Title page from Babington's 'Pyrotechnia', 1635.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
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 this book, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised.