“Artificial Fire Works” (from Parley’s Magazine, September 1836; pp. 275-276)
New York, July 18, 1836.
I was lately reading a book entitled “The Week Day Book,” in which I observed a description of a boy making artificial fire-works. It referred to the Boy’s Own Book. I have looked the Boy’s Own Book all over, and I cannot find any thing about it. I think it must be in the English edition.
If you would be so kind as to insert the above, and give a description how to make the “artificial fire works,” you would oblige me and many of your readers very much.
Reply. We have looked over several books, in order to find out the method of making fire works, in the hope of gratifying P. S. and other readers; but have found nothing to the purpose, except the following, from the Encyclopedia Americana. Even this is in a style which we fear some of our readers will not be able fully to comprehend; but we have not thought it best to alter it.
“The ingredients (of artifical fire works) are, 1st, Saltpetre, purified for the purpose. 2d, Sulphur. 3d, Charcoal. gunpowder is likewise used in the composition of fire works; being first ground, or as it is technically called mealed. Camphor and gum-benzoin are employed as ingredients in odoriferous fire works.
“The proportions of the materials differ very much in different fire works, and the utmost care and precaution are necessary in working them to a state fit for use, and then in the mixing.
“When stars are wanted, camphor, alcohol, antimony and other ingredients are required, according as the stars are to be blue, white, &c. In some cases gold and silver rain is required; then
brass dust, steel dust, saw dust, &c. enter into the composition. Hence the varieites may be almost indefinite.
“With respect to color, sulphur gives a blue, camphor a white or pale color, saltpetre a clear white yellow, salammoniac a green, antimony a reddish, rosin a copper color.”
A laboratory, at the Castle Garden, in New York, was blown up a few weeks ago; and in it about $2,000 worth of artificial fire works. We suppose they are made in the laboratory, in large quantities, to sell.
On the whole we are hardly sorry that we can find nothing more definite on this subject, for we believe there are a thousand better ways of amusing ourselves, and others, than by means of artificial fire works.
“Fire Works” (from Parley’s Magazine, October 1836; p. 308)
Observing that your correspondent who signs himself P. S. wishes to know how to make artificial fire-works, and you have given him the direction for making real fire-works, I should say for his information that the English edition of the “Boy’s Own Book" contains the process of making them. They are totally different from the fire-works that you have described, being made by the reflection of light on transparent paper of different colours, cut out and pierced in a proper shape, and are therefore a safe, pleasant, and interesting amusement. The article is long, and illustrated by numerous engravings, or I would transcribe it.
H. T. P.
Boston, Sept. 3, 1836.