Waterford Cut Glass Crystal. Made Where Now?

Waterford Glass Closed Down

The mismanagement, misdirection and general shenanigans that has befallen the craft workers of The Waterford Glass Company in Ireland is one for the record books.

The once mighty and well known brand has fallen on hard times... by design.

The collapse of the Waterford glass factory, is more curious than any fiction writer could invent. Indeed as is often the case. The truth is stranger than fiction.

How did it all go so wrong. An inside source tells all.

Glass-blowing in Waterford

Glass-blowing and cut glass crystal in Waterford was synonymous with quality.
Glass-blowing and cut glass crystal in Waterford was synonymous with quality. | Source

A Little History

They have been making crystal cut glass and glassware in Waterford since the 18th century.

(Founded 1783 by George and William Penrose)

There are still a few Waterford artisans keeping the hand made glass tradition alive.

The Waterford folk are proud of their glass making heritage and have benefited from a long period of sustained steady work.

Many families in Waterford had a member of their family either working directly for the factory on in supporting industries including packaging and transportation.

When the factory closed in 2009 the subsequent mass unemployment decimated the whole of Waterford and surrounding areas.

This is the problem of relying on one industry, and reflects the 3rd world status of the Irish Economy.

Glass Industry Flint Crystal

Although Ireland is just a few miles away from the mainland of the UK and Europe it may as well be a banana republic in the Caribbean sea.

Over the years the product range and materials used has changed. In the early days the Waterford glass workers produced flint crystal which was used for making optical lenses and high quality diamond simulants.

It was only many years later that the Waterford factory, developed the methods and design that they became world renowned for. The skills and techniques developed at the Waterford factory took many years to perfect and new glass-workers had to serve long apprenticeships.

The manufacture of these beautiful products must go through several stages and each stage requires different skills. Skills not easily acquired.

The first company closed in 1851 and it was not until almost a 100 year later that a Czech immigrant Charles Bacik opened the new company in1947.

Blowing-Glass

Waterford Crystal ?

Source

Waterford Glass from Slovenia!

Crystal Ball

Source

Reputation Worldwide

Waterford Crystal as a brand is associated with art glass, high end, quality products. So high quality in fact that it is used in some of the most prestigious buildings in the world and also for making top of the line sports trophies.

There is a wide variety of art and designs types including Adare, Alana, Colleen, Kincora, Lismore, Maeve, Tramore, and many others.

Below is a small selection of Waterford Crystal seen in a social context.

Chandeliers in Westminster Abbey to commemorate 900th anniversary of the Abbey.

Chandeliers hang in Windsor Castle, and the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.

The 2,668 Waterford crystals of the New Year's Eve Ball in New York City.

Sporting trophies. The Masters Series crystal shield for professional tennis.

The AFCA National Championship Trophy for US college football

The trophies for the French and German Grand Prix in Formula One.

Factory Closed

The end game for the Waterford factory has more twists and turns than a fancy crystal chandelier. To go into the full shenanigans, take my word for it, would make your head spin.

Suffice it to say that the Waterford glass workers gradually lost ground to the changing ideas of the owners (WWRD Holdings Ltd)

The global Financial the economic tidal wave, that was destroying the buying power of the US dollar; which accounted for almost 50% of sales. It was argued was the real culprit.

Added to the fact that tastes were changing and, there are only so many high end customers (Waterford crystal is not cheap) Eventually all of these factors lead to the closure of the plant and manufacturing being transferred to?... Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The workers did not take this lying down and fought a terrific rear guard action and managed to get a compensation package totaling 10 million Euro's.

For Waterford Glass it was a way out.

The curious thing is that under European Law many products can only be specifically named and sold if they come from a particular area or region. For example Champagne can only be called Champagne if it was made in the Champagne region.

Any other wine manufactured using the champagne method can only be called sparkling white wine. The same applies to many such products. Waterford crystal is still trading and being sold as "Waterford Glass".

There are a few craftsmen still producing small scale in Waterford and it keeps a few of them employed but the town has suffered massively from unemployment.

The irony is that Waterford glass was created as we have seen by the Czech immigrant Charles Bacik.

Bacik opened the company that we know today in 1947. And the fact that the glass is now manufactured in Czechoslovakia could be construed that it has returned to it's ancestral home.

But here's the thing. Czechoslovakian crystal just doesn't cut it in branding terms, or have the same ring to it; as Waterford Crystal.

Map of Waterford,Eire

A markerWaterford,Eire -
Waterford, Co. Waterford, Ireland
[get directions]

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Comments 60 comments

Dino 7 weeks ago

We received our first Lismore pattern Waterford when we married over 30 years ago. Added a few pieces at a time over the years. Imagine my surprise when we recently bought a couple more additions and noticed they were made in Slovenia... I'm done with Waterford.


molometer profile image

molometer 3 months ago Author

Hello Elizabeth, it is a big problem for sure. The only way is to be sure it's genuine is to know the provenance of the piece.


Elizabeth 5 months ago

The quality of REAL Waterford - pre 2009 (I bought mine in 1985) is superb, and surely will increase in value. I have one piece made in Slovenia which has the Waterford name engraved on the base, and the sea horse sticker. A tag attached when I bought the piece said "made in Slovenia). The tag tells it's a "forgery." Once the tag is gone, someone could rip off people by selling their crystal as "authentic Waterford.


molometer profile image

molometer 9 months ago Author

You are more than welcome. Glad to be of help.


adress in cz 9 months ago

Looking for the address in CZ factory that produce for Waterford...

Thanks


molometer profile image

molometer 11 months ago Author

Hi bubba caesar, It is possible to discover when and where the product was produced based on it's point of origin stamp. Alternatively buy antique examples.


bubba caesar 12 months ago

How can you tell if a piece was made in Ireland or pre 2009?


molometer profile image

molometer 20 months ago Author

Thank you Alynliese, it makes me laugh too when I think of the whole champagne/domestic issue.


Alynliese 21 months ago

Raw materials came from Czech/Poland/Slavic areas since flint use ceased. Some of the most exquisite, prismatic, and skillfully cut glassware has/does come from these areas. Miller Rogaska from former Yugoslavia is but one example. France boasts St. Louis and Baccarat, Germany and Austria have Reidel and Swarovski. I feel so badly about the mergers, outsourcing and cheapening of "Waterford", and lucky to have the real thing, signed and cut by artisans in Ireland. I love the analogy of Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine and how the French have been able to keep awareness of authenticity. I just chuckle under my breath when someone pops the cork on a California sparkling and calls it champagne- but those grape vines from Moet- Chandon travel well and thrive beautifully abroad. So we toast in our Irish flutes filled with domestic bubbles and hope that Waterford, Eire can once again reclaim its own.


molometer profile image

molometer 2 years ago Author

I totally agree with you Lady Guinevere. The relentless pursuit of profit and for ever cheaper and cheaper labour results in an inferior product.

Thats the way of the world.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

Sometimes change is not a good thing. If it ain't broke don't go trying to fix it.


molometer profile image

molometer 2 years ago Author

Hello Mary O,

I agree, it is a bit cheeky to claim such a prestigious brand when it isn't even made there anymore.

Didn't know about the Lenox issue. Shocking.


molometer profile image

molometer 2 years ago Author

Hi M.Rocki,

It is entirely possible that it was made in 'Slovenia'.

It certainly isn't made in Waterford, Ireland these days.


Mary O 2 years ago

I noticed a Made in Czechoslovakia sticker on the box and decided not to make the purchase. I will not be adding to my Waterford- it's ll me in Ireland and is about as old as I am, I was gifted a very large collection from my Aunt. Also, Lenox, fine china and glass is NOT all made in the USA. If you own vintage pieces your new Lenox will not match- the quality is not the same.


M.Rocki 2 years ago

I just received a Waterford eagle bit is made in Slovania , is that possible or is it a fake?


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago Author

Sorry Marlene, but I have no information on the glass you mentioned.

As it is made in several countries now, it could be from any of them.

I am not aware of their quality standards.


Marlene 3 years ago

I have a Marquis Quadro Waterford 10'' bowl. There are 3 of the cuts on the upper edge, touching the rim which are shorter than the rest. Does this mean the bowl is a second/reject? I always thought Waterford did not put flawed pieces on the market. Also, it is made in Poland and does not have th name Waterford etched anywhere on it.

Would be glad if you could leave a comment.

Thanks


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago Author

Hello Diabian,

Thanks for leaving your comments. I will certainly take a look at your hubs too.


Diabian profile image

Diabian 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this nice hub which i share with my friends and vote it useful , hope you do the same with my hubs


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago Author

Hello RWhitedeise,

I think it is a scandal of epic proportions. This really should come under the same EU regulations as Champagne does as I mentioned above.

It is not what it says it is on the packet.

In my humble opinion. Waterford Glass should come from Waterford.

There is always hope I guess as you say.

Good luck to you all.

Michael


RWhitedeise 3 years ago

Like so many of my colleagues the soreness of seeing The House of Waterford Crystal in our loved city as a representation of a truly fantastic place to be part of in its day saddens me so much. Dont get me wrong it was very clever of WWRD to open a showroom with a handfull of my former workmates and craftsmen to keep Waterford in Waterford, while re-producing the majority of it's products by outsourcing. The history speaks for itself and maybe one day once again the Phoenix will rise from the ashes. Nice piece molometer keep up the good work.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello Jean,

It is a shame that they are still using the Waterford name to sell just about anything.

It is rather shocking that something made in China can boast such an established trademark? It makes a mockery of the whole thing.

If you want to find some real Waterford glass, it is still being made there, but on a very small scale by local craftsmen and women.

Thanks for reading and leaving such an interesting comment.

China... what next?


jean 4 years ago

I did't know the factory had closed. I have been buying crystol on shopnbc on tv. Now they are selling stainless steel flatwear in waterfords name with the seahorse stamp and made in china stamped on the flatwear. Whats with that?


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hi Aurelio,

Yep it closed some time ago. Shame really.

There are a few crafts people still working in Waterford and producing a limited amount of glasswear. But the bulk of 'Waterford' glass is made elsewhere!

Outsourcing can go to far sometimes?


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I didn't even know they had closed the factory down, molometer, which is very sad. I've always admired these beautiful pieces and have considered them the height of luxury in drinking vessels. Voting this Up and Interesting and SHARED.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello F N Blunt,

I totally agree. I think they are taking a liberty with the public, and the brand name, by continuing to call it Waterford glass?

Thanks for reading and leaving your comment.


F N Blunt 4 years ago

All Irish crystal now made in Poland, Germany and Slovenia. The money people have put profit over quality. The European companies could not touch the quality of the Irish companies.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello malcolm k,

I really think you should look it up on eBay. Made in Poland? I don't know is the answer.


malcolm k 4 years ago

i have a large vase waterford made in poland and something with /m??//q/cant remeber sarts with the letter m and has a q in it , how much would it be worth some say over £200 and some say less


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello snakeslane,

Thanks for your comments. Waterford glass is still made in Waterford but on a much diminished scale. You can still get the real thing from those few chaps that still produce there.

Glad you liked this hub.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

Hello molometer. Your story on the Waterford Glass company and history on Waterford Crystal is so interesting. Thank you for this in depth report, and use of lovely images. Regards, snakeslane


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello ComfortB,

The answer to your question is in the hub above?

Sorry if you missed it?


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello wmhseo,

I could but that would be telling lol


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello ytsenoh,

It may be possible that one of my relations made your piece of clover.

It seems like half the factory was related to me. Shame it closed


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago Author

Hello Threresa,

This outsourcing mentality has got out of hand.

The point of outsourcing usually is to save money hence more profit.

But this kind of action is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Extremely short-sighted by the management.

People buy Waterford cut glass crystal because it is the best, and in many cases because it is made in Eire'.

Many people in the USA have a connection to the old country and liked to support the industry.

Virtually the whole of Waterford was impacted by the decision to close the factory.

PS. I didn't go into it on the Boeing hub but outsourcing on the 787 almost trebled costs and caused 'years' of delays.

Michael


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

I used to be an affiliate for Waterford until recently. Didn't know the company closed as the site is still up. I was actually looking at some Vera Wang labelled product just weeks ago.

Thanks for sharing.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

That really makes me sad to learn the factory closed. I have a Waterford crystal clover given to me in 2004 for receiving my journalism degree. It's precious. Without a doubt, Waterford crystal is the finest ever. Thanks for this hub.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Michael-

Poland is known for producing some beautiful pottery and everyday china but not cut glass and certainly nothing like Waterford Crystal. How short-sighted of them to close the company and try to produce their products by outsourcing. And how tragic for the many peopeple who worked there and are now out of work.

Theresa


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Waterford Donegal Cut Glass Crystal Bowl. Made In Poland?


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Thanks Pras, many of my family worked there for generations. It sad it closed down and a little short-sighted on the managements part.

Hey I did that thing on facebook you did the hub on lol To see how many want to know how to be popular ha ha. Good one.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

It's new for me. I had never know about Waterford cut glass crystal before. Thanks for share with us. I learned so many interesting things through this hub. Beautiful pictures as well. Good job and Rated up!

Prasetio


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Hi Annabelle, did you see the new links on the article to Richards friends place in Waterford?


Sister 5 years ago

Which one do you think ????

I hope this page grows and someone with a bit of clout sees it, then maybe the powers that be will raise Waterford glass from the ashes


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Thanks MM vote the vote up much appreciated.

I think I have got everyone hunting through their cupboards; looking for that bit of Waterford Crystal that have had for years.lol

It is stunning glass wear and second to none.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi molometer, I like the new profile pic!

You say waterford and think 'quality' it's beautiful glass and very sad that the factory is closed.

Interesting hub, thank you and voting up.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

How you keep them safe Stephhicks68 as they are now irreplaceable as well as beautiful.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

I have always loved Waterford. I have a number of goblets received as wedding presents. Sad to read this!


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Hi Linda,

Where exactly are those Waterford Crystals now? Think we better dig them out lol.

Thanks for dropping in.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Hi Jeff,

there are still several of the guys working in Waterford and producing Glass-wear.

It's for demonstration purposes for the tourists but they do have items for sale.

There are several other glass wear manufacturers referenced in the hub.

Not sure about the Tipperary company?

Thanks for dropping in.


Linda 5 years ago

I enjoyed my tour of the floor, watching glass being blown & such beautiful things being made, when I was in Waterford. Sad that it has closed down.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

A sad story. My wife and I bought a few pieces on our honeymoon in Ireland, and it's been my hope since then to expand the collection. Too late now, I guess. Do you know if the Tipperary Crystal company is still around?


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Thanks sister which one lol?


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Thanks Arlene for dropping in.

It's a shame it closed and pretty shortsighted by the owners hey?


Sister 5 years ago

Nice work Michael its about time someone pointed out the error of there ways in Waterford.


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

Some of the most beautiful stuff, and I didn't know they had shut down. Well done--as always.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

The new stuff is getting a lot of curious comments. Why is it coming from Poland Germany. It's supposed to be from Waterford? I think the company has made a big mistake. Some things you just cannot outsource. Craftsmanship being one of them.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

I know it is very expensive, even more so now as the originals are all there is.


gryphin423 profile image

gryphin423 5 years ago from Florida

Hi molo, I visited the factory in Waterford about five years ago. I had no idea it was now closed. That is so sad. Their work was amazing!I bought a little hedgehog when I was there, it was about all I could afford. Thanks for the info, but I'm bummed.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago Author

Hi Susan,

Many of my relatives worked in the factory for their whole lives before it went under.

It is beautiful stuff they made.

They are heirlooms.

It's sad what has happened but what can we do. Thats the way of the world isn't it.

Hey! I just realised, anything pre 2009 has probably doubled in value. Ka Ching!

Curiouser and Curiouser said Alice.lol

Enjoy your piece of Eire. Thanks for stopping by.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I have a Waterford Crystal bowl that I rec'd as a wedding gift that I cherish. Sad that the factory closed. Interesting article.

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