Fourth of July Fireworks, 1887

“Those storekeepers who cater to the wants of the small boy are beginning to decorate their show windows with fireworks,” observed the June 14, 1887, issue of Lincoln’s Daily State Democrat. “Though there has been no official dictum, the impression prevails in these quarters that Mayor [A. J.] Sawyer will follow the precedent of the last fifteen years and permit youthful patriotism to assert itself under the usual restrictions.

“In view of the custom in this city of having elaborate pyrotechnic displays by the union of a number of families or of the inhabitants of a district, some of our dealers in fireworks have in stock elaborate and expensive set pieces. The dealers say there has been from year to year an increase in demand for fireworks of the better class and this year they expect a rushing business. Fireworks are cheaper this year than ever before. And, best of all, the new sorts of fireworks are much safer than the old kind. They are made so there is much less danger to those who do the touching off.

“There are a lot of novelties this season. Roman candles always have been the favorite and this year their popularity is likely to be increased by the introduction of a candle that discharges ruby colored balls that are said to be very pretty. New colored fires are also introduced in a variety of pieces. The latest thing in rockets is made to soar to a great hight and then burst with a great shower of rubies, followed by a cloud of sappheir [sapphire] meteors, and later by a third burst of emeralds. Some rockets are made to leave a trail of gaily colored jewels like the tail of a comet. Another kind are made for noise. Way up in the air they burst, with a loud detonation. They make a great racket.

“Another novelty in set pieces is a little thing that looks like a pill box. When it is touched off it commences to whirl around and throws out a series of sparks, making an excellent imitation of a tiger lily. Chinese rattan bombs are to be introduced here this year. A package of fire cracker powder is wrapped again and again with split-rattan, and when it is set off on a lawn it goes off with a report like a big cannon. In fire crackers resin is now used at the ends so as not to confine the powder better than formerly, and the consequence is that they make more noise.”

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