First Photos of Snowflakes For Sale


Image from the Guardian

Maybe everyone is getting sick of looking at snow, but these vintage photographs of snowflakes will be gone soon so better look now... Taken by a self-educated Vermont farmer, Wilson A. Bentley at the end of the 1800's, they are the first photos of snow ever taken.

Ten of them are up for auction but in fact the photographer was a little obsessive and took thousands (as in 5,000) of the images. And no two were ever alike. He began by trying to draw them but the snow melted before he could finish. So his parents got him a camera and that's how a life's work started...


Images from the Guardian

They called him "Snowflake Bentley." He sums up his life's work this way:

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."


He was self-educated and worked from the time he was 19 years old to perfect his technique. He hooked up a microscope to a bellows camera and spent the rest of his life photographing flakes through trial and error.

If you happen to be in Jericho Vermont, there is a museum dedicated to his work. There are 2,000 of his prints to be found there. In 1931 he published a book "Snow Crystals", containing more than 2,400 snow crystal images, but it has long been out of print. However there is a nearly identical paper back still available.

He died in 1931, apparently after walking home in a blizzard.

More on Snowflakes
The Unbelievable World of Snowflakes