At the present time, there are numerous advantages enjoyed by the maker of fireworks, which were wholly unknown to his predecessors. Thus, for example, the paper used for the making of cases is prepared at the paper mill in the exact manner necessary, so that no preliminary treatment of the sheets is required before the actual rolling of the case. The amount of time and labor directly saved by this process is considerable. But of far more importance is the fact that, for the ordinary purposes of firework-manufacture, the materials of the various compositions are procurable in a condition that approximates chemical purity. The result is a vast saving of labor on the part of the artificer. He is spared tedious, and oftentimes difficult, tasks. Such various aids, together with the mechanical assistance he now enjoys, enable the manufacturer to give full attention to those details that increase the variety and brilliancy of the spectacular displays produced.

Yet, curiously enough, there has been hardly any essential change in theory and practise since the days when the French artificers flourished. The methods now employed are in their integrity strictly a continuance of those practised long ago. They are modified in many respects, sometimes developed highly, but they remain essentially identical. The various stages of the manufacture show no particular variation from the processes already described in detail, and this is true even in those instances where machinery takes the place of hand labor. The rolling of the cases, the loading of them, and the attaching of the fuses, all alike are merely repetitions of a former manner. The variation is so slight as to be negligible. For example, the artificer of a former age deemed it necessary to test the balancing point for each individual rocket, and so balanced it on a knife blade. The present method foregoes such particularity. The manufacturer to-day finds that the best efficiency in rocket construction is gained when the balancing point is close to the bottom of the case, instead of 1 inch down on the stick, which was the point of equilibrium for the French artificer. Moreover, the manufacturer now is able to dispense with such critical examination of each rocket separately. The exactitude of the various processes is so nearly complete that, once the proper equilibrium of the firework is determined, it is automatically assured in the general production.

The modern improvement of chief importance is that gained by the use of new materials for various color effects. This is at once apparent when we consider the different fires used for garnitures of rockets. In a general way, the composition is manipulated just as it was two centuries ago. The variations are of the slightest. The proper composition is mixed with white of egg to make a thick paste, or gum arabic may be used for the same purpose, in a proportion of from 16 to 18 grams to a liter of water. The paste is rolled on a stone slab until it is reduced to about the thickness of one's little finger, and is then cut into small cubes. These cubes are rolled on a table sprinkled with fine powder, and when thoroughly dry, are ready for use.

It is in the composition itself that we discover the great advance of to-day over a former period. Thus, for white stars, a number of formulas may be given as follows:

1st.

2d.

3d.

4th.

5th.

Niter.................................

10

16

16 1/2

16

12

Sulphur........................................

8

8

5

--

4

Powder.................................

3

5

6

10

__

Antimony ......................

-------

2

6

---

2

Zinc filings.......................

------

6

2

Red arsenic (realgar)..................

------

__

2

For yellow stars, a formula is as follows:

Nitrate of sodium................................

12

Charcoal......................................................

3

Sulphur.............................

4 1/2

Bicarbonate of soda........................

1

Sulphate of strontium.................................

1

In the formula above, nitrate of strontium may be used in place of the sulphate. In this case, the proportion, instead of being one, is either one-half or three-quarters.

The formula for golden yellow is as follows:

Chlorate of potash.................

5

Bicarbonate of sod....................

1

Shellac.............

1

The formulas for green are as follows:

1st.

2d.

Chlorate of potash......................

7

7

Shellac............................

3

3 1/2

Nitrate of barium.......................

10

12

Black smoke............................

1.3

Other formulas for green fire are the following:

1st

2d.

Chlorate of barium.....................

5

3

Nitrate of barium.........

2

-

Chloride of mercury (calomel)..................

1

1

Shellac.............................

1

1/2

The formula for blue is as follows:

Chlorate of potash.......................

5

Ammonium sulphate of copper......................

1

Shellac.......................

1

The formula for a rosy flame is as follows:

Chlorate of potash.......................

12

Chlorate of strontium..............................

3

Carbonate of copper.....................

2

Shellac....................

1 1/2

Sulphur...........................

2