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The beginnings of glass making in Ireland are lost in the mists of time, but there is sufficient archaeological evidence to show that, from the early Iron Age, glass was regarded with respect. Indeed, medieval documents can prove glass making existed in Ireland back in the middle 13th century.
The company of Waterford was first established in 1783 on land adjacent to Merchants' Quay in the heart of the Irish harbour town of Waterford, just minutes from the present day House of Waterford Crystal. Its founders were brothers, William and George Penrose, important developers and principal exporters in the city. Their vision was to "create the finest quality crystal for drinking vessels and objects of beauty for the home." More than two hundred years later, the reputation they established for creating glass of unsurpassed beauty and quality has transcended the intervening centuries.
First Glass Making Factory
The Penrose brothers opened the first glassmaking factory in Waterford in 1783, where their work was immediately recognized for its clarity and purity of color. They enjoyed success well into the 1800s. However, after 70 years of operating, the Penrose brothers' glass making factory fell victim to a turn of events that echo today’s business woes -- in 1853, the company fell victim to a lack of capitalization, and was sadly forced to close.
Post World War II Resurgence
After a period of dormancy, the Waterford story resumes in 1947, when glassmaker Kael Bacik hired fellow Czech Miroslav Havel as Chief Designer for his fledgling glassmaking operation in Ireland. Havel spent many hours at the National Museum of Ireland studying surviving examples of the Penrose brothers’ crystal from the 18th and 19th centuries. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company, and it is from these designs in 1952 that Havel created the now iconic Lismore , which remains the world’s best-selling crystal pattern.
Waterford Crystal today maintains very strong links with its illustrious predecessors. There is the same dedication to purity of color, design inspiration and highest quality levels: core values carried over and maintained from the company’s earliest beginnings.
A Vast Portfolio
Since it's humble beginnings, Waterford has exponentially expanded its offerings beyond traditional stemware to embrace and complete the luxury lifestyle experience. Today, Waterford brand products include: Stemware and Barware , Fine China & Flatware , Vases , Bowls & Centerpieces , Collectibles , Lighting , Chandeliers , Wedding and Anniversary Gifts , Paperweights , and Holiday Ornaments and Gifts .
Waterford has also formed collaborations and partnerships with leading designers in the world of fashion and luxury living to create a unique range of dining and home décor originals. These creative pairings with Waterford include the works of Monique Lhuillier , John Rocha , Jo Sampson , Jeff Leatham , Billy Canning, Jasper Conran and Robert Mondavi.
In the Heart of Waterford City
Waterford’s own House of Waterford Crystal Design Studio , in the heart of Waterford City, Ireland, is where the magnificent Waterford trophies, sculptures and presentation pieces are born. Under the guidance of Chief Designer John Connolly and the legacy of the late Jim O'Leary , a team of in-house imagineers craft such crystal marvels as the PGA Tour of America trophy, the People’s Choice Award, and the intricate panels of the Waterford Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball.
Most recently, Waterford launched Waterford Interiors , a premier home decor portfolio, which includes the work of internationally acclaimed designers Jo Sampson , John Rocha , and Billy Canning in an extensive range of innovative pieces from sleek console tables and dramatic floor mirrors to bespoke chandeliers and lighting designed for glamorous living.