The first man to patent a snow globe design was actually trying to create an improved piece of surgical lighting. In the late 19th century, an Austrian named Erwin Perzy was tinkering with a Schusterkugel—a special flask filled with water that had been used for centuries as a way to focus light. Perzy hoped to create a better surgical lamp by suspending bits of reflective material in the liquid. The sparkling effect reminded him of snow, and so he created a version of the flask with a model of an Austrian cathedral inside. When requests for more of his Schneekugel (snowball) began pouring in, he and his brother founded a business in Vienna to create them full-time. That family-run business continues today, and the precise material they use for their “snow” is a family secret that has been handed down over the generations.