In 1847, almost by accident, Tom Smith invented the cracker. It was a simple idea which became an integral part of British celebration and tradition which still continues today, 150 years on. In it's simple form a cracker is a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly coloured twist of paper. \ When the cracker is 'pulled' by two people, each holding one end of the twisted paper, the friction creates a small explosive 'pop' produced by a narrow strip of chemically impregnated paper. The cardboard tube tumbles a bright paper hat, a small gift, a balloon and a motto or joke. \ At the turn of the century, Tom Smith produced crackers not only for the Christmas season but also to celebrate every major occasion from The Paris Exhibition in 1900 to War Heroes in 1918 and The World Tour in 1926 of Prince Edward, The Prince of Wales. Contents were tailored to each box; grotesque or artistic masks, puzzles, conundrums, tiny treasures, jewels, games and mottoes, and most of the beautifully illustrated boxes, crackers and hats, from fezzes to sheiks'' head dresses, were made by hand. The fully illustrated catalogues which date back to 1877 provide an exceptional visual history of British social and political evolvement over an entire century. \