Firework display, 1635.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving of a firework display with two large wooden castles and numerous devices bristling with fireworks. The letters 'CR' probably refer to King Charles I. Firework displays have been widely used for celebrations in Europe since the 16th century. Elaborate pyrotechnic effects were often created and used in a theatrical setting. In 1635, the master pyrotechnician John Babington published a book which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised. This work, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', dealt with geometry and the use of fireworks for military purposes. To this he added a supplement 'A short treatise of geometrie' from which this illustration comes.