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"Designs for artificial fire works" manuscript

circa 1780
 Collection
Accession: 1986

Abstract

By the time this manuscript was written in the late eighteenth century, the inclusion of fireworks at celebrations across Europe had been well-established for centuries. In the second half of the eighteenth century, commercial firework displays in particular rose in popularity among audiences across the social spectrum. This collection is comprised of a single manuscript volume with contemporary binding, quarter leather, with marbled paper over boards, all edges speckled in red, and silk endbands. Produced in England circa 1780, the volume consists of 13 leaves containing ink drawings of designs for artificial fireworks.

Dates

  • circa 1780

Creator

Extent

1 volume(s)

Historical Note

By the time this manuscript was written in the late eighteenth century, the inclusion of fireworks at celebrations across Europe had been well-established for centuries. In 1749, England had witnessed the largest fireworks display in that country up to that time at Green Park in London, given in celebration of the end of the War of Austrian Succession. The show was staged by a group of notable Italian pyrotechnists and included music composed for the occasion by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). However, the event attracted vocal criticism for the expense incurred to put on the show, and such large courtly firework productions lost favor for a time. Commercial firework displays, alternatively, rose in popularity among audiences across the social spectrum, particularly as evening entertainment offered at London's pleasure gardens such as Vauxhall, Ranelagh, and Marylebone.

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of a single manuscript volume with contemporary binding, quarter leather, with marbled paper over boards, all edges speckled in red, and silk end-bands. Produced in England circa 1780, the volume consists of thirteen leaves containing ink drawings of designs for artificial fireworks. Designs include "Illuminated piece," "Brilliant star," "Fixed piece," "Brilliant piece," "Six-pointed star," "Brilliant star," "Thunder wheel & semicircle," "Cascade illuminated," and "Illuminated vase." The author, "W.M.M.," describes a final design as "the most striking device I ever saw in fireworks. The half circles meeting in opposite directions, with portfires illumination, has a most curious appearance. I saw it at Holkham 178[8?] at Mr. Coke's Grand Fete." "Mr. Coke" is presumably Thomas William Coke, Earl of Leicester (1752-1842).

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Bibliography

Werrett, Simon. 2010. Fireworks: pyrotechnic arts and sciences in European history. Chicago, Ill: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Subjects

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
"Designs for artificial fire works" manuscript
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2022: Angela Schad

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400