Erwin Perzy wasn’t out to make a Christmas decoration or a paperweight when he developed the snow globe around the turn of the 20th century. He was looking for a way to make the overhead light brighter in a surgical suite. But one of his attempts, magnifying light with a globe of water containing metal flakes, looked really pretty, like snow falling in his city of Vienna. From there, he turned the idea into an object containing small landscapes where snow fell when you shook the globe. After World War II, Perzy’s son started making Christmas scenes inside the globes to appeal to Americans, and soon the Original Snow Globe Factory was the premiere provider of snow globes worldwide. The company is now headed by Erwin Perzy III, who stills makes snow globes by hand in Vienna.
All that leaves the question about the most famous snow globe of all- the one that figured prominently in the movie Citizen Kane. There are no records of where the snow globe in the 1941 movie came from, but it has long been assumed that it was made by the Original Snow Globe Factory. Either way, Citizen Kane left its mark on the company. Read the story of the snow globe at Atlas Obscura.
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