Erwin Perzy, a surgical instruments mechanic, accidentally created the first snow globe in 1900 as a result of an experiment to try to improve the brightness of the newly invented – and then not very bright – electric light bulb.
He was inspired by the shoemakers of the time, who to get more light from a candle mounted a glass globe filled with water in front of the flame. This gave them a light spot the size of a hand.
One day he found a white powder, semolina, used for baby food.
And he poured it into the glass globe, and it got soaked by the water and floated very slowly to the base of the globe.
This effect reminded him of snowfall.
And this was the very first, the basic idea for inventing a snow globe.
Though Perzy—who patented his globe in 1900—didn’t invent the snow globe, he and his brother are responsible for catapulting the souvenir into the position of tchotchke primacy it holds today.
Seizing on the invention, the pair opened a shop, Original Wiener Schneekugel Manufaktur, in Vienna.
Today there are as many styles as fill the imagination.