|A System of Pyrotechny (All 4 volumes, bound into two books)
George Cutbush, A.S. U.S.A. (1788-1823)
A System of Pyrotechny
comprehending the theory and practice,
with the application of chemistry; designed for exhibition and for war.
In four parts, containing an account of the substances used in fireworks;
the instruments, utensils, and manipulations; fireworks for exhibition; and military pyrotechny.
Adapted to the Military and naval office, the man of science, and artificer.
By James Cutbush, A.S. U.S.A.
Late acting professor of chemistry and mineralogy, in the United States Military Academy,
Member of the American Philosophical Society, Corresponding member of the Columbian Institute,
Member of the Linnaean and Agricultural Societies &c &c &c
One of the most important pyrotechnic works of the 19th Century!
Huge, comprehensive, and complete -- four volumes (conveniently bound into two thick books), with 665 pages -- a landmark in the history of pyrotechny and the first major American contribution to the literature of fireworks. Very big, very thick, very heavy, dense with information about every aspect of the art and craft.
A masterwork and notable contribution based on careful experimental study by Professor Cutbush at the United States Military Academy at West Point. (Cutbush was also the author of the first chemical textbook by an American, published in 1813.) Cutbush died at age 35; the book was first published by his widow in 1825.
While ultra-modern texts are important and useful to the professional pyrotechnist, most of us don't have access to the sophisticated and expensive chemicals they specify. Fireworks haven't changed that much over the past 200 years, and classic books like this offer many suggestions for working with more common, "old fashioned" industrial ingredients.
James Cutbush (1788-1823) is frequently titled "Dr. Cutbush," but there's no detailed information available about his education. He was a Mason, together with many other distinguished Philadelphia citizens of the time. Cutbush ran a Philadelphia "chemist and apothecary" shop in 1919, apparently offering useful compounds to fellow experimenters. He was elected president of the Columbian Chemical Society, and was an active member of several other scientific bodies. In 1813 he published "Philosophy of Experimental Chemistry," which became popular text. He was appointed Assistant Apothecary General in the U.S. Army in 1814, and became Chief Medical Officer at the West Point Military Academy in 1820.
Cutbush had an early interest in explosives. In 1808, at age 20, he wrote an article about mercury fulminate, declaring--incorrectly--that the substance was really mercury oxalate. (This text also goes into depth about fulminates and their manufacture.)
Cutbush also wrote frequent science articles in the Philadelphia Aurora newspaper. In one he asked "How much nitre [potassium nitrate] could be manufactured from the refuse animal and vegetable matter of the City of Philadelphia in case of emergency? What quantity could be prepared by elixating or washing the rubbish of old buildings, the earth of stables, cellars, etc., and the soil of certain tracts of the United States?"
He became one of the active chemists who stimulated thousands of non-scientists to explore the possibilities of chemistry in the early 1800s, especially as a popular lecturer, giving talks about such varied topics as chemistry, theoretical and practical pharmacy, and fireworks.
Almost all of the chemicals used in this formulary are standard commercial products. Some are now sold under "newer names," but almost all can be found from usual suppliers.
Whether you experiment with fireworks or simply want to extend your education about this fascinating art, craft, and science, this fine book will be a valuable addition to your library. (Amateur and model rocket experimenters will find many ideas for those, too.)
Cutbush is a genuine collector's item. Hard-to-find, and long out of print, original editions sell for $1,000.00 and more. This republished edition was found at a commercial pyrotechnics exhibition in Macao some years ago. We have only one small case of these rare books--they won't last long, we're afraid.
With index and vocabulary for French terms.
- Substances used in fireworks
- Saltpeter, potassium chlorate, sulfur, phosphorus
- Charcoal, gunpowder, fulminates
- Detonating oils and powders
- Wood ashes, glass, galbanum, hemp, strontia, vitriol
- Instruments, tools, and utensils
- Mandrels and cylinders for forming cartridges and cases
- Rammers, charges, mallets
- Utensils for constructing rockets
- Mortars and pestles, sieves, paper presses
- Fireworks operations and manipulations
- Making wheels etc non-combustible
- Making rocket and other cases
- Tourbillon cases and paper shells
- Observations on fireworks
- Fireworks for theatrical purposes
- Puffs, eruptions, plumes, fire-rain, thunderbolts, dragons, lightning
- Colored flames for alcohol
- Tabletop exhibitions, table rockets
- Matches, leaders, and touch paper
- Decorations for fireworks
- Serpents, crackers, reports, stars
- Chinese flyers, cracking stars, fire-rain, sparks
- Gold-rain, rain falls, Italian roses, lances, marrons, saucissons
- Fire-pumps, Volcano of Lemery
- Blue and green match, purple or violet match
- About rockets and their appendages
- Propellant compositions and mixing
- Rocket headings, decorations, sticks
- Swarmers, small rockets, line-rockets, signal sky-rockets
- Sundry "air-works" fireworks
- Composition and forming gerbes
- Fire-jets and fire-spouts
- Hydrogen gas in fireworks
- Fixing and arranging fireworks for exhibition
- Palm trees, pyramids, dodecahedron, cascade of fire
- And dozens of other exotic items not usually made or seen these days
- Fire globes for the water
- Water balloons and squibs, and many more water novelties
- Arrangement of fireworks for exhibition
- Cartridges and cannon cartridges
- Slow match, quick match, priming tubes
- Fuses for shells, howitzers, and grenades
- Charging fuses of bombs or shells
- Loading shells, howitzers, and grenades
- Dimensions of fuses, and charges for bombs etc
- Fireballs, smoke balls, stink balls, poisoned balls
- Red-hot balls, torches, powder bags
- Stink-fire lances, infernal machines, torpedoes, sea lights
And dozens of other very unusual and creative pyrotechnic devices
- Signal and war rockets, rocket light-balls, mines and mining
Very big, very thick, very heavy, and truly dense with information about every aspect of the art and craft. We would probably select Weingart and Davis first, but this fine book belongs in the library of every serious pyrotechnist and student of the art. It's a precious combination of art, craft, science, and history--delightful reading for weeks on end!
5.5" x 8.5"; bound in two volumes, totaling 665 pages. $39.95
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