Irish city and centre of glass production. The earliest Waterford glass factory was established in Gurteens, near Waterford, during the 1720s, and production included lead-glass drinking vessels with pedestal stems, garden glasses, vials, bottles and other green glassware. The factory was closed about 1739.
In 1783 the Waterford Glass House was established by the merchants George Penrose and William Penrose, who employed John Hill and other glassmakers from Stourbridge, England. In 1799 the factory was taken over by three partners, James Ramsey (dc. 1810), Jonathan Gatchell (1752–1823) and Ambrose Barcroft, who in 1802 extended the works and installed new machinery. In 1823 George Gatchell became manager, and the works remained in the family until it closed. The factory produced cut, engraved and moulded glass of excellent quality, and c. 1832 steam power was installed in the factory, which allowed an increase in production.
The outstanding qualities of Waterford glass are its clarity and the precise cutting. The typical early Waterford decanter is barrel-shaped, has three or four neck rings and a wide, flat, pouring lip. Stoppers of Waterford production are almost invariably mushroom-shaped with a rounded knop below the stopper neck. From the cut patterns on marked Waterford decanters it would seem that popular designs included the pillar and arch embellished with fine diamonds. The numerous drawings of Waterford designs (Dublin, N. Mus.) made between ...