'Lighting the blue touch paper' saying

Discussion in 'Fireworks Nostalgia, Collectables And History' started by mrgdavies, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Hi,

    I'm new to the forum and I'm looking for some expert knowledge, please. I'm currently researching a book that's set in 1972 and I need to know if blue touch paper was in use at that time? Would the phrase 'lighting the blue touch paper' have been as well-known then as it is now?

    Any help gratefully received, thank you.
     
  2. Yes, blue touch paper was definitely being used in 1972 and that phrase pre-dates it by many years.
     
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  3. That's brilliant, thank you Peter. I'm not doubting your expertise for a moment, but you don't happen to have a reference for an earlier usage, do you? I suspect my editor might want one...
     
  4. Damp Squib

    Damp Squib Supports UKFR

    Post your query in the nostalgia and collectables section, and someone will tell you when blue touchpaper first came into use.

    I remember it from the late fifties, and it was probably in use decades before then...
     
    mrgdavies likes this.
  5. Thanks for the tip :)
     
  6. Hi,

    I'm new to the forum and I'm looking for some expert knowledge, please. I'm currently researching a book that's set in 1972 and I need to know if blue touch paper was in use at that time? Would the phrase 'lighting the blue touch paper' have been as well-known then as it is now?

    Any help gratefully received, thank you.
     
  7. Cullann

    Cullann Pro Firer/Crew

    I think blue touch paper has been around for quite some time. This book contains instructions for making it, and was published in 1820;

    Endless Amusement - A Collection of nearly 400 Entertaining Experiments

    "To make Touch-Paper.

    DISSOLVE in some spirits of wine or vinegar, a little
    saltpetre ; then take some purple or blue paper, wet it
    with the above liquor, and when dry it will be fit for use."
     
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  8. Thank you so much for the info - really helpful, thank you.
     
  9. I want a shirt made out of blue touch paper.
     
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  10. Arthur

    Arthur Pro Firer/Crew

    "light the blue touch paper and retire immediately" was a statutory phrase on the packaging of fireworks from the 1895 Explosives act to about 1976 when British Standards required more accurate timing and visco was introduced.

    Prior to the 80s the phrase was well known to all.
     
    mrgdavies likes this.
  11. blackbat

    blackbat Pro Firer/Crew Supports UKFR

    Really ? I don't recall Visco being around until at least 10 years later..
     
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  12. A supposed out take from Sgt Pepper was "Pink Litmus paper shirt".

    Sadly it was the invention of an over imaginative music writer......:confused:
     
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  13. Thank you everyone for your contributions - you've answered my question perfectly! So glad I found this site :)
     
  14. Mrgdavies,

    The earliest reference I could find for Blue Touchpaper was in a book published in 1766. Here is the reference:

    Jones, Robert. Artificial Fireworks, Improved to the Modern Practice. 2nd ed. London: J. Millan, 1766, pages 220-221.
    The first edition was in 1765 and could well have contained much the same information, but I have not seen it. Jones does not mention touchpaper as being among the new items added in the 2nd edition. As you can see in the text below, he does not suggest that there was anything particularly new about touchpaper. The previous English book on fireworks was published in 1635 and it does not mention touchpaper. From this we can guess that blue touchpaper was introduced some time after 1635 but before 1766. Certainly well before 1972!

    Best wishes,
    Bazza
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Damp Squib

    Damp Squib Supports UKFR

    I knew the information available to the OP from this erudite corner of the forum would be pure quality...;)

    I'm going to have to track down a copy of this - the 'regulated piece of nine mutations' sounds as if it's a precursor of Maltese ground fireworks. As well as being a likely title for a Terry Riley composition. Great fun.
     
  16. Fantastic - thank you Bazza :)
     
  17. Tinderbox

    Tinderbox Pro Firer/Crew

    There is a topic in the nostalgia bit where myself and a few others researched the history of touch paper to some length and detail.
     
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