DIY

This Is What The First Photographs Of Snowflakes Looked Like

Gorgeous photomicrographs from 1890.

1. Wilson A. Bentley is the guy you can thank for the phrase “special snowflake.”

The self-educated farmer was born in Jericho, Vermont in 1865 and had a lifelong love of snow. According to the Jericho Historical Society, he spent more than a year experimenting with different ways of taking photographs through a microscope. And in 1885, he became the first person to successfully photograph a single crystal of snow.

2. Here is a collection of his snowflake photographs from 1890…

Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la

7. According to The Smithsonian, Bentley photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes during his lifetime.

Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la

11. In 1925, he told The American Magazine that his work had led him to the belief that all snowflakes are unique.

Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la

14. Before his death (from the pneumonia he caught whilst walking in a blizzard), Bentley reflected on his love of snow, writing, “The farm folks, up in this north country, dread the winter; but I was supremely happy, from the day of the first snowfall.”

Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la
Wilson A. Bentley / Via dp.la

17. He also said:


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.

Wilson A. Bentley / Via Jessica Pyburn publicdomainreview.org

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