Ellesmere Port, England
|Occupation||firearms designer, artist, writer|
Shaw was born in Ellesmere Port, England in 1776 and was orphaned at the age of 7. To survive he worked for a local farmer as a bird scarer. During the three years he spent doing this work he discovered his artistic talent and began drawing the animals he encountered. After his mother remarried Shaw worked for his stepfather's plumbing and glazing business, and later as a mail carrier.
At the age of 16 he painted his first work: 10 commandments in St Michael's Church. His master, jealous of Shaw's skills, sent him to Manchester to work as a foreman. Shaw was able to find purchasers for his work and emerged from obscurity, traveling to London where his paintings attracted many wealthy clients.
Shaw invented the copper percussion cap in 1814. This copper cup, filled with fulminate of mercury, was a significant improvement over earlier designs like Joseph Manton's tube lock or Alexander Forsyth's scent-bottle lock.
Due to the threat of legal action from Forsyth, Shaw kept his invention a secret until his return to America in 1822 where he patented his design. During the Regency period his percussion cap, along with Forsyth and Manton's inventions, became popular among hunters on both sides of the Atlantic. In the 1830s the British, French and Russian armies began adopting his form of ignition. The Austrians, by contrast, preferred the tube-lock derived from Joseph Manton's design.
Shaw returned to England in 1833 with his new design for cannon locks. His invention was adopted by both the British and the Russians.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joshua Shaw.|
- "Joshua Shaw, Artist And Inventor (Scientific American, 15 Aug 1869)". Researchpress.co.uk. 1984-02-31. Retrieved 2012-05-20.
- Ricketts, H, Firearms, (London, 1962) p.54
- Myatt, F, 19th century firearms (London, 1989)