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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Recent News: Waterford Glass
Source: Google News
This Glass City's Future PotentialMunster Express, October 6th
Kilkenny has its wonderful design centre, so surely the time is right for the creation of Waterford's glass centre. A year on from Waterford Crystal taking on trainees for the first time since 1986 (and we've more on their successes, also on News 8...Read more
Anne Harris: History will judge O'Reilly as a man of principleIrish Times, October 2nd
And most of the reviewers of Cooper's book are unable to bring themselves to salute his titanic – and tragic – efforts to save Waterford Glass and its workers. From his rugby comeback days, he is well aware that gratitude is the most difficult of emotions...Read more
Rise and fall of a plutocratIrish Independent, September 20th
The best parts of this book are the opening scene-setting chapters and the harrowing descriptions of it all falling apart as the legendary O'Reilly charm fails to persuade a reluctant government to guarantee a loan to save Waterford Glass, and fails to...Read more
The Maximalist review: how Tony O'Reilly maxed out on a luxury gambitIrish Times, September 18th
a phenomenon that became common years after he had jetted into the corporate stratosphere. People like me, who had long ago packed away our bits of Waterford Glass, sat back, astonished, at O'Reilly's determination to pour millions into products...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
Waterford Wedgwood sold to Finnish heritage brandTelegraph.co.uk, May 11th
The Wedgwood fortune also funded the scientific career of Charles Darwin who married into the family. Wedgwood joined forces with Ireland's Waterford Glass Group in 1986. This blue and white jasper plaque features the Birth of the Roman god Bacchus...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
European court rules in favour of Waterford Crystal workers in pension caseRTE.ie, April 24th
Unite Regional Secretary and former Waterford Glass employee Jimmy Kelly said it is a great day for former Waterford Crystal workers and for others who lost their pensions in similar situations. Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Pat Kenny, Mr Kelly said the ...Read more