Springfield, MA: 1925-1930.
Very good. An interesting collection of more than 400 business documents from the New England Fireworks & Display Company (NEF) of Springfield, Massachusetts. The company was owned by Italian-born brothers Sabbato Napolitano (1893-1970) and Pasquale Napolitano (1899-1936), who went by Sabot and Patsy Napolitan for business purposes. Incorporated in 1925, NEF manufactured fireworks and created displays for theatrical performances and civic celebrations throughout New England. They became well known for the quality of their displays, which were often praised in newspaper accounts as the largest and/or best the writer had ever seen. This archive includes copies of the company's by-laws, minutes of their first stockholders' meeting, and permits to deal in explosives; seven completed contracts for the company to put on fireworks displays; requests for quotes, letters of engagement, and other correspondence providing details of displays and offerings); policies and correspondence relating to insurance (a challenge for such a high-risk business); leases for rental trucks; correspondence from suppliers soliciting NEF's business and from NEF to potential clients; and a large number of invoices and receipts showing the chemicals and other raw materials they purchased to manufacture the fireworks. Receipts show purchases for items such as powdered willow charcoal, nitrate stronitia, powdered chlorate of potash, powdered copper sulphate, barium nitrate, strontium oxalate, black needle antimony, saltpetre, and gunpowder, as well as metal shells and tubes, twine, glue, cardboard discs, wooden torch handles, etc. Among their regular suppliers were Raffi & Swanson (industrial chemicals - Boston), John W. Russell & Sons Machinists & Manufacturers (Springfield); Ohio Bronze Powder Company (Cleveland), Massy & Hurlburt (paper, twine - Boston), Milton Bradley (circular binders board - Springfield), Hampden Cornice Works (metal shells and tubes - Springfield), Clement Toy Company (torch handles, wheels - North Weare, NH) and J.E. Sprague (gunpowder, dynamite - Quincy, MA). Of particular interest are a few documents detailing the specific themes and/or appearance of fireworks displays. Two programs prepared by NEF include offerings such as: "Green electrical set piece. This consists of seven wheels and changes color three times," "Niagara Falls. Special 100 feet long," and "The Spirit of '76. This set piece is one of the rarest set pieces ever designed in fireworks. It is 20 feet high and 36 feet long. It has about 1500 lances and 1.5 miles of fuse. It is one of the most beautiful designs attempted by any fireworks company." There is also a handwritten letter to NEF from one Captain Newton Hardin, who produced spectacles for Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch Real Wild West Shows. He writes that he has "just complete a minature model set of scenery for a beautiful fireworks spectacle which embraces many new ideas and features....It will cost around $9,000 to produce using a cast of amateurs of about 150 people, small stage and fireworks crew....Should be sold for $1,600 per night using about $375 worth of fireworks (wholesale price). Cast of equipment includes lights, costumes, and props, complete. The set is to be 350 ft long and 30 ft high." It's unclear just what Hardin was expecting from NEF, but he says he "would be pleased to entertain any proposition you have to offer." Condition: At least 95% of the items in this archive are in very good condition. A small number have pieces torn away, resulting in loss of text.