Belleek Pottery unveils most expensive piece ever today

An elaborate parian china centrepiece created for the Paris Exhibition of 1900 has been reproduced by the craftsmen at Belleek Pottery and is to go on sale at a price of £75,000 making it the most expensive item ever to be produced commercially by the pottery.

An elaborate parian china centrepiece created for the Paris Exhibition of 1900 has been reproduced by the craftsmen at Belleek Pottery and is to go on sale at a price of £75,000 making it the most expensive item ever to be produced commercially by the pottery.

The new ‘International Centrepiece’ was unveiled by the Pottery today. Thursday, at 11am.

Reproduced using the original design moulds created by the Pottery’s then Head of Design Frederick Slater, the centrepiece has taken a handpicked team of Belleek’s most experienced craftspeople over a year to create and an estimated 400 individual craftsman hours.

A limited edition of five of the recreated International Centrepieces is to be released to mark this, the Pottery’s 155th Anniversary.

Standing over 30” inches high, the centrepiece is a three-footed urn with three Irish wolf hounds keeping guard around the base and is decorated with Irish harps and hand crafted flowers.

The complex reproduction project has been led by Belleek’s current Head of Design Fergus Cleary and has involved the making of new moulds and the creation of 50 separate pieces.

“I joined the Pottery in 1978 and for a long time I have wondered whether we could ever recreate such an intricate piece. The original International Centrepiece was created for the Paris Exhibition in 1900 to demonstrate the quality of the pottery’s craftsmanship and the piece unveiled today does likewise for our skills in 2012.

“We were lucky that the original moulds from 1900 had been retained in our store but they were unusable and had to be painstakingly reconstructed using the exact same skills originally employed to make the centrepiece over a hundred years ago.

“From there it really was a matter of professional pride for all of us involved to deliver a product of the quality and attention to detail that would be worthy of our forefathers. I believe that the centrepiece unveiled today exceeds our expectations,” said Fergus.

Anyone who has visited Belleek Pottery will recognise the original International Centrepiece. After the design and craftsmanship of the centrepiece was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition, the centrepiece was returned to the Pottery. Since 1989 it has been displayed in a secure glass case in the entrance area of the Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre.

Commenting on the decision to launch the limited edition of the International Centrepieces, John Maguire, Managing Director, Belleek Pottery Group said: “Everyone who visits the Pottery stops to look at the International Centrepiece and to marvel at the design detail and craftsmanship that was being produced by the company in the Victorian era. Fergus and his team took on a very significant challenge in trying to reproduce this piece and we are delighted with the results.

“I am confident that local and international collectors of Belleek will be interested in this limited edition. The grapevine amongst china collectors is very strong and even prior to today’s launch we have had approaches from potential purchasers,” he said.