pedoes were formerly filled with compositions containing chlorate and red phosphorus, similar to those which are used in toy caps; but these mixtures are dangerous and much more sensitive than«
is necessary. At present, safer perchlorate mixtures without phosphorus are used. The following compositions (Allen F. Clark) can be mixed dry and yield railway torpedoes wrhich will not explode from ordinary shock or an accidental fall.
Potassium perchlorate 6 12
Antimony sulfide 5 9
Sulfur 1 3
These devices are old; they were described by John Bate and by Hanzelet Lorrain. English crackers are represented in the lower right-corner of Figure 23, reproduced from Lorrain's book of 1630. They are used in bombshells and, as Lorrain used them, in rockets, where they jump about in the air producing a series of flashes and explosions. Children shoot them on the ground like firecrackers where their movements suggest the behavior of grasshoppers.
English crackers are commonly loaded with granulated gunpowder, tamped into paper pipes like those from which pin-wheels are made. The loaded pipes are softened by moisture in the same way, passed between rollers to make them flatter, folded in frames, and, for the best results, tied each time they are folded and then tied over the whole bundle. They are generally supplied with black match for lighting. They produce as many explosions as there are ligatures.
Firecrackers have long been used in China for a variety of ceremonial purposes. The houseboat dweller greets the morning by setting off a bunch of firecrackers, for safety's sake in an iron kettle with a cover over it, to keep all devils away from him during the day. For their own use the Chinese insist upon fire crackers made entirely of red paper, which leave nothing but reef fragments, for red is a color particularly offensive to the devils.
Firecrackers for export, however, are commonly made from tubes of cheap, coarse, brown paper enclosed in colored wrappers.
Thirty years ago a considerable variety of Chinese firecrackers was imported into this country. There were "Mandarin crackers,"
made entirely from red paper and tied at the ends with silk thread; cheaper crackers plugged at the ends with clay (and these never exploded as satisfactorily); "lady crackers," less than an inch long, tied, and no thicker than a match stem; and
"cannon crackers," tied with string, 6, 8, and 12 inches long, made of brown paper with brilliant red wrappers. All these were loaded with explosive mixtures of the general nature of black powder, were equipped with fuses of tissue paper twisted around black powder, and were sold, as Chinese firecrackers are now sold, in bunches with their fuses braided together. The eomposi-
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