Made Fine Guns and Experimented with the Percussion Ignition System Born — Birmingham. England.
William Westley Richards was born of a family of silver-smiths and merchants, ancl learned early how to organize production and to merchandise his wares. In 1812, at the age of 24, lie opened his first shop at 82 High St. in the city of Birmingham, a thriving gunsmitning community. At that time such guns as were proved in Birmingham were tested irregularly in private establishments. Richards opposed this prac-ticc ancl quickly bccamc active with other gunsmiths in petitioning Parliament for the establishment of an official proof house at Birmingham. The petitioners were succcssful. An official Birmingham proof house was established in 1S13. ancl extra-legal proving was rigorously suppressed.
Richards' first products were largely high-quality flintlock fowling picccs. Richards was enough of a merchant to realize he needed a London outlet if he were to tap the best market for such guns. Accordingly in 1815 he opened a store at 170 Bond St.. under the supervision of William Bishop, which soon became the fashionable sporting headquarters for the capital.
Richards had much interest and ability in the developmental side of firearms engineering. He was one of the first to obtain a liccnsc to manufacture the Forsvth lock. He
invented and patented a pill lock of his own in 1821. and made several improvements in detonating pills, tubes, and percussion caps. He was one of the first to use tin foil inside the cap to protect the detonating charge, and he even advertised that one of his guns could be fired under water with a specially sealed primer. Among other inventions was a flip-up tangent sight which was adopted bv the British armv.
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