Snow globes are one of the most popular souvenirs and gifts that are regularly given because of their highly customizable nature. Featuring Disney characters, landmarks from a specific city or region, or having images to celebrate specific holidays, there is really no limit to what can be placed inside a snow globe. The initial invention is credited to Edwin Perzy, who came up with the idea accidentally according to his family. Snow globes made in a different way were being produced for up to a century before Perzy’s invention, but Perzy was the first to patent the snow globe.
Perzy invented the snow globe in 1900 and mass production of the item began just 5 years later. Called the Original Vienna Snow Globes Company, this invention is still being produced within the same family. Perzy’s grandson, Erwin Perzy III, is currently running the company and they produce 200,000 snow globes every year.
How Did the Invention of the Snow Globe Come About?
Erwin Perzy, Sr. was a mechanic who specialized in surgical instruments. He was tinkering about with a few different ideas, but what he really wanted to do was improve the design of the light bulb. The first bulbs weren’t very bright at all. What he really wanted to try was what shoemakers in his area were doing with candles. They’d place a glass globe filled with water in front of a candle to improve the ambient light.
Perzy figured he could do that with a light bulb, but soon discovered that running electricity through a globe filled with water didn’t work so well. So one day, Perzy found a white powder that was used for baby food. It was semolina and he poured it into the glass globe. When it got soaked by water, it would float very slowly to the bottom of the globe like snow.
All that needed to be added was a diorama and the first official snow globe would be created. For the first 40 years of the company’s existence, the only diorama was that of a church. The Origina Vienna Snow Globes Company has over 350 different designs today, however, and all of the snow globes are hand-painted and fully customized.
What About Snow Globes Today?
Erwin Perzy may have created an unintended legacy, but it has been a very profitable one. He abandoned his surgical instruments practice to focus on the creation of snow globes and the company hasn’t ever looked back. There are even some famous instances of a Perzy snow globe being seen, including in the movie Citizen Kane.
What sets apart these snow globes from all of the rest today? For one, they are all still made of glass and not plastic. The company has 15 employees who work from home and they manually assemble the snow globes and then paint them. Despite being a small sized company, however, the Perzy family has created a large impact on the world today. If you want to own a piece of history, then one thing in your collection should be a snow globe from Erwin Perzy.
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