Our next Your Favorite Brands feature showcases a radiant selection of Waterford Crystal chandeliers. Famous all over the world, Waterford Crystal chandeliers appear in Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have amazing crystal artisanship in your home or office - at excellent prices! Inventory includes more than 25 dazzling crystal chandeliers in a range of sizes, colors, styles, and prices that range from $189.95 to $7,999.00.
The story of Waterford Crystal begins in 1783, when George and William Penrose opened the Flint Glass Works in Ireland. Although glassmaking had been popular throughout England and Ireland for decades, high tax rates and heavy parliamentary regulation made it nearly impossible for a glass house to be run profitably. A parliamentary act in 1780 however, ushered in a new era of free trade for the Emerald Isle. George and William Penrose tried again in County Waterford, Ireland. The brothers were not skilled in the art of blowing and cutting glass, but still viewed the opening of the glass works as a potentially profitable business under the new trade laws, if they could find the right people. They hired John Hill of Worcester’s Stourbridge Glass Works as managing director, and brought in 50 skilled artisans from across continental Europe.
From the outset, the brothers demonstrated real business savvy. They began by petitioning Parliament for a government subsidy. By pointing out that a domestic glass industry would enable England and Ireland to reduce the importing of glass from other countries, and by promising to run a business that would employ 60 to 70 employees, George and William were granted a 10,000 pound subsidy! After having made their early moves, the brothers began to woo the aristocracy of Ireland and England. In 1788, Waterford produced a glassware service as a gift to her Majesty, Charlotte Sophia, wife to King George III. The King and Queen were so charmed by the crystal service that they ordered the set to be displayed at Cheltenham. Local newspaper reporters were thrilled by the sight of Waterford’s innovative design. In 1790, George and William invited the aristocracy to tour their factory. Dignitaries such as the Countess of Westmoreland, the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford, and the Bishop of Ossory arrived in Waterford and were amazed at the sophistication of the manufacturing processes shown them.
George and William Penrose sold the Old Flint Glass factory in 1799. The factory was purchased by Jonathan Gatchell, an apprentice and manager at Worcester’s Stourbirdge Glassworks, the company from which Waterford hired artisans almost two decades earlier. By the time Jonathan Gatchell made this purchase, the factory had come to be known as the “Waterford Flint Glass Manufactory.” Between 1800 and 1823, Waterford grew very rapidly. Around 1810, Jonathan Gatchell purchased a new factory, much larger than the Flint Glass Works. The new factory was located on the “Old Tan Yard” in Waterford’s Ann Street and employed 25 new artisans. Collectively, the wares produced at the Flint Glass Works and the “Old Tan Yard” came to be known as “Waterford.” When his oldest son George turned 21, he would inherit the factories. Jonathan Gatchell died in 1823 and his son George inherited the Waterford factories in 1835, on his 21st birthday. The old Flint Glass Works would only survive for another 16 years. New taxes were levied on the import and export of crystal at the direction of King George IV. Unable to find a partner with a considerable amount of contributive capital, George Gatchell auctioned off all of his Irish assets, including the Flint Glass Works and “Old Tan Yard.” Following the auction, George Gatchell moved to England, and it is said that he never returned to Ireland..
During the 1930s, Ireland set out to develop large-scale industry to increase prosperity, and to stem the flow of its citizens emigrating to other countries. Ireland’s government encouraged wealthy entrepreneurs to start businesses in the country. A group of Belgians partnered with two Irishmen, Joseph McGrath and Joseph Griffin, to invest in the nearly defunct Irish Bottle Co. The partners opened what they called a “pilot factory.” This factory, in Ballytruckle, Ireland, successfully weathered hardships resulting from the Great Depression as well as the Second World War. By 1950, McGrath, Griffin, and Bernard Fitzpatrick, an important shareholder in the company, decided to attempt to revive the Waterford tradition. The labor force in Ireland initially lacked the skills needed to resurrect Waterford, so the managing partners, like the Penroses before them, went to the European continent to find skilled artisans..
McGrath and Griffin returned to Ireland and brought with them 30 skilled glass blowers and cutters, then began an apprenticeship program. The 30 men brought from Europe trained Irish apprentices in the art of glassblowing and cutting. Although these displaced European artisans stayed for many years, all but one eventually returned to the continent. In 1951, a new factory in County Waterford opened exactly 100 years to the day that the old Flint Glass Works closed in 1851. Today, Waterford’s crystal stemware, china, and flatware can be found on tables throughout the world.
So share this amazing history at Thanksgiving dinner while seated beneath your beautiful (and beautifully priced!) Waterford chandelier – your guests will be impressed. Values like this in unique Waterford items do not come along every day, so order while we have them. With these Waterford Crystal chandeliers, you and your loved ones will enjoy glorious crystal lighting for years to come!
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