Vienna is home of the quintessential Christmas gift, the snow globe.
The Viennese snow globes are famous for having the slowest falling snow, clear alpine water and have the highest quality of glass globes.
If you’re looking for a traditional souvenir from Vienna, look no further than the original Viennese snow globes made by Perzy.
Since its invention by Erwin Perzy I, over 100 years ago, two more generations of the Perzy family have continued to create these handmade balls of wonder.
Their signature snow globes include historic and current Viennese themes such as St Stephen’s cathedral (Stephansdom) or the city’s Ferris wheel (Wiener Riesenrad).
Every year around 200,000 of these in-demand snow globes are assembled and shipped worldwide, from a 250-year- old building called Schumanngasse 87.
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Vienna, the Viennese snow globe factory resides in one of the old suburban houses in Hernals, one of the city’s outer districts.
The company’s Schneekugel Museum presents visitors with the largest selection of snow globes known to man.
The museum’s hall of fame has copies of Erwin Perzy III designs for three American presidents, the late Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
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Until the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency an Original Vienna snow globe sat on his desk in the Oval office.
The snow globe was from a friend of the President’s who had collected confetti from the inauguration celebrations, sent the confetti to Vienna and Erwin III cut the confetti smaller and used it instead of, “snow”.
Meanwhile, it turns out Barack Obama’s youngest daughter Sasha collects snow globes and a family friend had one made for President Obama shortly after his inauguration in 2008.
Erwin III says: “It’s a big honour making a snow globe for a President that’s why I only have the copies of their designs in the museum.”
Other of his well-known customers include pop star Robbie Williams, who during a tour in Vienna requested his wife Ava to visit the museum to have one made for him.
Erwin Perzy III aims to provide joy for his customers through snow globes and is currently working on a Grinch snow globe for a man that hates Christmas. Hence the joy of the snow globe.
He said: “There is a fascination with the snow globes because on the inside there is a clear world, a peaceful world. I really take care of the scenery and motifs I put in my snow globes.
“I would never use a tank, a gun or anything related with war in my snow globes. I mean sex, why not! Everything that is funny or peaceful and makes people happy, this is the place for the snowglobe,” he explained.
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During a tour of the museum guests are given a sneak-peak into how Erwin Perzy III constantly comes up with new motifs and is a passionate inventor like his grandfather.
Erwin Perzy III is supported by 10 workers in the company’s headquarters in Schmanngasse 87, who produce and assemble the larger assortment of globes roughly 1000 per day.
They also employ a further 40 artisians, these are the skilled ladies and gentlemen that work from home and paint the figurines. The recipe for the artificial snow is a guarded well-kept family secret which Erwin Perzy III is proud about.
He lovingly boasted: “The snow for each snow globe is made by me because it is my personal secret and no one knows about it so far, even my daughter doesn’t know.
Despite the company’s small size and the snow globe being considered a rare commodity, Erwin III still feels the future is bright for his craft and business.
However he does feel the pinch from his cheaper rivals in the Far East. He said: “ The big problem that I see for the future is that these days everything is made in China, all the toolmakers and all these new designs come from China now.“
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Unlike his competition, the company’s snow globes are hand painted and manually assembled, and the actual globe is still made of glass rather than plastic.
Looking to the future, Mr Perzy’s daughter currently works behind the scenes but will eventually take over the reins of the company.
Erwin III spoke of her difficulty in finding a place to train as a toolmaker, a far cry from her forefather’s snow globe experiences.
He said: “Most of the training companies in Vienna, even my company, will be closed if we don’t sell snow globes to Japan and to many other countries worldwide.”
Come what may, a proud Erwinn III is happy about the museum’s pulling power with visitors to Wien. He said: “I don’t know why people come here but it’s a hidden gem in Vienna, sometimes very special people show up in the museum. It’s a tourist highlight but you can’t compare it with St Stephens or Vienna’s Ferris Wheel or the castles.
“ We are too small to handle thousands of people but it is a nice place that attracts people from all over the world.”
The Original Vienna Snowglobe company globes are available on their website, in Vienna’s Christmas markets and in the museum.
For more information on Vienna, head to the Wien.info website.
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