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Until within the last few years there was scarcely any work in English, that I am aware of, on the subject of Pyrotechny, worth reading, with the exception of an Article in "Brewster's Cyclopædia," by MacCulloch; and this, besides being accessible to only a few, having been published in 1830, made no mention of colours, which form the most beautiful part of the art.
In the first year of the present century a treatise was written by a Captain Jones, which has been copied, in whole or in part, into almost every work since published. The greater portion of it is absurd and impracticable, and shows that it was written by a person who undertook to teach what he had not learnt.
The first work of any real utility that came under my notice was a series of papers by "Practicus." This was soon followed by another, varied by the new chemical nomenclature.
The subject is far from being treated exhaustively in either of these works, so that I trust the reader will find in the following pages a fund of information, both in the repertory of recipes and the methods of manipulation.
To Chertier belongs the great improvement in colours. He was, as I was informed by the late Mr. Southby, who knew him personally, and who derived much information from him while in Paris, a retired French Artillery Officer, who made colours "his study and theme." His "New Researches," published in 1856, nearly thirty years after his first pamphlet, is an excellent work, that leaves little to be desired in the way of colours. Gunpowder attracted but little of his attention.
Tessier, of Paris, has written, since, his "Pyrotechnic Chemistry," and a new edition of the "Firework-Maker," by Hutstein and Websky, was published three or four years ago at Breslau.
I have neglected none of these sources of information, but do not know that I have been able to learn much from them with which I was not previously acquainted.