Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter is Almost Gone, But Not Snowglobes

With winter almost gone, and all this talk about Austria, Christopher Plummer and The Sound of Music, there is no time like the present to talk about a beloved object of many that never goes out of style:

The Snow Globe.

The New Yorker had a funny article a couple of months ago about school cancellations in the winter.  It was accompanied by this illustration, which got me thinking it is about time I talked about snow globes and what I learned about them on a trip to Vienna a few years ago.

 They are called schneekugeln in Austrian.

That might look foreign to you, dear English speaker, but think about it:

Schnee:  snow
Kugeln:  mixed up

Like, a kugel you might eat be it noodle, potato, apple, is a mixture of a lot of ingredients.  When the snow gets shaken inside a snow globe, it gets all mixed up.  See, German isn't so hard!

According to its Wiki entry, snow globes were founded in France around the turn of the last century.  I find that hard to believe, after having visited what is purported to be the original snow globe factory, owned by Edwin Perzy III, in Vienna.

Mr. Perzy showed me around his factory and showroom, and told me that it is because of Vienna's high quality water that the snow globes produced there work so well.  This is a family business, and they have special-made snow globes for big events like President Clinton's inauguration.  The little figurines inside get outsourced to small home-based artisans.  Mostly everything used in the snow globe's production is Austrian-produced (I forget to be sure, but I believe is either the glass globe or the black base that is produced in Belgium)

I bought one for my daughter based on an Austrian fairy tale.  A poor girl goes out to the mountains and everything she touches turns to gold.  So, in this snow globe, the snow is gold flakes.  I have yet to find out the name of the fairy tale.  Mr. Perzy told me but I didn't write it down.  Austria is a small place so it's not like this story is a Barnes & Noble best seller.

This is the one I brought back for my daughter.  Unfortunately, the other two I brought back were used as baseballs by my then-2 year old, and he smashed them to the floor.

I wonder why the Wikipedia entry doesn't mention the Austrian connection.  I imagine that the Perzy family is hard-working and they don't have the time or interest to correct the Wiki entry.  I do know that if you look at any well-made snow globe these days and flip it over and see it is Made in Austria, you will know you are getting an original.

The Snow Globe selection was immense!

Why does any of this matter, you ask?

 Because I seek out truth and knowledge, and I feel good knowing that I was where it all started!  And now you know one more piece of trivia.  Who knows, if you meet Bill Clinton one day, you can ask him all about his schneekugel.

I took a subway and a street trolley to get to this off-the-beaten track location in Vienna, and boy am I glad that I went!  Next time you are planning to visit Vienna, give them a visit!

Original Vienna Snowglobes
Schummanngasse 87
A-1170 Vienna
0043(1) 486 43 41-9

And remember, folks, I received no payment for this review.  I just wrote it because I wanted to!  But if the Perzy family wants to send me a thank-you with a schneekugel as a token of their appreciation, I won't say no.

1 comment:

Big Trike said...

loved your story on the Perzi Family. We are in Vermont and we design and manufacture snowglobes. Unique and original, like nothing you've ever seen before! come soon to be renamed

Post a Comment