Frontispiece from Babington's Pyrotechnia, 1635.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustrated title page engraved by John Droeshout with a portrait of the author John Babington who was a gunner, mathematician and master pyrotechnician. Also shown are mechanical effects and at the top, two castles sprouting fire with a St George and dragon device in between. 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, Babington published this book, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised. 'Pyrotechnia' also dealt with geometry and the use of fireworks for military purposes.