12/11/2018

Snow globes - The eleventh door


I once had a friend who collected snow globes. I never got to see her collection, but when I happened to see a TV program about Vienna in the Christmas time, it made me wonder if she knew about the history of the snow globe. I didn't.
As usual I found slightly different stories on different pages.

You may want to know what snow globes have to do with Vienna. While "one of the earliest known descriptions of the snow globe comes from the U.S. government’s official report on the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878" as The Strategist is telling me (a paper weight with a man in the snow who's holding an umbrella), there is also the story of Erwin Perzy, a maker of surgical instruments in Vienna, who tried to improve the carbon thread lamp and experimented with a shoemaker's ball, a glass ball filled with water that craftsmen used to bundle the rays of light in order to have better light during their work. He tried out several things to add to the water to enhance light reflection. Semolina which sank to the ground slowly reminded him of snow and gave him the idea for a snow globe with the first one containing a model of the Basilica of Maria Zell. He patented the idea and the manufacture exists to this day.

Then I got to the website of the Paris Musée de la Poupée where I was told that the predecessors of snow globes were Cartesian divers, a science experiment named after Descartes.
They didn't mention Perzy at all, but instead a legal dispute between two German brands. From there on to a German website for collectors, from there to an American newspaper article that I couldn't read because of the EU's data policies and finally I ended up with the thesis of Anne Hilker: A biography of the American snow globe: from memory to mass production, from souvenir to sign ... that's when I gave up, but you are very welcome to read it here and check up on the many citations yourself.

There's nothing you can't find in a snow globe, no matter if it makes sense or not. There is even a snow globe that has only snow! Check out CoolSnowGlobes if you don't believe me. My favorite, however, is the Eclipse which "conjures the infinite depth of the night sky". It does look quite fascinating, but my desk definitely does not need any more things.



You can get snow globes in small, big, glass, plastic, as balls or domes, as jewelry, as ornament or as DIY kits.
What would you put into a snow globe if you had the choice? Do you have any yourself, if you do, what kinds?
Here's the only one I have.

 

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