Snow Globe – A Victorian Keepsake
Snow globes are glass or ceramic paperweights filled with water that showcase miniature figures or scenes. Dating back to the Victorian era, these collectibles make great conversation pieces today.
Snow globes were originally sold as souvenirs, and many collectors still keep them as reminders of a special trip abroad or during special holidays or seasons. While there are various shapes and themes, most come in the shape of a ball with an image or scene inside.
They became widely popular in Europe during the Victorian era and eventually made their way to America. Not only were these beautiful souvenirs from travels a great souvenir, but they were also used as decorative items in Victorian homes.
Early American and European snow globes were made of glass, often frosted or decorated with colored flakes of ice or iridescent glitter. Manufacturers would place a glass or ceramic ball over an object in the scene, fill it with water, seal the globe, then decorate it with bone chips, sand or porcelain “flitter,” giving it a snowlike appearance.
As technology advanced, they were increasingly constructed from various materials like plastic, ceramic or sand. Generally lighter in weight and more malleable in form, manufacturers could create a wider variety of patterns with these tools.
Popular shapes included bottles, cubes and drums. Some designs featured intricate detailing while others had a more classic aesthetic – all had an enchanting Victorian appeal.
Victorian-style snow globes made ideal gifts for young girls, often hanging up in their rooms as a memento of their travels. Some could even be repurposed into other items like table tops or lamps.
Though some may consider snow globes to be simply Christmas or winter-themed decorations, there are actually snow globes that celebrate holidays, seasons and important life events like birthdays and weddings. Some feature iconic images of actors or singers while others simply display winter landscapes or scenes.
Snow globes became immensely popular during the 1940s. While many were produced in Europe, American snow globes became increasingly popular as cottage industry manufacturers started manufacturing them here in America. Not only were these novelty items great for gift giving and selling at retail prices to restaurants and shops, but many could also be purchased for a nominal fee.
World War II interrupted Japan’s manufacturing of snow globes, but some American companies continued to produce them and they are still available for purchase today.
In the 1950s, snow globes experienced a revival. Unfortunately, production costs increased and they soon disappeared from stores as souvenirs.
Snow globes continued to be produced throughout the twentieth century, but their appeal waned as manufacturers turned their attention toward other items. By the late 1930s, most were imported from Japan and Hong Kong.
In the 1950s, thermo-plastic injection molding replaced them. This allowed designers to craft plastic globe-shaped forms with intricate interior scenes made possible through injection molding – some even featured lights, motion and music!