The World’s First Pictures of Snowflakes
What you see above are not drawings. They are the first pictures of snowflakes ever taken. An ambitious young man with a camera and microscope wanted to show the world just how unique snowflakes are, and he did. He became to be known as “The Snowflake Man”.
In 1885 at the age of 20, Wilson Bentley was a farmer and a self-taught photographer who lived his entire life in the small town of Jericho in Vermont. He gave the world its first ever photograph of a snowflake. Bentley captured over 5,000 snowflakes, or more correctly snow crystals, on film. Despite the fact that he rarely left Jericho, thousands of Americans knew him as “The Snowflake Man” or simply “Snowflake Bentley”. Our belief that no two snowflakes are alike is true and was proved by Bentley’s work. The expression stems from a line in a 1925 report in which he remarked, “Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost.”
It started with a microscope his mother gave him at the age 15 which opened up the world of the very small to young Wilson. A lover of winter, he made plans to use his microscope to view snowflakes. His initial investigations proved both fascinating and frustrating as he tried to observe the short-lived flakes. Wanting to share his discoveries, he began by sketching what he saw, accumulating several hundred sketches by his 17th birthday. When his father purchased a camera for his son, Wilson combined it with his microscope, and he went on to make his first successful photo micrograph of a snow crystal on January 15, 1885.