Christmas snow globes have been around for centuries—their exact debut is unknown, but traditional snow globes can be traced back to France as early as the 19th century. Snow globes appeared at the Universal Expo of 1878 and, a year later, at least five companies manufactured snow globes and sold them throughout Europe.
In 1889, a snow globe was created with a tiny model of the newly built Eiffel Tower in Paris, marking the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution. From that time, the popularity of snow globes grew, especially in England during the Victorian Era; they then crossed the pond to America.
Snow globes became a popular collector’s item during the Roaring ’20s. Many of these Christmas snow globes were crafted by the Atlas Crystal Works Company which had factories in Germany and America. Most finely crafted Christmas snow globes still come from Germany today.
The first snow globe related U.S. patent was granted to Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh in 1929. He wanted to manufacture a snow globe model that showed a fish underwater and other styles of snow globes. During the 1940s, the Atlas Crystal Works Company manufactured military-themed snow globes which are some of the most sought-after snow globes by collectors today.
By the 1970s, several American novelty and gift manufacturers decided to upgrade the production and quality of snow globes as gift items; their production often including beautifully modeled landscapes, internal batteries that automatically churned the snow and musical boxes into their designs. Christopher Radko, a famous handmade Christmas decorator and novelty gift designer, contributed to the manufacture of high-quality Christmas decorations including Christmas snow globes.
I chose the Christmas snow globe for this month’s cover, naturally for the holidays, but also as a tribute to my brother who gave me a Christmas snow globe every Christmas. Unfortunately, 2008 was the last globe I received. It took a couple of Christmases to put them out, but today when the season rolls around, I carefully clean each glass globe and place them throughout my home with a smile and in memory of my brother. The first globe he gave me resides on my dresser year-round. There is something special about the globes–they are timeless, lovely to look at and each globe has its own theme for the holidays: characters carefully placed in a round glass object that sits on a base, wheedling the child in me that still want to believe in the magic of Christmas.