Firework dragons, 1635.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving of one of master pyrotechnician John Babington's firework dragons attached to a mechanism which allowed it to move, and below, St George fighting a similar dragon. 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 a book from which this illustration comes, and which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised. This work, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', also dealt with geometry and the use of fireworks for military purposes.