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FIRST DESCRIPTION OF A ‘PINWHEEL’ FIREWORK
WITH A 37-PAGE SUPPLEMENT
NOT IN THE FIRST EDITION
[FIREWORKS] BLÜMEL, Johann Daniel / HÖCKELY, Michael, ed. Gründliche Anweisung z. Lust- Feuerwerkerey, besonders in denjenigen Stücken, die das Auge der Zuschauer am meisten erlustigen und in Verwunderung setzen…. Strasbourg, A. König, 1771.
4to [20.4 x 15.9 cm], (3) ff., 180 pp., 10 folding engraved plates. Bound in contemporary quarter calf and speckled papers over boards, spine with raised bands, calf corners, title label on spine gilt. Some wear to boards and extremities, generally very good.
$2,850 Second augmented edition of Blümel’s practical guide to the manufacture and use of recreational fireworks with the addition of a 37-page supplement by Höckely not present in the first edition on indoor fireworks and one additional plate giving the first printed description of a pinwheel, or Catherine wheel firework. (Philip) Blümel, whom the title identifies as an artillery captain, begins with a discussion of the basic elements of fireworks – saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal – and then gives detailed instructions on how to construct different types of rockets, flares and firecrackers. The text is illustrated with nine folding plates depicting Blümel’s constructions.
Höckely’s contribution is preceded by an editor’s preface explaining that the first edition of Blümel’s book had called for experts to come forward with “something new and beautiful” in the field of fireworks. Höckely, whose innovations in the martial applications of fireworks were documented in the Journal Encyclopedique of 1766, responded with his own manual on indoor pyrotechnics. These include novelties such as after-dinner fireworks which light up a guest’s name in flames, and a decorative spinning wheel in the shape of a flower. The latter invention is depicted on a folding plate. Published a year after Louis XV honored his daughter-in-law Marie Antoinette with the most extravagant fireworks display of the Baroque, Blümel and Höckely’s manual testifies to the extraordinary contemporary fascination with recreational pyrotechnics.
For the first edition, OCLC lists Cal State, Kansas and Brown. For the present edition, Oklahoma, Brown, NYPL and Penn.
* Chris Philip, A Bibliography of Firework Books, B130.2; Berlin Kat. 3306; Engelmann, Bibl. Mechanica 43.
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