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20th Dec 2016

17 Random Facts About The World Famous Waterford Crystal


If there’s something we Irish are told on repeat growing up it’s “Don’t touch the good Waterford Crystal”. We wouldn’t dare have contact with our parents’ precious crystal. It’s a luxury house accessory (that usually gathers dust on the top shelf) that’s given as a fancy wedding gift or won down the local football club and is only ever taken out to decorate the dinner table once a year at Christmas. They’ve had their financial ups and downs as a brand over the years but it certainly hasn’t effected their premium reputation. So here are 17 random facts about the world famous Waterford Crystal:

1. Waterford Crystal dates back to the late 18th century

Brothers William and George Penrose began their business in Waterford in 1783 and produced the extremely fine flint glass that has become world famous. However the company closed in 1851 due to lack of capital and excessive taxation.


2. A Waterford Crystal bowl is Irish politicians’ go-to gift every year on Paddy’s Day

Waterford bowls with a bunch of shamrocks are given to U.S. presidents each year in Washington. The bowl of shamrock for Paddy’s Day cost €300 ($413) when presented by Kenny to President Obama back in 2012. However, the value was a whopping €714.93 ($983) when it was presented by Ahern in 2008 to President George W. Bush.


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3. Vladimir Putin of Russia owns Waterford Crystal

He received a Waterford Crystal bowl without the shamrock worth €327.71 ($450) back in 2003.

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4. Most Waterford Crystal is now produced outside of Ireland

Since 2010 most of the glass has been produced in Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany. They employ over 3,700 people worldwide.


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5. There’s a special method of identifying Waterford Crystal

There’s a hidden ‘acid stamp’ in Gothic type font on the crystal that you have to clean in hot soapy water to find. Also any crystal produced from 1999 comes with a millennium stamp with their trademark seahorse design on it.


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6. They sponsor The Times Square Ball (1999-present)

They’ve been designing the famous “drop” ball that’s used during the New Year’s Eve celebrations since 1999. The ball weighs over half a ton.

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7. There’s lead in the crystal

The crystal can contain up to 33% lead. Adding lead to the glass makes it much softer and more pliable. And it’s this pliability that allows them to carve such stunning intricate designs into their glass.


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8. A Czech actually came up with the “Lismore” design

The “Lismore” is the first ever Waterford Crystal design. Miroslav Havel, a Czech, came up with it back in 1947 when the company was revived.

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9. The chandeliers in Westminster Abbey are Waterford Crystal

In 1966, Waterford Crystal chandeliers were installed in Westminster Abbey, London, for the 900th anniversary dedication of the church. The Guinness family actually paid for them. Other Waterford Crystal chandeliers also hang in Windsor Castle and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Madness.


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Westminster Abbey Interior

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10. They’re a popular choice for trophies at global events

Waterford Crystal also make a lot of trophies. They feature at The French and German Grand Prix Formula One, the Tennis Master Series, the Volvo Ocean Challenge and even the People’s Choice Awards, among others. The National College Football Championship commission WC to make their trophy that reportedly cost over $30,000 and several months to produce.


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11. Waterford is owned by WWRD Holdings

The American owned WWRD took control of Waterford Crystal in 2010. WWRD make and distribute many well-known brands such as Royal Doulton, Wedgewood and Royal Albert.

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12. They have a “Mad Men” collection

They’ve just released these epic old fashioned tumblers, decanters and hiballs in a licensing deal with Lionsgate who produce the popular series “Mad Men”.


13. Top designers and notable names want to be associated with them

Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, John Rocha, Jasper Conran, Jo Sampson and Gordon Ramsay have all had their own collections with various WWRD brands.


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14. There’s actually an American football helmet made from Waterford Crystal

The Croke Park Classic was held in August 2014 and featured the University of Central Florida (UCF) against Penn State in their Season Opener in the GAA Headquarters – Croke Park in Dublin. Waterford Crystal designed a special mouth-blown crystal helmet that was presented at the end of the game.


15. There’s a visitors centre and factory… in Waterford

The new House of Waterford Crystal was opened in June 2010 under the new owners WWRD and has had over 250,000 national and international visitors through its doors since. The manufacturing facility melts down more than 750 tonnes of crystal and produces more than 45,000 pieces each year using traditional methods. They also have the largest crystal collection in the world here.


16. They produced a 9/11 commemorative piece

The 9/11 Waterford Crystal Sculpture was created at the Waterford Crystal factory as a memorial to the 343 New York City Fire Department members who lost their lives on 9/11. It took over 200 hours to complete and is worth over $75,000. The scuplture was presented to the Fire Dept of NYC in 2007.


17. The oldest piece of surviving Waterford Crystal dates back to 1789

A decanter made in 1789 has the wide pouring lip common to most Penrose decanters and a three-ring neck. The words ‘Penrose Waterford’ are moulded on the base. This can be found in Bishop’s Palace in Waterford itself.

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