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Snow Crystals (Dover Pictorial Archive) Paperback – June 1, 1962

39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Offers valuable material not only to students of crystallography but also to those of the arts."—The New York Times
Did you ever try to photograph a snowflake? The procedure is very tricky. The work must be done rapidly in extreme cold, for even body heat can melt a rare specimen that has been painstakingly mounted. The lighting must be just right to reveal all the nuances of design without producing heat. But the results can be rewarding, as the work of W. A. Bentley proved.
For almost half a century, Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snowflakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered together the best of these photomicrographs, plus some slides of frost, glaze, dew on vegetation and spider webs, sleet, and soft hail, and a text by W. J. Humphreys, and had them published. That book is here reproduced, unaltered, and unabridged. Over 2,000 beautiful crystals on these pages reveal the wonder of nature's diversity in uniformity; no two are alike, yet all are based on a common hexagon.
The introductory text covers the technique of photographing snow crystals, classification, the fundamentals of crystallography, and markings. There are also brief discussions of the nature and cause of ice flowers, windowpane frost, dew, rime, sleet, and graupel.
The book is of great value both to students of ice forms and for textile and other designers who can use the natural designs of these snow crystals in their work. Every photograph is royalty-free; you may use up to 10 without fees, permission, or acknowledgement.
"A most unusual and very readable book."—Nature


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Pictorial Archive
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 1St Edition edition (June 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486202879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486202877
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Mike Christie on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
W.A. Bentley spent fifty years painstakingly recording snowflakes, frost, rime, sleet and ice in all its forms. Even before "Snow Crystals" was published in 1931, his work was well known, and so popular that eventually a donor provided the (apparently large) amount of money needed to assemble this beautiful collection.
There is a small amount of text at the front of the book, which is moderately interesting. It contains a description of how to take these pictures for yourself, if you'd like to; and a classification of the kinds of snowflake and other ice forms depicted here. The bulk of the book, however, is made up of well over two thousand black and white photographs, the vast majority of them of single snowflakes. You can get an idea of what they look like by clicking on Amazon's image of the cover picture, above; in the book, the images are white on black. You may also want to visit, which contains more examples, and more information about Bentley himself (there is almost none in this book). In most or all cases, Bentley went to the trouble of making a duplicate negative of each snowflake and then cutting out, by hand, the finely detailed image, so that the background to the picture would be pure black.
The results are spectacular. The snowflakes are ethereally beautiful, and the variety is just stunning. However, in case it's not clear from what I've said so far, this is a contemplative book. It's not a book to read: it's a book to browse through, put away, and get out again another snowy day. Children will like it, but just to glance at, not to go through steadily.
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92 of 92 people found the following review helpful By The Unplain Jane on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
In case you are trying to decide between "Snowflakes in Photographs" and "Snow Crystals", both by Bentley and published by Dover, this book is the better deal. Ironically, you get twice as many snowflake photos in "Snow Crystals" than in "Snowflakes in Photographs". Both beautiful books feature stunning black and white photographs of snowflakes but this book definitely has better 'text' support. I bought the two books at the same time thinking that this one focused more on Bentley and the other one focused more on the pictures, but it was a mistake. This is a case of "you get what you pay for" and the only reason to buy "Snowflakes in Photographs" over this one is that it is a bit cheaper. Buy "Snow Crystals", it is a blizzard of beauty with gorgeous photographs of snowflakes, nature's fragile crystalline miracles.
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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Jerome Collins on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book will amaze you. It has been in print for 65 years and the copy in our family comes out every holiday season and is greeted like an old friend. Writing and photo illustrations by W. A. Bentley. Reprint of the original 1931 edition. The first time I looked into this book and flipped through the pages, I was hooked. Over 2400 photographs of individual snow crystals! Categorized and compared in all their individuality. Gives meaning to "No two snowflakes are alike!" This is a gift for the gifted child in your life, written by a gifted child who spent his life in the single minded pursuit of recording the diversity and uniqueness of the amazingly ephemeral snowflake. I didn't know there was a hard cover edition. Go ahead and get it in hard cover. You are going to keep it a long time.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Duwayne Anderson on May 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book has 226 pages, most of which consist of black and white photographs of snow and ice crystals. You might think that photographing snow crystals is no different than photographing other inanimate objects, but it's not true. Obtaining high-quality photographs of snow and ice crystals takes great work and perseverance, and you don't just find a library of such things lying about anywhere.
The book contains more than just photographs. Part one has some really interesting stuff on different techniques used throughout history for reproducing the images of snow and ice crystals, along with some very interesting descriptions about the preparation and effort that go into taking a high-quality photographic plates. This section also describes how the crystals are classified, and some meteorological background information about how these crystals form, and how their structure leads to other phenomena in nature, such as the rings you sometimes observe around a bright moon on a cold winter night.
Part 2 is only a few pages long (compared with part 1, which is 20) and discusses related phenomena such as the frost on windowpanes, dew and frost, rime ice, and glaze. Most of the book (pages 24 through 226) consists of reproductions of photographic plates showing snow crystals, with examples also of ice, window-pane frost, dew and frost, and glaze. A typical page shows 12 snow crystals, so there well over 2,000 examples in this book of just about every six-pointed crystal you can imagine.
Now for the really interesting part. You've heard that no two snowflakes are the same. Right? Well, read this book very carefully.
Read more ›
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Scott M. Kruse on July 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bentley's work is a classic and shows that good science is persistence with attention to detail. Bentley's methods are reproducible by student scientists, professionals and the public.
The book helps challenge the stereotypical "snowflake" (a spatial dendrite) reproduced in K-12 classrooms and commercial store windows. The International Classification of Snow has 80 "basic" types of snow crystals. This book helps everyone make sense of all types. Snow is unique in that it is the most unstable substance on Earth - constantly changing while it is forming, falling and continuing to change once it reaches ground. Even those areas that never experience snow (falling during a storm or accumulated on the ground) actually receive much of their precipitation as snow - the crystals just happen to melt on the way down to the ground.
A 10-year boy once provided me with a simple explanation of what snow really is: "Dead clouds!" Bentley helps us see inside the clouds and inside snowflakes - a special, long-term gift.
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