Waterford Crystal is known for its high-end stemware, barware and decorative cut glass pieces, with detailed and sophisticated designs. According to Waterford, the “Lismore” pattern was introduced in 1952 and has been its most popular pattern almost every year since. Two brothers founded the business in 1783 and named the company after the Irish port of Waterford, where the first manufacturing site was located. Today, Waterford Crystal is sold around the world online and through retail stores. It is often considered a family heirloom and passed down through generations, and collectors treasure each piece they find.
Find the acid-etched Waterford signature using a magnifying glass. The mark is usually on the base or bottom and may be hidden in the design elements. On an older piece the mark may have worn away, so don’t rely on the signature alone to determine authenticity.
Look at the Waterford website to match up your item to the current patterns. If your item is a wine or other beverage glass, click on the “Dining” section and pick “Barware & Stemware.” Look at the “Gifts” section for other crystal pieces such as vases, bowls, clocks and decorative items.
Check online at replacements.com for discontinued patterns not found on the Waterford website. The patterns are listed by name, not image. Click each name to bring up a picture of the pattern.
Take close-up photographs of your piece from different angles. Print out the best ones and carry these with you instead of the actual piece of crystal, for quick reference. On the back of the photos write the height and width of your item to help in identification.
Go to the library or bookstore to find books on identifying crystal. Waterford is highly collectable so many guides will have a special section devoted to those patterns. Carry a book with you if you are searching for crystal pieces at auctions, antique stores or yard sales.
Call local antique stores and ask if they are familiar with crystal. Go to one that handles Waterford crystal, show your photographs and ask if the manager can recognise the pattern. They may have some old catalogues or collecting magazines to browse through.
Get a professional appraisal from someone who has experience with Waterford crystal. Ask at antique stores or high-end auction houses for referrals to experienced appraisers. The appraiser will charge a fee for his services and will give you an estimate of the item’s value.
Crystal is also known as lead glass. Ordinary glass is too hard to be cut into intricate patterns, so lead oxide is added to make the glass softer. A crystal piece is heavier than a similar plain glass piece because of the lead.