A Very Rare 19thC Glass Domed Snow Globe


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: 1890-1900
Height: 4 inches
Diameter: 2.75 inches (at base)

The early lead glass domed snow globe with knob finial on an ebonised circular ceramic plinth base with remnants of gilding having a ceramic(?) ebony representation of a church amongst water within, survives from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The globe has not been repaired or restored in any way, the gilt decoration to the base has worn commensurate with its use, having been picked up, shaken, and put back down again countless times. The original water within has now reduced to about two centimeters deep due to natural evaporation over more than a century and what would have been the snow chips are now remnants of dirt ,but the fact this globe has survived is quite remarkable.

It is unclear when the first snow globes were invented, but they began to appear in the early-nineteenth century in France. It is possible that they were designed as a successor to the glass paperweight, which had become common at the end of the eighteenth century. Snow globes became extremely popular following the Paris Universal Expo of 1878 and within a year there were already half a dozen companies in Europe producing snow globes. Originally, snow globes were made from a heavy lead glass dome on a sealed ceramic base, filled with water. The snow was created from fine pieces of porcelain, sand or bone chips.

The earliest snow globes are excessively rare and this proves a truly enchanting object. Surely nobody ever outgrows a snow globe?