The Big-Bang Cannon is an American toy cannon first manufactured in the early 20th-century. Numerous consumer fireworks injuries convinced a physics professor at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) to patent a "Gas Gun" in 1907, and the manufacturing of Big-Bang Cannons started in 1912, from the Gas Cannon Company.
In 1916, the name was changed to the Toy Cannon Works. In 1924, the company changed names again, to The Conestoga Company, Inc. An assistant professor from the same physics department at Lehigh was the company founder and owner until 1955. The Conestoga Company manufactures nineteen models of Big-Bang Cannon in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Lehigh County.
A bombing plane, tank, boat and pistol were manufactured during the 1920s, firing on the same principle as the cannons. 1930s designs included a Giant Roller Coaster, Ro-To-Top, Spinning Top, Field Glasses and G-Gun.
Calcium carbide (mixture 160, 16x80) mixes with water in the chamber of the cannon, producing acetylene gas. A few seconds after the gas forms, a spark is ignited which results in a loud "bang" or "boom". A key safety feature is that there is no recoil or kick when the cannon is fired. In fact, "glass" cannons were used as a company demo in order to show the chemical reaction taking place as well as the inherent safe quality of the product. "Bangsite" is the name given to the calcium carbide mixture.
Big-Bang Cannons: A Unique American Toy by Raymond V. Brandes, Ray-Vin Publishing Co. ISBN 0-9636127-6-X (Hard Cover)
Blast from the Past: Our History: An American Legend
The Bangster...Volume 1, No. 4, June 1929, published by The Conestoga Corporation
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Toy World Magazine February 1929
- Brandes, Raymond V. (1993). Big-Bang Cannons: A Unique American Toy. Ray-Vin Publishing. p. 15-19.
- 1929 Toy World Ad
- Official website of Conestoga Company Big-Bang Cannons
- Short YouTube video of a Big-Bang Cannon being fired
Patents and trademarks
- "Gas Gun".......patent no. 874,952...patented December 31, 1907
- "Gas Cannon"...patent no. 1,352,715...patented September 14, 1920
- "Toy Firearm"....patent no. 1,624,086...patented April 12, 1927
- "Gas Gun".......patent no. 2,754,607...patented July 17, 1956
- "BIG-BANG"...registered July 31, 1917...reg. no. 117,799
- "BANGSITE"...registered June 10, 1952...reg. no. 559,919
- "CONESTOGA COLLECTORS' SERIES"...registered November 26, 2002...reg. no. 2,653,490