This phrase was coined by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), a self taught farmer and photographer from Jericho, Vermont. As a teenager, he became fascinated with snowflakes and capturing their images. His parents spent their savings to purchase him a bellows camera with its own microscope, thus launching Bentley as a pioneer in the area of photomicrography. He is credited with having taken the first
photograph of a snowflake in 1885.
Bentley photographed over 5000 snow “crystals” or snowflakes in his lifetime, publishing the 1931 book Snow Crystals, containing more than 2400 images. He also published numerous articles on his work and his much sought after glass plate negatives have been collected by colleges and universities across America.
A wonderful introduction to Bentley’s work is the youth biography Snowflake Bentley written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Vermont artist Mary Azarian. The book won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American Picture Book in 1999.
Visit the official Snowflake Bentley website, maintained by the Jericho Historical Foundation, for a wealth of resources related to Mr. Bentley’s work and the magical snowflake images he managed to capture forever in time.