David and I visited an amazing estate sale last Friday. Every estate sale is different, and this house overflowed with Waterford Crystal in the Colleen pattern.
We saw sets of wine glasses, champagne glasses, brandy snifters, sherry glasses and others that I cannot begin to name. I remembered Suszi, an owner of Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery, advised me to pick up some Waterford if I happened across any. “It’s quite popular at Christmas.” And why not? It’s ornate, breathtaking, cut glass that dances in sunlight and glows in firelight. Waterford Crystal would make a fabulous gift for someone special.
I searched the tables of crystal, almost afraid to touch the pieces, and found two items that we could afford: a wine decanter with stopper, and a pitcher. You can see that a estate company rep wrote Waterford at the base with a nonpermanent marker. I appreciated that.
At a previous, sprawling estate sale I foolishly inquired about Waterford crystal. “It’s here but you’ll just have to pull out your magnifying glass and hunt.” I thought he was kidding — and at that point not only did I not carry a magnifying glass, I had no earthly idea what to look for.
Clearly, I needed to learn more about crystal. I sought out another vendor in the mall, someone willing to share a little knowledge. I’ve had my first tutorial and I’m looking forward to continuing my lessons. But enough about me.
Waterford Crystal originated in Ireland and a factory still produces glass there, offers tours, and has the largest collection of Waterford crystal in the world. Since 1783 the company has undergone mergers and takeovers and a century-long closure. Most Waterford Crystal is now produced in Slovania, Czech Republic and Germany.
Identification of Waterford Crystal can be tricky. The most important step is seeking out a reputable dealer.
The easiest ID is a Waterford sticker. That’s their seahorse in the photo below, followed by an older variation of the sticker.
Here’s our decanter’s sticker:
The other method of identification requires that pesky magnifying glass. Hunt for the word “Waterford” etched in gothic type. Using a strong backlight helps, but it’s still a difficult logo to find. Not only did the estate sale rep write “Waterford” in black nonpermanent marker on their crystal, she also circled the etched word.
If you had your magnifying glass and/or a bright light and tipped the piece just so, you might see this:
Waterford assures clients that their patterns will never expire. If you want to replace a piece, all you have to do is contact the company and your crystal will be handmade using wooden molds to shape the handblown, molten crystal. Master cutters would then take the piece and, using a diamond-tipped wheel, cut to specifications.
Waterford Crystal typically has a lead content of 32%. The lead makes it heavier than glass and easier to cut. The baseline for a piece to be classified as crystal is 24%. Now, with this information I had to do more research. Just how harmful is it to use crystal?
If you are simply drinking a glass of wine, there’s very little chance of lead leaching into the liquid. The cautions I found focused on leaving food or drink in a crystal container for prolonged periods. For instance, it’s unwise to use the decanter as a permanent storage place for wine or liquor. Similarly, avoid the temptation to store jam in a crystal jam container. Use the crystal for a single sitting, return and remaining contents to a container or jar, and wash the crystal by hand.
I envision enjoying these brilliant, shimmering pieces on special occasions, where you’ll find yourself transported to a magical world of elegance and grace.
Ann Marie and David