Brown University Library

Siemienowicz, Kazimierz

Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima
Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1650.

For over a century this classic manual on The Complete Art of Artillery provided the standard "recipes" for creating rockets, fire-balls, and other pyrotechnic effects. There are also German (1676) and English (1729) translations of this work in Special Collections.




Photograph 4a: Title-page.

Photograph 4b: Architectural
fountain fireworks display.


Kazimierz Siemienowicz
Artis magnae artilleriae pars prima ...
Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1650.
[At Far Left, Dupee Fireworks Collection]

Vollkomme Geschutz-Feuerwerch-und Buchsenmeisteren-Kunst ... Frankfurt am Main: In Verlegung Johann David Zunner, gedruckt bey HenrichFriessen, 1676.
[At Left, Dupee Fireworks Collection]

The great art of artillery of Casimir Siemienowicz ... London: J. Tonson, 1729. [Above, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection]

Kazimirz Siemienowicz, Lithuanian-born Lieutenant General of Ordnance in Service to the King of Poland, originally intended to write a two-part "Compleat Art of Artillery" but only the first part was finished before his death. The five sections of the Latin first edition deal with caliber, pyrotechnics, rockets, fire-balls and the building of firework set-pieces. Due to its specialized nature, this treatise became the standard "recipe book" for firework displays and the ulitmate, and often plagiarized, authority on military and recreational pyrotechnics for well over a century. This first edition is opened at the elaborately engraved title-page.

The first part of Daniel Elrich's 1676 translation is a quite faithful rendering of Simiemowicz's original Latin into German. However, Elrich then added new material of his own on the manufacture of saltpeter, the workings of a powder mill, and the construction of elaborate firework set-pieces, including a burning castle. This German edition is opened at illustrations of a rocket making shop and a selection of tools of the trade.

In 1729, by order to the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance, George Shelvocke, Jr. translated and published an English version of The Great Art of Artillery. He provided the sources for all of Simienowicz's many classical allusions and quotations and also added a few notes on rocket making that were based upon his own experience. The English edition is opened at an illustration of a firework set-piece featuring a fountain capped by a statue. A portion of the instructions for constructing this display are found on the facing page.

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