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Dictionary of Pyrotechnics

A quality reprint of the very first published edition of the all-time classic fireworks text
by George Washington Weingart


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                        out-of-print, and historic books about rockets,
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Dictionary of Pyrotechnics

"A complete Manual covering the author's work and experiments from 1890 to 1930"

A quality reprint of the very first published edition of the all-time classic fireworks text
by George Washington Weingart


Under its many editions, Weingart's books remains the all-time classic textbooks on this subject.  For more than 50 years, his texts have been the best-selling books on how to make fireworks--firecrackers, Roman candles, skyrockets, pinwheels, colored torches and smokes--hundreds of designs are described in detail.  Weingart is already on the reference shelf of every serious pyrotechnician.

And here's the very first of Weingart's manuscripts on fireworks--an important scientific document and rare "collector's item!"


In 1930, Weingart sat down at his old-fashion, manual typewriter and came up with this 155-page document, which would eventually educate thousands of experimenters for more than half a century.  While he calls it a "dictionary," it's actually a how-to manual and formulary par excellance.


We searched research libraries and universities, booksellers and flea markets for more than 30 years before we found this high-quality reproduction of his original mimeographed manuscript, printed in Japan.  Although first circulated almost 75 years ago, it's a sharp, clear bound edition of high resolution--not a cheap photocopy.

(Later editions of this book, with a few additions and changes, were published under such titles as "Pyrotechnics" and "Pyrotechnics Civil and Military.")

From the beginning, Weingart's books have been loaded with composition formulae and detailed instructions, drawings, and diagrams (and they remain a solid foundation for learning the "how-tos" of time-honored tools and technology.  Exhaustive sections on ingredients, "manipulation," products of manufacture and formulas, exhibition fireworks, miscellaneous, glossary, and book references.  The fireworks mixtures in this book are mostly made with common ingredients available most everywhere: potassium nitrate (saltpeter), charcoal, sulfur, metal filings, and the like. 

Topics covered in this important work include:

  • Pyrotechnic ingredients
  • Manipulation of fireworks compositions and devices, including:
    • Case rolling
    • Roman candle cases
    • Sky rockets
    • Mine cases
    • Floral shell guns
    • Gerbes
    • Shell cases
    • Canister (cylindrical) shells
    • Drying cases
    • Formers, paste, crimping, and ramming
    • Matching, priming, finishing, wrapping, wiring, tying, designing
  • Articles of manufacture and recipes
    • Match and fuse
    • Tableau fire and torches
    • Ship lights and distress signals
    • Bengolas and airplane flares
    • Wing-tip flares and rocket smoke tracers
    • Roman candles and skyrockets (many, many kinds)
    • Tourbillions, pin wheels, serpents, chasers
    • Fountains, gerbes, flower pots, revolving pieces
    • Stars (many, many kinds) and comets
    • Lance work
    • Bomb shells (many kinds)
    • Parachute shells, balloons and balloon inflaters
    • Cannon crackers, flash crackers, torpedoes, paper caps
    • Whistling fireworks
    • Pharaoh's serpents, snake nests
    • Colored flames and fire sticks
    • Sparklers, water fireworks, smoke and spark pots
    • Smoke screens, colored smokes, smoke shells
    • Exhibition fireworks
  • Set pieces
  • Chinese firecrackers
Not too heavy on theory, but thick and rich with materials, technique, tools, and methods.  This is really a historic "how-to" book par excellance.

Has 85 hand-drawn illustrations by Mr Weingart, mostly showing tools of the trade and how to use them.

Illustrations include drawings by the author (like these, but much larger)

There are also precise dimensions and specifications for making fireworks cases

Most important are the hundreds of original, detailed formulae;
all are well-proven, and most use common ingredients

Here's the way commercial skyrockets were made, using black powder and paper cases

There are also illustrations for how to make high-performance display shells


Weingart is widely regarded as the "grandfather" of American pyrotechics.  He describes, in great detail, such topics as case rolling and drying, priming, finishing, match, fuse, torches, signal lights, sky rockets, pinwheels, fountains, revolving pieces, wheels, stars, bombshells, balloons, "cannon crackers," whistling fireworks, paper caps, colored flames, smokes, "rocket wheels," "living fireworks," and much, much more.

How do the Chinese make those firecrackers?  There's detailed descriptions, including making Chinese-type fireworks fuse.

Skyrockets?  This book tells how they've been made, for centuries, with simple mandrels and ramming tools.

When it comes to making tubes and cases for your fireworks, Weingart lists the exact sizes of paper to use, with detailed dimensions for each size of device.  There are many drawings of fireworks tools and equipment--all of which you can make yourself from these ideas.

One of our favorite parts is in the back.  It shows, with photos and drawings, exactly how the Chinese make traditional firecrackers and fuse!  With these instructions we made hundreds of them, in only a few minutes, from scrap newspaper!  And they really worked--crisp, loud "bangs" and as reliable as any made in Macau!

If you're thinking of making some fireworks, or want to better understand what goes into them and how they're made, this book is an excellent text to begin with.  (Most of the other books on pyrotechnics either require hard-to-find ingredients, or employ tools and techniques too advanced for most experimenters.)

By the way, if you're considering making experimental rocket motors, you'll want a copy of David Sleeter's new masterpiece, "Amateur Rocket Motor Construction."  We offer that fine book too.  (Sleeter shows you how to make your own Chile saltpeter, refine fertilizer-grade KNO3, mix high-power rocket fuels, and much, much more.)


If you're building a pyrotechnics library, this is one of the the first books to have. 

There have been only a very few authoritative and comprehensive books about making fireworks by American authors over the last 200 years, and this is one of them.  Dr. James Cutbush's "System of Pyrotechny" (1825) was the first, and we think this was the second--soon followed by Dr. Tenney L. Davis' "Chemistry of Powder and Explosives" (1941).  Every serious pyrotechnist will have them all.

This is a newly-republished edition of the 1930 classic from Japan.  A company there digitally restored it, apparently from an original, first edition manuscript.  This is a nice quality reprint at an affordable price.  It's printed on fairly thin paper that's not very "bright white," approx 10 x 8 inches, 155 pages, nicely paperbound. $24.95.


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