The Registered Designs of Belleek Pottery


By Brian Russell


Published by The UK Belleek Collectors Group

Chris Marvell

First published: May 2003, updated September 2006

belleek 000a dublin medal.jpg (91593 bytes)  belleek 000b dublin medal reverse.jpg (52824 bytes)

Introductory Text

Table of Belleek Registered Designs

Closing Comments

How to decode Registration Diamonds

Examples of decoding Belleek Registration Diamonds

Go to Belleek UK Collectors' Group Home Page on the Internet


The Belleek Registration of Design from 1868-84

brian.jpg (115797 bytes)     


       Brian Russell,

         presenting this information to the UK Group,

         Cornwall, April 2003.


Belleek commenced to register their designs as a means of protection against copying by their competitors in 1868.  The designs and the process they used made their products unique so this was a good way of gaining this protection.  When Wm. Bromley began at the Pottery in 1863 along with 17 other skilled Potters, production started to change from being earthenware based to the beginning of high quality parian ware.  In spite of this, earthenware remained the mainstay of the factory and it appears that Belleek did not use the design registration process to protect this production until much later (1877).

belleek 000c letterhead.jpg (529899 bytes) Letterhead of the Belleek Pottery, circa 1879.

What started me looking into the Belleek designs, was one day looking at a book on antiques marks called “A handbook of Pottery & Porcelain Marks”.  Seeing all those registration numbers that companies, including Belleek, had obtained, started me thinking: what do these numbers mean? ... also, which pieces do the numbers represent?

So I started my research: first looking at my local library - no good, so I kept on: my next port of call was to telephone the British Library, and they suggested I try elsewhere... the Public Records Office at Kew in London.  So off I went, with Patricia in tow, to Kew... and there, for all to see, was what I was looking for: the original Belleek drawings sent in to be registered by the Pottery all those years ago.

To actually see these drawings, you must first book yourself in and become a "Reader"; then going to the second floor, you obtain a pager, this is so that when you have ordered, they can bleep you to collect your items.  So how to order your books?  You log yourself onto a computer with your ticket and then you order from the archives the book you require... but which book?  By knowing the registration number of the piece, you can look into the "Representations", these are under "BT", which stands for Board of Trade.  If we take (for example) the first item that the Pottery registered (No.221217/9), we know that it is in the pottery class  (class 4), so we can then look under the appropriate section, which happens to be section BT43/64-74. The Belleek registrations are spread through the eleven books, book 64 to 74,  amongst submissions by all the other manufacturers,  each book contains a very long series of the numbers.

Taking the first Belleek registration number(s), No.221217/9,  registered on 5th Sept 1868, as our starting point, we ordered our first book, BT43/68, and there, for all to see, were the original drawings that the pottery had sent to the Board of Trade all those years ago.  The three items were, No 221217 (Plate), 221218 (A Vase) and 221219 (A Vase), today we call these three items, Echinus Plate, Echinus Footed Bowl, and the Prince of Wales Ice Pail.  In that year, 1868, Belleek registered only one other item.

The next items we found were the drawings sent by Robert W. Armstrong his designs for the Echinus Dejeuner set registered on 20th Feb 1869 under No 227409.  The drawings carry his signature.  You can see from the drawings that Armstrong had been trained in Technical drawing.  The quality of the draughtsmanship is shown in his skill in presenting the drawings to the Board of Trade.

We must look deeper into what the Pottery was doing during this period and how they used the registration process.  We know the pottery was founded in 1857 and following this, the production was solely in earthenware, furthermore no items were registered until 1868 (registration was available to be used from 1842).  Why did they not use this method to protect the earthenware?  If we now think of the arrival of the potters from Goss Pottery, Stoke on Trent in 1863 and the skills in the use of Parian that they brought with them, we may now suppose that only then the Belleek Company (Armstrong himself?) felt it needed protection from copying.  Nothing was actually registered until 1868: the reasons for this are not clear and need more investigation.

It is now worth mentioning some of the people involved: if we look at the arrival of the 17 skilled potters in Belleek in 1863 (From Goss in Stoke on Trent) and the first Belleek design registration in 1868.  The five years in between could have been the time needed to train local craftspeople in the process of making Parian.  We know that William Bromley had the knowledge of how to make Parian from his time at Goss, and he remained until production was well underway at Belleek in 1868.  Mr. Ferran a Parian caster, also from Goss trained the first Belleek apprentice.  William Gallimore was the designer of many pieces.  Armstrong himself is stated as the designer of many registered pieces, by his signature on the submitted drawings (such as the Echinus dejeuner tray).  Other known Belleek designers such as Henshall (for Baskets & Flower making) are not formally credited, as these designs were never registered.  The legacy of these people is what makes Belleek today one of the finest producers of fine parian ware in the world.

 The registration process itself came from a number of Acts of Parliament that cover registration.  There are actually three Acts that cover design. The first is the act of 1839, the "Design Copy Act", this act protected designs for three years, next came the "Ornamental Design Act" in 1842, and lastly the  "Non Ornamental (useful) Design Act" of 1843.  These acts were brought in by the Government of the day largely to protect the Lancashire weaving industry but they were extended to cover other designs.  There are, in total, thirteen classes, starting with class one (Metal) and going up to class thirteen (Lace). The part of the act we are concerned with is class four, which became active on 22nd October 1842 and finished on 29th December 1883.  The numbers start from 1694 and continue up to 408849, these being the actual design registration numbers, allocated sequentially.  The actual drawings, photographs and descriptions sent to the Board of Trade are filed under these numbers.

- Patricia and Brian Russell


Table of the Designs registered by Belleek Pottery 1868-1884

in the following list, to obtain a detailed image of the actual registration document, just click on the thumbnail image

Reg. No.  Year Day Month Description when Registered Description Today Parcel No. Notes 
221217 1868 5th September A. Plate Echinus Plate 6 Original date 1st sept, no. 2 scratched out above no. 221218 drawings
belleek 012a echinus.jpg (112160 bytes) 
221218 1868 5th September A.Vase Echinus Footed Bowl 6  


belleek 012b mermaid vase.jpg (107915 bytes) belleek 012c mermaid bowl.jpg (130985 bytes) belleek 012d mermaid bowl.jpg (125220 bytes)
221219 1868 5th September A.Vase Prince of Wales Ice Pail 6  


belleek 015d2 prince ice pail.jpg (111873 bytes) belleek 015d3 prince ice pail.jpg (124745 bytes)
223309 1868 22nd October Tea-Breakfast service Artichoke Dejeuner set etc. 1  


belleek 015e1 artichoke.jpg (118418 bytes) belleek 015e2 artichoke.jpg (123510 bytes) belleek 015e3 artichoke1.jpg (112599 bytes) belleek 015e4 artichoke2.jpg (98629 bytes) belleek 015e5 artichoke.jpg (123372 bytes) belleek 015e6 artichoke3.jpg (118611 bytes) belleek 015e7 artichoke4.jpg (114459 bytes) belleek 015e8 artichoke5.jpg (111383 bytes) belleek 015e9 artichoke6.jpg (122132 bytes) belleek 015e9a artichoke7.jpg (111653 bytes) belleek 015e9b artichoke8.jpg (100793 bytes) belleek 015e9c artichoke pic.jpg (293175 bytes)
227409 1869 22nd February Tea- Breakfast service Echinus Dejeuner  set 1  


belleek 014a echinus.jpg (113831 bytes) belleek 014b echinus.jpg (100161 bytes) belleek 014c echinus.jpg (111011 bytes) belleek 014d echinus.jpg (90482 bytes) belleek 014e echinus.jpg (100258 bytes) belleek 014f echinus.jpg (106730 bytes)  belleek 015c echinus.jpg (115173 bytes) belleek 015d echinus.jpg (78343 bytes) 
229837 1869 3rd June Design for dejeuner tray Echinus  Tray 6 Dates on drawings 29th May 1869


belleek 013 echinus.jpg (93591 bytes) belleek 013a echinus.jpg (106121 bytes) belleek 014 echinus.jpg (105595 bytes)
234465 1869 14th October Spill pot Cleary Spill Pot 3  


belleek 401 cleary spill.jpg (1133229 bytes) 
235168 1869 27th October Egg Holder Egg Holder - "Egg floating on waves" 5  


belleek 400 eggholder.jpg (1276522 bytes)
235827 1869 8th November Design for Flower Vase Marine Vase 1 Original date may be 6th


belleek 015f1 shell vase.jpg (120814 bytes)  
235828 1869 8th November Design for Water lily Vase Water lily Vase 1 Original date 5th


belleek 015g water lily vase.jpg (108740 bytes) belleek 015h water lily vase pic.jpg (149061 bytes)
235829 1869 8th November Design for Flying Fish Vase Flying Fish Vase 1  


belleek 017 flying fish.jpg (91422 bytes) belleek 017a flying fish.jpg (94103 bytes)
236184 1869 13th November Design for Trinket Box Jack-at-sea 5 Original date 10th


belleek 017c jack at sea.jpg (95617 bytes) 
236185 1869 13th November Design for  Trinket Box Jack-on-shore 5  


belleek 017b jack on shore.jpg (108154 bytes)
236585 1869 23rd November Stilton cheese stand Papal Tiara cheese stand 5 Original date 18th


belleek 018 papal cheese dish.jpg (102223 bytes) belleek 019 papal cheese dish.jpg (107123 bytes)
237230 1869 18th December  Design for Table jug Harp Jug 3 Original date 16th


belleek 021 harp jug.jpg (108504 bytes) belleek 022 harp jug.jpg (91515 bytes)
239610 1870 17th March Winged Fish & Water   4  


belleek 025 fish spill.jpg (91647 bytes) belleek 025a fish spill.jpg (103635 bytes)
239611 1870 17th March Dolphin Shell Dolphin on harp shell on waves 4  


belleek 257 fish vase.jpg (97332 bytes) 
241264 1870 6th May Ribbon Pattern Same 5  


The original filing for this design was undergoing conservation by the National Archives at the time we attempted to obtain it.  The drawing and details will be added at a later date.
241265 1870 6th May Harts Tongue Fern Harts Tongue Flower pot 5  


belleek 026 fern jardiniere.jpg (94918 bytes) belleek 027 fern jardiniere.jpg (114047 bytes) 
247248 1870 12th November Marine Subject Institute Tea Ware 3  


belleek 036 institute2.jpg (120151 bytes) belleek 036a institute.jpg (94695 bytes) belleek 037 institute3.jpg (118941 bytes) belleek 038 institute4.jpg (86192 bytes)  
249388 1871 9th January The Tridacna Species Tridacna Tea Set 4  


belleek 028 tridacna.jpg (92696 bytes) belleek 028a tridacna.jpg (96955 bytes) belleek 028b tridacna.jpg (110586 bytes) belleek 028c tridacna.jpg (113702 bytes) 
249389 1871 9th January Flat Ware Institute Plate  4  


belleek 038a institute.jpg (93224 bytes) belleek 039 institute5.jpg (93367 bytes) 
249390 1871 9th January Not Named Institute Dish 4  


belleek 039a institute.jpg (103569 bytes) belleek 040 institute6.jpg (91135 bytes) 
249391 1871 9th January Not Named Institute Covered Sugar  4  


belleek 040a institute.jpg (102395 bytes) belleek 041 institute7.jpg (108392 bytes) 
249392 1971 9th January Not Named Institute Bowl  4  


belleek 041a institute.jpg (115726 bytes) 
249393 1871 9th January Not Named Institute Butter Tub and underplate 4  


belleek 043 institute9.jpg (113370 bytes) belleek 043a institute pic.jpg (188087 bytes)
249479 1871 12th January A Jug Mask Jug with Leaf Handle 7  


belleek 044 mask jug.jpg (84494 bytes) belleek 044a mask jug.jpg (93034 bytes) 
250168 1871 6th February Not Named Honey Pot Stand & Cover 5  


belleek 045 beehive.jpg (98424 bytes) belleek 045a beehive.jpg (113686 bytes)
250169 1871 6th February Not Named Seaweed & Shell design for plate (Institute Pattern) 5  


belleek 034a institute.jpg (97015 bytes) belleek 035 institute1.jpg (96482 bytes)  
250170 1871 6th February Not Named Institute Pattern Covered Dish 5  


belleek 049a covered dish.jpg (113176 bytes) 
250171 1871 6th February Not Named Institute Pattern large oval Covered Dish  5  


belleek 049 covered dishes.jpg (108421 bytes) 
251453 1871 4th April Not Named Shells/Seaweed design for plate borders 4  


belleek 046 marine decoration.jpg (99141 bytes) belleek 047 marine decoration.jpg (118337 bytes) belleek 047a marine decoration.jpg (112701 bytes)
252709 1871 22nd May Not Named Flower Troughs of scallop shells and coral 9  


belleek 050 shell plateau.jpg (99425 bytes) belleek 050a shell plateau pic.jpg (353388 bytes)
256598 1871 11th October Not Named Celery vase 4  


belleek 051 celery vase.jpg (119274 bytes) belleek 051a celery vase pic.jpg (187682 bytes) belleek 051b celery vase mark.jpg (128867 bytes)
256689 1871 14th October Not Named Boy and Swan Comport 8  


belleek 089 boy and swan.jpg (100682 bytes) belleek 090 boy and swan.jpg (116480 bytes)
258816 1871 16th December Not Named Table Fountain 7  


belleek 300 fountain.jpg (101827 bytes) belleek 403 table fountain2.jpg (540547 bytes) belleek 402 table fountain.jpg (999429 bytes)
259264 1872 5th January Not Named Minstrel comport 3  


belleek 131 minstrel comport.jpg (81286 bytes) belleek 131a minstrel comport.jpg (106145 bytes)
260503 1872 16th February Not Named Chinese Tea Urn (not on stand) 6  


belleek 153 chinese tea urn.jpg (88743 bytes) belleek 154 chinese tea urn.jpg (86030 bytes) 
261016 1872 9th March Not Named Chinese Tea Urn on stand 1  


belleek 150 chinese tea urn.jpg (98478 bytes) belleek 151.jpg (91171 bytes) belleek 152 chinese tea urn.jpg (79393 bytes) 
265666 1872 2nd September Ornamentation based on "The Onion" Onion spill vase 3  


belleek 155 onion spill.jpg (71984 bytes) belleek 155a onion spill pic.jpg (238136 bytes)
274704 1873 28th July Not Named Light house night light 3  


belleek 156 lighthouse.jpg (64661 bytes) belleek 156b lighthouse.jpg (89989 bytes)
280853 1874 2nd March Not Named The egg cup holder or "Egg Frame" with egg cups - see note below. 1 Previously wrongly described as "Grass Tea Ware"


belleek 404 egg frame.jpg (1088145 bytes) 
307525 1877 5th February Not Named Design for ornamentation 2  


belleek 206.jpg (110603 bytes) belleek 405 ornamentation.jpg (1368718 bytes)
307526 1877 5th February Not Named Design for a jug and bowl 2 Previously wrongly described as "Thorn pattern earthenware jug and bowl"

(note that the original is on old tracing paper and is in poor condition)

belleek 406 jug and bowl.jpg (1029929 bytes)
307527 1877 5th February Not Named Another design for a Basin & Ewer  2 (note that the original is on old tracing paper and is in poor condition)


belleek 407 jug and bowl.jpg (986174 bytes) 
312421 1877 31st July Not Named Design of spray Hawthorne & Bird. 1  


belleek 408 ornamentation.jpg (1300789 bytes) 
320373 1878 13th April Not Named Freemason's Plate 9 Three images supplied to show detail and minimize reflections from shiny tracing paper used.


belleek 409 freemasons plate.jpg (1133946 bytes) belleek 410 freemasons plate2.jpg (1105318 bytes) belleek 411 freemasons plate3.jpg (1135066 bytes)
320793 1878 27th April Not Named Thorn Tea set 12  


belleek 166 thorn.jpg (107616 bytes) belleek 167 thorn.jpg (90691 bytes) belleek 168 thorn.jpg (97223 bytes) belleek 169 thorn.jpg (102380 bytes) belleek 170 thorn.jpg (115655 bytes) 
322477 1878 13th June Not Named Thorn Tray 3  


belleek 175 thorn.jpg (91679 bytes) belleek 177 thorn detail1.jpg (95153 bytes) belleek 178 thorn tray.jpg (107231 bytes) 
332296 1879 17th February Not Named Amphora Oil Lamp Base (Oil container) 6  


belleek 203 amphora vase.jpg (95466 bytes) belleek 412 amphora.jpg (1037329 bytes)
335744 1879 30th May Not Named Wash Basin 3  


belleek 325 sink.jpg (97754 bytes) belleek 413 sink.jpg (1102206 bytes)
338559 1879 22nd August Not Named Border Pattern 4  


belleek 330.jpg (117827 bytes) 
366634 1881 2nd July Not Named Lace pattern plate 1  


belleek 414 lace pattern.jpg (954262 bytes) belleek 415 lace pattern2.jpg (1072910 bytes)
367516 1881 28th July Not Named Shell & coral border 3 Last application made by the Pottery for a "Diamond Mark"
belleek 416 shell border.jpg (1275245 bytes) 


Some of the items, as found in the Registration Books, have some element of doubt or uncertainty associated with them.

belleek 321 teapot.jpg (91260 bytes) This teapot, Registered as No. 322476, is apparently accompanied by the usual "McBirney and Co...." text but it does not appear to be typical of any known Belleek production.  It is possible that the text actually referred to the next design in the book, Regd. No. 322477, the Thorn Tray.

belleek 258a egg cup holder.jpg (89571 bytes) This is a well-known Belleek piece, the Egg Cup Holder (or Egg Cup Frame) with six Egg Cups.  This item should not be confused with the "Egg Holder", Registration No. 235168, 18th October 1869.  The Egg Cup Holder is clearly marked with the number 280853 which was previously (wrongly) listed as the "Grass Tea Set".  It appears that this was a mistake in the listing:  Reg. 280835 is the Egg Frame, not the Grass Tea Set.

belleek 300 fountain.jpg (101827 bytes) This item, described as a "Table Fountain" (Regd. No. 258816) is a spectacular but so far unrecorded item of Belleek.  It may never have been put into production.  On the registration submission, the drawing is a sketch only.

REGISTERED MARKS - from 1842 to 1883







Shown above are the two patterns of Design Registration Marks which were used between 1842 and 1883. The left hand diamond was used 1842-1867 and the right hand 1868-1883.




Year Letters:

X = 1868, H - 1869, C = 1870,
A = 1871, I = 1872, F = 1873,
U = 1874, S = 1875, V = 1876,
P = 1877, D = 1878, Y = 1879,
J - 1880, E = 1881, L = 1882,
K = 1883 

Month Letters:

January = C February = G
March = W April = H
May = E June = M
July = I August = R
September = D October = B
November = K December = A








For example, this large size Belleek Chinese teapot has the following registration:


IV     Class 4 for Ceramics

16     day of month

I       year = 1872

G       month = February

      parcel number


If you look this up in the table given in this article, it is registration number 260503 – A “Chinese Tea Urn – Not on Stand” which is confusing as this is clearly a single-spouted teapot!  It appears that Belleek lumped a whole lot of Chinese ware together under this registration number.

This example of a large earthenware ewer is even clearer:


IV         Class 4 for Ceramics

5          day of month 

P          year = 1877

G          month = February

2          parcel number



This is listed as number 307526 – a “Basin and Jug” – this is obviously just the Jug!  There also exists a potty in this design, which was not included in their original description but has the same registration diamond. Please note that the number 295 under the printed first period mark has nothing to do with the design registration, this number signifies the type of decoration used on the piece (pale blue and gilt): for more information on these numbers, refer to Bev Marvell's article on Belleek painted numbers.

The text written here “Robt. W Armstrong invenit  - Rose Isle – Belleek – Octr. 1868” sums up the historical significance of this registration information – here we have, in Armstrong’s own hand, his claim to this design – and his address!


Brian Russell has also done extensive research on Robert Williams Armstrong's family tree, including finding some living descendents of the Great Man.  For this research, please go to Brian Russell's Armstrong Family Tree Research.










At the end of the presentation, here we have Jan making a presentation of his own to Brian – the talk was extremely well received.