When I retired two years ago, my students undoubtedly considered me a dinosaur, although they were too polite to say otherwise. From their adolescent galaxy I was certainly light years behind the times, a fading star rapidly on my way to becoming cosmic dust in the wake of the next generation.
I went home with my traditional timepiece at the end of thirty years on the job; time was now officially my own, a commodity as priceless as the Waterford Crystal highlighting my new timepiece. Who knew time on my own would actually include a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal!
Well, there was one little piece of karma that was a bit fickle; think of it as a hangnail. My official Waterford timepiece wasn’t really made in Waterford, Ireland. I guess it’s time I officially launch into my, 7 Things You Might Not Know about Waterford Crystal.
such as Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany.
It’s not made in Waterford! My Slovakia timepiece just doesn’t seem to have the same ring as Waterford crystal. Is champagne simply sparkling wine if it doesn’t originate in France’s Champagne region?
Woe is me!
Woe was Waterford during the financial crisis of 2008; Waterford Crystal, Wedgewood and Royal Daulton went into receivership as part of the WWRD Holdings, Ltd. during the crisis. Few families in Waterford and surrounding suburbs went untouched by the economic fallout. In February, 2009 the U.S. equity firm KPS Capital bought WWRD Holdings, Ltd.
This uniquely European enterprise representing generations of quality craftsmen (the city of Waterford is older than all the North European capitals except London and Paris) became the sole property of those Yankees across the pond, with the exception of the factory and new Visitor’s Center in Waterford, Ireland. Those two properties remained in the hands of the House of Waterford.
Even Ireland’s iconic Guinness, as in stout ale, succumbed to rising costs in 1997 when the company merged with the London-based British conglomerate, Grand Metropolitan, to become Diageo plc. But investors know full well brand name recognition (along with the same renowned quality) is the lifeblood of sales. If they couldn't control costs, those costs would eventually mean more of my dollars, and Waterford already goes for a pretty penny. Well, lots and lots and lots of pennies.
#3 WATERFORD CRYSTAL IS STILL HANDCRAFTED BY SKILLED CRAFTSMEN MUCH
AS IT HAS BEEN FOR ALMOST TWO CENTURIES
The ancient craft of making wooden molds for shaping hand blown molten crystal is still used today in the production process at the House of Waterford. Eighty to ninety full-time and thirty-three part-time staff members, with 30-40 temporary staff during peak seasons, annually produce 40,000 hand-crafted high end pieces from 750 tons of full lead crystal using traditional methods.
Given a new millennium doesn’t roll around but every so often; that’s right, every one thousand years, the New Year celebration required some fancy digs; and time-balls. Waterford Crystal and Phillips Lighting collaborated in designing the Millennium Ball for Time’s Square.
When the one hundred year anniversary of the Time’s Square tradition rolled around on December 31st, 2007, a permanent Big Ball weighing nearly six tons and twelve feet in diameter incorporated 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles illuminated by 32,256 Phillip Luxeon LEDs. The Big Ball is on permanent display year round in Time’s Square, but you’ll have to arrive on New Year’s Eve if you want to see the real show.
#5 THE RETAIL GALLERY IN WATERFORD BOASTS THE LARGEST
COLLECTION OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL IN THE WORLD
The collection was exquisite! The showroom oozed old money. Even with my sixty-plus years, my money wasn’t old enough to buy me anything but minimal access to this high class club. I was more of the frame of mind ‘take only memories (aka, pictures); leave nothing but footprints.’
#6 THE SEAHORSE IS THE OFFICIAL TRADEMARK OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL
Only this seahorse has a tail that turns clockwise rather than the real deal’s counterclockwise motion.
Mr. Dolfin, being partial to sea creatures, thought the uniqueness of the seahorse (the male of the species is the carrier during reproduction) would be an appropriate symbol for Waterford’s unique crystal; not to mention the seahorse was artistically suited to the type of label Mr. Dolfin had in mind. The rest is history; beautiful history, I might add.
#7 THE HOUSE OF WATERFORD IS ALL ABOUT AWARD WINNING DESIGNS
Waterford is renowned for their lead crystal stemware, their exquisite chandeliers, and their commemorative pieces. But did you know they're also responsible for some stunning awards across the globe?
There’s the Masters Series crystal shield trophies that are awarded to the winner of each of the nine men's professional tennis Masters Series tournaments; the AFCA National Championship Trophy that is awarded to the US college football team which finishes the season at the top of the Coaches' Poll;
Also crafted by Waterford are the winning trophies for the French and German Grand Prix in Formula One; a bat and ball trophy presented at the final game at Yankee Stadium to Derek Jeter ; a glass tennis racket for Boris Becker; and of course Waterford is responsible for all those People’s Choice Awards the U.S. likes to bestow annually to their favorite actors, musicians and humanitarians.
I like my little Waterford timepiece I was awarded two years ago. It's a far cry from the $30,000 Coaches' Trophy, but it's priceless to me. The timepiece sits on my desk, a beautiful reminder, courtesy of Waterford and my former employer, of just how fulfilling my life's work.