Waterford crystal has a fine reputation. The company was started in 1783 by George and William Penrose when the brothers began manufacturing crystal in Waterford, Ireland. The product is noted for its purity of color and is highly prized.
The company was forced to close in 1851 because of financial problems and excessive taxation. However, its reputation was such that the company was revived in 1948 with the opening of a new factory. This was started by Czech immigrant Charles Bacik. Manufacture reached its zenith in the mid 19th century. After various changes of ownership, Waterford Wedgwood went into receivership early in 2009 and the factory was shut down.
Pieces are now manufactured in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany where the cutting is done by highly skilled craftsmen. It is expected that a new factory will open in Ireland in 2014. The brand is recognized as producing some very fine crystal.
One of the company's more renowned works are the chandeliers in Westminster Abbey. Similar items are seen in Windsor Castle and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The New Year's Eve Ball, dropped each year in Times Square, New York City, is made up of 2,668 crystals. This event draws many spectators.
Many of the lead crystal stemware patterns are extremely intricate. These patterns include the Lismore, Adare, Maeve, Kincora, Tramore and Shannon. Every piece is blown by mouth and hand cut. The cuts are heavy and angular. Pieces can now be identified by the presence of an emblem, which is usually etched on the underneath of the piece.
Traditionally three etchings are used. The first was the name in Gothic Style print and about an inch long. It was used from 1950 to 1999. The next was smaller, in script and mostly used on large pieces. It was introduced in 1986, the same year that Waterford Wedgwood was formed. Complementary fine china tableware, produced by the Wedgwood company, was offered during this period. In 1999, the name was again displayed, this time teamed with a design of a seahorse. Older places may have a gold, round sticker.
It is always difficult to state categorically that a piece is a fake. However if a piece is not catalogued but bears the Waterford mark, it is an imitation. If a genuine item is compared with a copy of the same piece, the angles of the cuts will be different. Even if the color has been reproduced very well, angles and depths of cut will show considerable variation. A too-obvious maker's signature indicates a fake as does, usually, the absence of an acid-etched mark.
A number of sporting trophies have been crafted over the centuries. Each year, a new Christmas tree ornament is released. A new version of previous ornaments may also be produced. These limited edition pieces are highly sought by collectors and others. Snowflakes and angels are two lines that have been released in a number of versions. Many people collect and treasure Waterford crystal pieces. Decorative vases, barware, giftware, goblets and decanters all have wide appeal as corporate gifts.
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Article Added on Monday, May 5, 2014
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