• Snow globes from the Viennese snow globe maker

    Mother Holle in a Snow Globe

    Shake once and admire the swirling snow! Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of snow globes? But few people know that the famous invention hails from Austria. We say hello to the family Perzy and their Snowglobemanufacture.

    Snow globes from the Viennese snow globe maker

    Snowfall Made to Order

    A Charming Invention from Vienna

    Large cities foster great inventions: New York brought forth the telephone, Paris the hot air balloon, London the subway. But none of these creations is as magical as Vienna’s groundbreaking invention: the snow globe.

    A tiny bit of pride tinges Erwin Perzy III’s voice when he mentions that his snow globes are replicated by millions all over the world. The very first snow globe was invented by his grandfather. Which explains the name of Perzy’s workshop in Wien-Hernals: The „Original Wiener Schneekugelmanufaktur,“ or Original Viennese Snowglobemanufacture, opened its doors in 1905. Back then, Erwin Perzy I. worked on the creation of a special lamp for operating rooms, filled glass orbs with water and backlit them with a light bulb. To reflect more of the light, he filled them with glass splinters, then semolina. When the latter swirled through the water, it looked like snowfall. The lamp was abandoned, instead, a new business idea was born. 

    Original Wiener Schneekugelmanufaktur

    The Blizzard in a Globe conquers the World

    • The Magic Orb of Longing

      And so it happened that for more than 100 years, people from all over the world have delighted in the magic of the snow globe. Japan and the USA are especially enthusiastic. Two regions which Erwin Perzy II. explored in the years following World War II. In the 1940s, the snow globe even made it to Hollywood fame. In Orson Welles’s movie “Citizen Kane,“ a glass orb enclosed the snow-covered house of the main character’s youth and with it his longings.

      The museum which is adjacent to the manufacture features hundreds of motifs: Buildings, foods, snowmen and, of course, angels, Santas and Christmas trees. The swirling snow suggests a bright, optimistic world. Snow is synonymous with calmness and peace and for many represents childhood memories, sometimes even melancholic feelings.

    • Mysterious Artificial Snow

      At the family-run business in Wien-Hernals, the snow globes are still made by hand. The artificial snow, however, is no longer made of semolina. For a while, a mix of wax and magnesium powder was substituted, but that turned out not to be heat-proof. However, Erwin Perzy III. does not reveal how exactly Mother Holle’s helpers make the artificial snow today: "That remains our secret! Not even my daughter, who runs the business today, knows the exact formula for the snow.” 

      This much we do know: The water in the glass orbs is ordinary Viennese tap water. And nowadays, the figures are made with a 3D printer. Sabine Perzy, the inventor’s great-granddaughter, has adapted the motifs to today’s tastes. Reacting to the current pandemic, she created a model which literally flew off the shelves: a toilet paper roll surrounded by swirling snow - an allusion to the scarcity of the product during the first big lockdown.

    The Five Most Popular Snow Globes of All Time

    •                     Christmas Tree Snow Globe

      1. The Christmas Tree

    •                     Snow globe Snowman

      2. The Snowman

    •                     Snow Globe St. Stephen's Cathedral

      3. Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral

    •                     Snow Globe Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel

      4. The Vienna Ferris Wheel

    •                     Penguin Snow Globe

      5. The Penguin

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