanta in éireann" meaning made in Ireland.

The fourth mark was introduced in 1946 with the only difference between it and the preceding mark was that the colour changed to green. No one is quite sure why the colour changed. Perhaps it was simply to have a different colour of mark. However one explanation given was that a green mark was less noticeable looking at it from the inside of a Belleek piece! 

The green fifth mark was introduced in 1955 and a registry "R" replaced the old registered number "0857" It remained until 1965 when the green 6th mark was made smaller and the "R" was positioned above the harp on the stamp.

In 1980 a gold coloured stamp was introduced, shortening the banner inscription to "Ireland" and removing the Celtic disc altogether. Although the original plan was to replace the trademark every ten years after 1980, this did not work out and the next new mark did not come into place until 1993! This blue mark was based on the old second mark but due to its small size and difficulty in firing it successfully, it was decided to replace it in 1997 with a second blue mark larger and with a new representation of the Wolfhound, Round Tower and Harp. 

In 2000 Belleek celebrated the Millennium by issuing a black trademark for that year only. It differed from the older black stamps with a banner saying "Millennium 2000" A green mark was introduced in 2001, using a darker colour of green based on Belleek’s corporate green.

In 2007 Belleek celebrated its 150th anniversary and to mark that occasion a special black stamp was issued to commemorate the year. The style of the mark was subtly altered and a banner added above the mark saying "Celebrating 150 years".Bringing us up to date and introducing a new brown 13th trademark that will remain until at least 2017 when Belleek will hopefully celebrate its 160th birthday!

Fourteenth Period Mark

14th Period Mark or 3rd Brown Mark.
This stamp carries the same ethos and sentiments as the thirteenth mark and the inclusion of Belleek’s website address brings the mark of distinction into the modern age. Belleek understands that the consumer is becoming more and more knowledgeable and is now carrying out a vast amount of buyer research online. Therefore, the company launched its new, innovative website in 2010 and placed the website address on its backstamp as a means of providing further information to its valued customer. 

Belleek Brooch Marks

WOW what a great article on Belleek Brooches Marks, written by Margaret Montgomery. I want to thank her for the use of the article and thank the UK Collectors Group for all the awesome research that they have been doing. 
















Belleek Marks

I have put up this great article that was written by UK Collector Neville Maguire. I want to thank him for allowing me to use this on my website. The marks will start below this article.
















UK Belleek Collectors’ Group Newsletter 32/1 April 2011


As an addition to the potter’s mark there is either

an abbreviated version of it or a similar one with

another meaning as shown on the Ivy spill (right).


Another potter’s mark on an Ivy spill

just visible above the harp




Other colours and markings used for

Belleek backstamps


There is a wealth of colours used on parian for the

backstamp such as blue, red, brown and black.



Illustrations of early

Belleek backstamps in

different colours.


It is speculative but there does seem to be a pattern and that the colour referred to the body of the piece

and when it was made…but it is not that simple as what the colours referred to changed as

the pottery became more established. It appears the first colour was the true blue mark and then a red colour on

parian which may refer to the yellowish glaze and high lustre glaze found on such pieces. However the red

became identified with bone china and so it is not used on parian so much after the initial period of the pottery.

The red mark does appear to be referring to the body of the piece and most pieces with this red stamp seem to

have a very high lustre glaze and it may refer to this. A brown mark was also used until the black mark became

standardised and it too may have been used to denote some type of production. Of course there is a certain

overlap in the use of these stamps as we are only considering a short period of about 12 years at the most.


Some idea of what was produced in the early days can be gleaned from ‘A Catalogue of British Pottery and

Porcelain’, 1871 as published by the Museum of Practical Geology. The importance of this book is that it has a

list of Belleek items acquired before this date. Given the time lag of collecting, writing and producing the book

the items listed must have come from the early and mid 1860s. The list gives a description of the items and any

trademark markings. Just before publication of this article, I had the opportunity to inspect these items in detail

as it was discovered that they now mostly reside in the "study collection" at the Victoria and Albert museum,

having been transferred there from the Museum of Practical Geology in 1901. Some of these items are

extremely interesting and will feature in forthcoming articles. The list reads:


1. Mug in white porcelain with glaze of feeble lustre; a six-sided body ornamented with vine and ivy in relief,

satyr’s mask under spout, and rustic handle; mark, printed in brown, a round tower, harp, dog and shamrock,

with word BELLEEK. (‘Vine’ jug in stoneware)


2. Tazza, in cream-coloured porcelain, partly glazed, with ribbed body and pair of snake handles; mounted on

pedestal ornamented with garlands and festoons of raised flowers pendent from rams’ heads; impressed

mark in Irish characters. (An example similar to that at the Ulster Museum, illustrated in S. McCrum p.30)


3. Paper Weight in form of a dragon painted red and green, shells at base; mark as 1 printed in red, and Irish

character stamped. (This is a remarkable small paperweight, which is documented only in this catalogue and

not recorded elsewhere. It has extensive "Irish characters" impressed in its base. Having had the

opportunity to inspect and photograph this item at the V&A along with Bev and Chris Marvell, it is clear

that it is a very unusual piece.)


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UK Belleek Collectors’ Group Newsletter 32/1 April 2011


4. Spill-pot, 6 inches high, in form of a spike of Indian corn; cream-coloured porcelain coated with a lustrous

     glaze; leaves tinted yellow; mark printed in blue. (‘Indian Corn’ spill)

5. Large Shell of Dolium modelled in porcelain, tinted, and glazed. (a single unmarked large shell)

    This item is featured on the front cover of this Newsletter.

6. Small Shell of Nacta modelled in porcelain and glazed. (a single unmarked small shell)

7. Triple Basket formed of three conventional shells grouped with corals and seaweed; tinted and coated with

     lustrous glaze; printed in blue, and Irish character stamped. (triple bucket)

8. Salt cellar in form of a valve of Tridacna (clam shell); mounted on a group of shells, including Corinthium,

    Murex, &c.; cream coloured porcelain, tinted and glazed; mark printed in blue, and stamped BELLEEK,


9. Salt Cellar in form of a small clam shell, tinted and glazed; mark printed in blue.

10. Salt Cellar in form of a shell of dolium, tinted and glazed; mark printed in blue.

11. Muffineer in form of a shell of murex, supported on group of coral, tinted and glazed.

12. Argonaut Shell (paper nautilus) mounted on a group of coral springing from a base bestrewn with shells and

      seaweed; modelled in porcelain, tinted and glazed; mark printed in blue. (‘Nautilus on Coral’)

13. Cream Jug, in cream-coloured porcelain, ornamented and embossed diamond pattern, having blue bosses in

centres and red bosses at the angles, with gilt leaf borders running round the neck and foot; handle in the

form of a twisted cord, tinted purple; mark printed in blue. (‘Rope Handled’ jug)


This list shows the type of items that were produced by Belleek and considered important at the time. Of the

thirteen items seven backstamps are printed in blue, three have the ‘Irish Characters’ impressed, one has

‘Belleek Fermanagh’ impressed, one is printed in red and notably none has a black backstamp. The wording is

very clear where a printed backstamp is referred to it states, ‘mark printed in’. Where impressed identifications

are referred to it states, ‘and stamped BELLEEK, FERMANAGH.’ or ‘printed in blue’, and ‘Irish character

stamped’. It is clear that when ‘stamped’ is used it means impressed and that ‘Irish characters’ are different

from the words ‘BELLEEK, FERMANAGH’ or the Belleek backstamp. Since the contemporary meaning of a

character was a letter of an alphabet then ‘Irish characters’ should refer to the potter’s mark as being of Gaelic

letters. Note also with the exception of the first item which is stoneware all of them are parian and none of them

are earthenware. It is interesting that it is commonly thought that the potter’s mark is of Irish characters but

nobody is able to read them as such. This leads to considering as to whether they are in fact of Irish origin

whilst still accepting this is as they are described. What is clear is that the potter’s marks and all impressed

marks were made with forethought as the mould was being made but the different coloured backstamps seem to refer to a type of decoration or glaze after the piece had been fired.

This list of an early collection of Belleek contrasts with the registered designs of Belleek, the earliest of which

were registered in September 1868. The above catalogue list is a special selection of the earliest designs mainly based on seashells. They appear to be pieces that predate the registered pieces and show what Belleek was producing in the early 1860s. They relied heavily on adapting designs from other potteries. Now that the

whereabouts of these pieces has been discovered, we will be able to research them in more detail.


‘Belleek' or 'Belleek, Fermanagh' Impressed Stamps

Note that the 1871 catalogue from the Museum of Practical Geology mentions these impressed marks. The

Nautilus Shell vase (on a previous page) also has a 'Belleek, Fermanagh' stamp on it. These two impressed

stamps were used frequently throughout the first period and not just in the 1860s. This means that it is difficult

to ascribe any particular time to a piece with this mark by itself, apart from the fact that many early pieces have

this alone or in conjunction with the normal printed mark.


Registration Marks

The registration dates for Belleek pieces have been fully researched by Brian

Russell and so there is no need to restate these here.

Harp jug showing raised diamond registration mark.

Note the blue stamp with registration date of 18th December 1869



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UK Belleek Collectors’ Group Newsletter 32/1 April 2011


Care needs to be taken with these registration dates as the prevailing view is that registrated pieces were not

produced before registration which is not necessarily the case and pieces may have been produced before they were registered. This may have been because it was considered unnecessary before as Belleek was working closely with Worcester and there may have not been the urgency to register them as other potteries were not seen as a threat in the early period especially as Belleek was using designs from other potteries.


Date of Production stamps on Earthenware

Another indication of time is what is commonly accepted as impressed date numbers on earthenware that

appear as two numbers above a line with two numbers below. The top two refer to the week of the year out of

52 and the bottom two refer to the year. The years 1877 and 1878 appear to have been particularly productive

as many pieces have numbers for these years. It seems that this date mark was in use for only a few years.


Pieces based on the design of other Potteries

Belleek quite clearly produced items similar in design from other

potteries and there are no marks especially for them such as

registration marks or any potter’s mark. Such designs illustrated

here are Copeland cups and saucers in a Shamrock and Grass

design which predate Belleek’s production of such teaware and a

Minton cabaret set in Belleek’s Lotus design which dates from the

early 1850s and so predates Belleek’s production of the ‘Lotus’

design cream and sugar.




Minton Cabaret set that predates Belleek’s production



Copeland cups and saucers with

deigns that are similar to



Certainly it is interesting that Belleek began seriously registering their

designs in September 1868 more rigorously around the time that

Copeland began producing designs that were similar to the Belleek

'Grass' pattern in 1867. The initial stage of trials had turned to full

production and they needed to protect their production by then.


There is also a very important Belleek plate (below) with the usual

Belleek backstamp with the pattern number but with an impressed

Aynsley mark in Simon and Melanie Whitlock’s collection. This

shows how Belleek were quite willing to use products from other

potteries to supplement their own production.




It was not unusual for potteries to do this and there was a history of retailers who solely dealt with decorating

ceramics from various potteries from the late eighteenth century. Donovan of Dublin from about 1780 until

1827 was such an impressive decorator and importer of pottery to Dublin that he was nicknamed, ‘The Emperor

of China’ and Worcester refused to sell their own decorating equipment to him because he had put them out of

business in Dublin.


Equally Aynsley were well known for producing blanks for other potteries such as the Glasgow potteries. The

efficient railways and other forms of transport were able to move these around the country. This puts the recent

connection between Belleek and Aynsley into an historical connection that goes back to the earliest production.

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UK Belleek Collectors’ Group Newsletter 32/2 July 2011

Regaining Time in Belleek - part 2

(À la recherche du temps perdu)


By Neville Maguire


This is the second part of an expanded version of a talk given in October 2010 at our meeting in Woodford. It considers how the

reconstruction of Belleek’s past can be made with relation to the marks on pieces and the difficulties that occur because of

assumptions that make up current thinking on the subject. In light of the discussion after the talk and with others it has been expanded

to consider relevant areas, which were not considered at the time as the talk was more related to parian production.

The previous section set out how back stamps and other printed or impressed marks on pieces could give an

indication of what was happening at the pottery. This concluding section looks at how the existing periods of

Belleek Pottery based on the logo is misleading when the timeline of the ownership of the pottery is considered.


Apprentice Pieces

There are just some times when we can get an exact date for production of individual piecessuch as ‘apprentice pieces’, as on an earthenware platter with the inscription, ‘Michael Stephens July 6th 1877’. All the ‘apprentice’ pieces I have seen have been on earthenware, but whether the whole piece was produced by the apprentice or some part of it is unclear. This allows an exact date for the earliest known production of the design and pattern of such pieces if there is no other evidence but of course it would have been produced for some time before the apprentices produced their special pieces. Note on this piece the impressed date mark for week of production in the top right corner is in March 1877 and this ties in very neatly with the inscription of ‘July 6th 1877’, although this is nearly four months later. Perhaps the

production of a special piece at the end of training is a tradition that could be revived at the present day pottery.



The apprentice piece mark on the earthenware platter, above .


Where there are no marks

We need to be careful of pieces which are unmarked for they can be from other potteries. The Coalisland

pottery is well known for producing pieces which are copies from Belleek. When these are unmarked it is only

the standard of quality that can guide us but this is not infallible. We should not assume an unmarked piece is

Belleek just because it looks like Belleek.

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UK Belleek Collectors’ Group Newsletter 32/2 July 2011





Destroying information on time

One of the problems that destroys the gathering of information is when backstamps are rubbed off. There have

been forgeries and they are a real nuisance. However it has been suggested that if you can wash off or rub off

printed marks then they must be fakes. This is not the case. It is suggested that all genuine marks are under

glaze and therefore cannot be rubbed off but the pottery did not always glaze the bases of pieces well and so not

all the backstamps are not under the glaze and can be very easily rubbed off. The advice is that unless you are

absolutely certain a mark is a fake, do not touch it and certainly do not rub them off.


Misleading information that confuses retracing time in Belleek production


(a) The ‘Harp’ and ‘Harp and Crown’ impressed mark on earthenware


Earthenware was one of the first types of production at Belleek but it is not until these marks are used that

earthenware gains its own specific marks.

The ‘Harp’ mark could be impressed or printed and we know from Armstrong’s diaries of 11th August 1864

that the ‘Harp only’ mark was impressed on each article made with the formula for a Common Printing Body.

Armstrong writes on 11th August 1864 with the title ‘Printing Body’, ‘Same mixture exactly....this batch I

propose to keep separate and have it called Harp Body’-. The next page for 15th August is titled, ‘My best

body’. Then on 2nd September he writes, ‘....this Body to be Impressed with a “Harp” – Harp Body.’

Throughout the rest of 1864 he made trials with this body. However it becomes quite confusing as he uses the

terms, ‘Printing body’, ‘Harp Body’ and ‘Best Body’ and it would seem that ‘Harp Body’ and ‘Best Body’

could almost be interchangeable other than it is improvements on the original mixtures that he is making.

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