Bismuth was used for centuries without people knowing what it was, and they confused it with tin or lead. In 1753, Claude François Geoffroy showed that it was neither tin nor lead but an element in its own right.
Pure bismuth isn't very useful even if it is pretty.
It's heavily used in soldering -- that is, putting two pieces together with a molten metal that then cools and binds the two metal objects. Some of its alloys are used in printing type, as some of its special combinations with other metals melt at low temperatures for metals and can easily be re-used. Some of it appears (with other metals)in fire alarms. It also appears in very common medicines, including some intended to settle an upset stomach. Where lead cause trouble because it is poisonous (like sinkers for fishing), people are now often using bismuth instead.