Snow Globes have been around since the 19th century, and have long been associated with two traditions: the holidays, and tacky tourist souvenirs. However, thanks to the efforts of serious artists, as well as prominent appearances in the movies Elf and The Santa Clause, the snowglobe is once again becoming a favorite Christmas collectible. There are few houses in the western world that are without at least one of the crystal toys, often with music boxes attached, which usually make an appearance among the household Christmas decorations.
Considering their relatively recent development and immediate popularity, the origins of the snow globe are surprisingly obscure. They have apparently been around since the mid-1800s, with the oldest known documented snow globes being sold at the International Exposition in Paris in 1889. This set off a snow globe frenzy, and by the end of the century the hypnotic little crystal balls began appearing under Christmas trees and in tourist shops all over the world. In the mid-20th century, the snow globe trend tapered off as they began to be considered tacky, especially after the arrival of plastic globes. However, they are once again in style, and collectors are back in force.
Although snowglobes likely first appeared in France, they are often more closely associated with Austria. According to tradition, the first Viennese snowglobe was created by one Erwin Peryz around the year 1900. More than a century later, his descendents are still in the snow globe business, with hand-made originals still produced in Vienna. In addition to their workshop, the family maintains a small museum with samples from a century of their work.
The Original Viennese Snowglobe Museum is located on the northwest side of Vienna, about a mile outside of the Ringstrasse. It is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00am-3:00pm. There is no charge for admission. Web: www.viennasnowglobe.at (official website of the Snowglobe Museum)