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"Snowglobe" redirects here. For the film, see Snowglobe (film).
A Christmas snow globe
A snow globe is a transparent sphere usually made of glass enclosing a miniaturized scene of some sort, often together with a model of a landscape. The sphere also encloses the water in the globe; the water serves as the medium through which the "snow" falls. To activate the snow, the globe is physically shaken to churn up the white particles. The globe is then placed back in its position and the flakes fall down slowly through the water. Snow globes sometimes have a built-in music box that plays a Christmas carol.
3 Forced-air globes
5 Cultural references
6 External links
Precisely when the first snow globe, also called a waterglobe or snowdome, was made remains unclear, but they appear to date from France during the early 1800s. They may have appeared as a successor to the glass paperweight, which became popular a few years earlier. Snow globes appeared at the Paris Universal Expo in 1878, and by 1879, at least five companies were producing snow globes and selling them throughout Europe.
A girl shaking a snow globe.
In 1889, a snow globe containing a model of the newly built Eiffel Tower was produced to commemorate the International Exposition in Paris, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution. This globe quickly became a favourite souvenir for attendees.
Snow globes became popular in England during the Victorian era and, in the early 1920s, crossed the Atlantic to the United States of America where they became a popular collectors item. Many of these globes were produced by Atlas Crystal Works, which had factories in Germany and America.
In the United States, the first snow globe-related patent was granted in 1927 to Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1929, Garaja convinced Novelty Pool Ornaments to manufacture a fish version underwater.
In America, during the 1940s, snow globes were often used for advertising. In Europe, during the 1940s and 1950s, religious snow globes were common gifts for Catholic children. Snow globes have appeared in a number of film scenes, the most famous of which is the opening of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane.
In the 1950s the globes, which were previously of glass construction, became available in plastic. Currently, there are many different types of snow globes available. These globes are produced by a number of countries and range from the mass produced versions of Hong Kong and China to the finely crafted types still produced in West Germany. Snow globes feature diverse scenes, ranging from the typical holiday souvenirs to more eclectic collectibles featuring Christmas scenes, Disney characters, popular icons, animals, military figures, historical scenes, etc. Snow globes have even been used for election campaigns.
Religious snowglobes for sale at Vatican City.
Initially snow globes consisted of a heavy lead glass dome which was placed over a ceramic figure or tableau on a black cast ceramic base, filled with water and then sealed. The snow was created by use of bone chips or pieces of porcelain, sand or even sawdust. As they became more sophisticated, the glass became thinner, the bases were lighter (Bakelite was popular during the Art Deco period) and the snow was made out of particles of gold foil or non-soluble soap flakes although nowadays, for health and safety reasons, small pieces of white plastic are used. Later, the liquid was changed to light oil, then water with antifreeze (glycerin or glycol). An added benefit was that glycerin and glycol slowed the descent of the flitter.
Today's snow globes can include music boxes, moving parts, internal lights, and even electric motors that make the "snow" move so that it is no longer necessary to shake the globe. Some also have central slots for positioning items such as photographs.
Beginning in 2005, many U.S. stores sell inflatable snow globes as part of their Christmas d闁弌r. These have a base with a blower, forcing air which carries styrofoam pellets from the bottom and through a tube up the back to the top, where they are blown out and fall down inside the front, which is made of transparent vinyl. The rest of the globe, including the characters inside, are made of colorful nylon fabric. These globes are typically large decorations for the front yard, and are lighted internally with a few C7 (nightlight-type) incandescent light bulbs (which enclosed in plastic spheres to prevent heat damage to the fabric).
A variation on this is the "tornado globe", where small foam objects spin around inside a globe. This is more common for Halloween d闁弌r, where foam bats or sometimes ghosts may fly around the Halloween figures in the middle. These...(and so on)
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