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 distinctive shade of gray, a color caused by sand imported from the King’s Lynn region used in Waterford’s glass recipe.
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.
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Parents of America: This holiday season, stop asking young people about their ...Quartz, November 24th
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Americans are gearing up for their favorite traditions: Turkey Trots, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casseroles, annual viewings of A Muppet Christmas Carol–and, of course, dodging questions about the future...Read more
Lady Chryss and Sir Anthony still have fortune despite his bankruptcyIrish Independent, November 21st
Chryss's brother Peter became a major investor in Waterford Glass when the company was purchased by Tony O'Reilly. Despite her position as a non-executive director of the company, it was to prove a disastrous venture, particularly for Peter, who...Read more
Ivan Morris Column - Sadness at passing of John CassidyLimerick Leader, November 15th
In the same year, he was also consigned to second place by Norman Drew, the first man ever to play in both, Walker and Ryder Cups, when the Bangor man chipped into the hole from an awkward spot off the green in the lucrative Waterford Glass Trophy...Read more
'Lugs' documentary review: 'beautifully produced, richly researched doc showed ...Irish Independent, November 10th
On his final night on the job, they surprised him with gifts of Waterford Glass and a silver cutlery set, having lured him to Burlington Road with a prank 999 call about a non-existent disturbance. “He's entered the folk memory of the city,” said...Read more
Achonry job losses a blow to South SligoSligo Champion, November 9th
"The Connacht Gold spread is now going to be produced in Cork and this is a bit like Waterford Glass being made in Poland instead of in Waterford." Councillor Jerry Lundy says the news is a big blow to South Sligo. "This latest bad news comes hot on...Read more
"Neary was drooling like a starving dog with a steak as he removed my womb"Sunday World, November 4th
“Peter thanked him profusely, and later went into Drogheda to buy him a piece of Waterford Glass as a token of gratitude for saving our lives.” Kathleen, perhaps due to her medical background, became suspicious when her baby showed no signs of distress...Read more
Waterford Crystal workers to receive €182m compensation over pensionsRTE.ie, July 31st
Waterford Crystal workers are to receive €182m in compensation for losses to their pension scheme after the company and its pension scheme went into insolvency. The High Court formally approved the closing of the Waterford Crystal pension case and ...Read more
Cabinet signs-off on €178m Waterford Crystal pension dealIrish Independent, December 9th
Waterford Glass and Crystal was the iconic industry in the South East. This double insolvency has been relatively rare. When the case was taken, it was in the context of Ireland being in breach of a directive in relation to insolvency," she said. "The...Read more