In 1783, brothers George and William Penrose established Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland. They did not know anything about glass manufacturing, but they did see economic opportunity—demand was high for plain and decorative flint glass, and the supply was low in England, thanks to debilitating glass excise duties that did not apply to Ireland.
The Penrose brothers hoped to created crystal “as fine a quality as any in Europe… in the most elegant style.” To accomplish that goal, they brought in Quaker glassmaker John Hill, who supervised Waterford’s 50 to 70 employees for about three years. When he left, Hill gave the company’s glass formula to a clerk named Jonathan Gatchell. After William Penrose left the company around the turn of the century, Gatchell took over Waterford, along with two local families, the Ramseys and the Barcrofts.
Waterford blossomed in the early part of the 19th century—King George III ordered Waterford Crystal for his vacation residence. Waterford flint glass had become famous for its di...
The company produced a wide array of table and ornamental cut glass, including claret and water jugs, glassware from wine glasses to goblets, bowls, candlesticks, dishes, chandeliers, and, of course, their famous decanters. These decanters featured three rings around their necks, with a mushroom-shaped stopper. One of the most collectible Waterford pieces today is the so-called apprentice bowl. At the end of his Waterford apprenticeship, the former student would carve a bowl that featured every kind of cut found in the entire Waterford line.
After Gatchell died in 1825, Waterford’s growth began to slow. Waterford submitted a hugely successful entry to the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, but heavy British taxes on glass put the company out of business that same year.
In 1947, a small group of workers restarted Waterford as part of a renewed desire for Irish art driven by the independence movement. The new Waterford began with the old company’s designs and expanded from there. The perennially popular Lismore pattern was introduced in 1952, along with Alana, Carina, and Araglin, to name just a few.
In 1986, Waterford merged with Wedgwood, and the company has continued to enjoy a sterling reputation for quality. In fact, the world-famous Times Square New Year’s Eve ball has been decorated with Waterford Crystal triangles since the ball was redesigned in 2000.
Interviews & Articles
My mother was our inspiration for collecting pattern glass. She collected it, and she died at a very young age. My sister and I in… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Pattern Glass School
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Top eBay Auctions
Recent News: Waterford Glass
Source: Google News
Meeting of former Waterford Crystal workersWaterford Today, June 19th
"Our members cannot understand why the Government wants to continue imposing more hardship on a group of workers who have contributed vast amounts of tax to the Exchequer since the foundation of Waterford Glass in 1950. The workers have ...Read more
Irish pensions reform 'inevitable' after Waterford Crystal rulingIPE.com (registration), June 18th
"And, in terms of their response to the Waterford Glass decision, there's an inevitability as to what they have to do." He also spoke of the need to postpone the looming deadline to submit funding proposals to the Pensions Board – due at the end of the...Read more
Irish Pensions: Burton refuses to rule out new raid on private pension fundsFinFacts Ireland, June 17th
Last April, the European Court of Justice ruled against the Irish Government in a case concerning pension entitlements, that was brought by former workers of Waterford Glass and Burton was asked on Monday about the implications for the compensation of ...Read more
Sometimes less is more, JoanIrish Independent, June 17th
"Well the Waterford Glass [sic] case is a landmark judgment and the workers and applicants won their case fairly comprehensively in terms of the judgment handed down by the European Court. "It has now gone back to Irish court. My department and myself ...Read more
Did you know? John F Kennedy factfileIrish Independent, June 14th
Gifts presented to President Kennedy during his trip to Ireland in June, 1963 included a Waterford glass bowl with engravings representing the 'Kennedy story', from the New Ross Harbour Commissioners, and a replica of the Great Mace of Galway, from the ...Read more
O'Brien can't be worse than O'ReillyVillage, June 2nd
But in the last four years when the value of his personal stake in Independent News and Media alone fell from just under €900m to a current €16m, and when his investment in Waterford Glass crashed into smithereens, the papers have been oddly mute about ...Read more