Water-filled glass snowglobes (aka snowdomes) originated in France in the late 1800s and gained popularity in the U.S. as a promotional item for thousands of travel destinations and roadside attractions.
Up through WW2, crudely fashioned glass snow globes were primarily novelties in the U.S., issued for Christmas or as keepsakes for events like the 1939 New York World's Fair. After WW2 came a desire for more fun souvenirs, however, and colorfully decorated glass disks and Italian shell based globes showed up. By the early 1960’s, souvenir snow globes had been overtaken over by the plastic Hong Kong made snow dome.
Snowglobes were integrally linked with early roadside travel, as early tourist amusement parks, motels, and restaurants needed to stand out from the crowd. Not mention famous landmarks, museums, caverns and caves, missions or old homes of famous people, trains rides, miniature golf, gardens, trained bear acts, animal parks and storybook castles. You name it and they sold snow globes!
Up through the 1960s, most American snowdomes were designed and manufactured by one of three companies, The Karol Western Corporation, Nanco, and the Allen-Lewis Manufacturing Company (they also made salt and peppers shakers, glasses, pennants, ashtrays, souvenir buildings, tablecloths and scarves).
With vintage souvenir snowdomes, rarity and condition are king. Rarity is usually determined by the customized scenic panels representing remote or abandoned locations and attractions.