Last evening Anna Grace and I, along with a dozen or so friends from AIS, enjoyed a private tour of the Vienna Snow Globe Museum. The Vienna Snow Globe is the original, invented 112 years ago by Erwin Perzy, a surgical instrument repairman. In his failed quest to create a brighter light for operating rooms, using glass balls filled with water and semolina, he instead created the miniature winter wonderlands that delight us all.
Erwin Perzy III gave us the tour of the small museum, but did not share the “7th most valuable trade secret” formula for the snow with us. That he will share with his daughter, who is completing her Masters credentials as a machinist and will carry on the family business. Erwin Perzy III is proudly looking forward to the day when he can “retire, and perhaps become the director of the museum.”
The original designs were made of pewter; today they are of resin, but are still hand painted by a team of 15 employees. The glass balls of the snow globes are filled only with pure Vienna alpine water, too. Mr. Perzy had considered moving to a larger factory across the Danube, but changed his mind when the water in the sample snow globes he made turned brown after two days. So, the little factory remains in the Hernals district of Vienna, on an unassuming side street.
The factory receives requests for custom snow globes from around the world. This one, below, was requested by a close friend of the Clinton’s, and is filled with confetti from Clinton’s inauguration party.
How to tell if you have an original Vienna snow globe tucked away somewhere in your house? Just look for the tiny “light bulb” logo on the base, of course.