A snow globe is a sphere shaped object, usually made of glass or clear plastic, which features a miniature model or scene. The sphere is sealed and filled with water and small white particles are used as snow. When the snow globe is shaken or turned upside down the simulated “snow” begins to fall. Snow globes can be very plain or feature a built in music box and/or special base. These are commonly associated with Christmas and many feature winter and/or Christmas scenes (although many non winter/Christmas scenes have also been made). Let’s find out who invented this decorative object.
Who invented the snow globe?
The invention of the snow globe is somewhat a mystery and they are thought to have originated in France in the early 19th century. They were probably a successor to the glass paperweight, which were very popular in the years prior to the snow globe. We do know that snow globes were found at the Paris Universal Expo of 1878 and a year later at least five companies were producing this product for sale in Europe.
The first patent for a snow globe was awarded to surgical instrument maker Erwin Perzy. He was initially trying to produce a bright light for a surgical lamp with a water filled flask to increase the intensity of the light. He was using particles in the water to increase reflectivity and it occurred to him that this looked like snow. He created his first snow globe, featuring the Mariazell basilica as a model, and demand grew so quickly that Perzy, together with his brother, opened a shop in Vienna. This family owned company still produces snow globes today and the material that the company uses for snow is a closely guarded secret!
The first US patent for a snow globe was awarded to Joseph Garaja in 1927.
Did you know?
Snow globes became popular in England during the Victorian Era and it was from here that they crossed into the United States.