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#159162 - 08/27/09 03:23 PM Henry Egg information
Lorne Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 243
Loc: VT
Any one have any information on Henry Egg (19th-Century English gun maker). I believe that his father was John Egg (likely inventor of the percussion cap) and that his great uncle was Durs Egg. I'd be grateful for any info on the dates of his company etc.

#159175 - 08/27/09 06:44 PM Re: Henry Egg information [Re: Lorne]
George L. Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 1417
Loc: South Carolina
Henry Egg (1815-1869) son of Joseph Egg, gunmakers (successor to Joseph Manton & Son), 6 Holles Street,Cavendish Square, 1839-1842; 1 Picadilly, 1842-1850; Henry Egg, s.a. 1851-1869; Henry William Egg, s.a. 1869-1880. From BRITISH GUNMAKERS by Nigel Brown.

Best Regards, George
To see my guns go to www.mylandco.com Select "SPORTING GUNS " My E-Mail palmettotreasure@aol.com

#159176 - 08/27/09 07:00 PM Re: Henry Egg information [Re: George L.]
Lorne Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 243
Loc: VT
Thank you! That is very helpful information. (And it dates a Joseph Manton at 6 Hollis St as well.) Perhaps I will have to consider acquiring a copy of Nigel Brown. At some point I will have to figure out how to post some pictures.

#159192 - 08/27/09 10:02 PM Re: Henry Egg information [Re: George L.]
Lorne Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 243
Loc: VT
What does s.a. stand for?

#159197 - 08/27/09 10:35 PM Re: Henry Egg information [Re: Lorne]
PeteM Offline

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 4598
Loc: IL
The Egg family is most simply viewed with Durs on the one hand, with his sons George Frederick, John and Henry Durs; and on the other hand, Joseph with his sons Charles, Henry and Augustus Leopold.

Durs Egg was born in 1748 in Switzerland. He moved to Paris but stayed there for only a short time, in 1772 he was recorded working for John Twigg in London.
In 1778 he opened his own business as a sword cutler and gun maker at 24 Princes Street, Leicester Fields. From 1784 to 1820 he was a Contractor to Ordnance.

In 1786 he moved to 1 Coventry Street, Haymarket; in 1791 he was granted British citizenship.

From 1794 to 1811 he was recorded as having a factory at 35 Mansell Street, but from 1797 to 1802 he appears to have had a workshop at 9 Kensington Gore, his residence. In 1802 his residence moved to Knightsbridge Green.

In 1803 he patented a breechloading gun, waterproof locks, a recoiling barrel, a shoulder butt for a pistol, tube sights and other items (No.2692).

In 1804 he moved to 132 Strand.

Possibly as early as 1811 he was appointed gunmaker to the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), the Duke of York etc.

In 1812 he patented an improved flintlock mechanism, 3 and 4 barrel guns, a walking stick gun and safety powder flask and other items (No.3599).

In 1815 Durs Egg and S J Pauly patented a dolphin shaped balloon (No.3909) (in 1808 S J Pauly, a Swiss gunmaker working in Paris, had invented a breech-loader which used a cartridge containing a fulminate which was ignited by a firing pin: nobody realised the importance of Pauly's invention at the time, so he channelled his creativity elsewhere; the balloon was not a commercial success).

At some time the firm became members of The Society of Master Gunmakers of Westminster (along with the Mantons, Joseph Egg, Grierson, Samuel Nock and Henry Wilkinson).

In 1816 the firm moved to 1 Pall Mall.

Durs Egg became blind in 1822, and died in 1831 at his residence in Knightsbridge Green.

From 1832 the business continued trading as Durs Egg under the control of his executors, George Frederick Egg, his son born in 1787, and Frederick W Devey, his son-in-law (some reports state Frederick Nicholls Devey but this has not been confirmed). John Egg (recorded variously as born 1796 or 1800) managed the firm which remained at 1 Pall Mall and promised "to maintain the long-standing reputation of the name" (Bell's Life in London). John Egg had been apprenticed to George Frederick in the Founders Company in 1813, and had had his own business in 1826 at 26 Princes Street, Leicester Fields.

In 1838 the firm moved to 20 Haymarket where they traded under the name of John Egg, but John Egg remained living in Pall Mall with his wife, Clara A (nee Daras married 1831) their daughter Julianna (b.1837), and, later, their son George D G Egg (b.1841).

In 1839 the firm moved to 10 Opera Arcade but in the same year it moved to 4 Pall Mall to trade under the name of Durs Egg. In 1855 this address changed to 4 Colonnade, Pall Mall.

In the 1861 census John Egg was recorded living at 7 Addison Road, Kensington, with his wife, Clara, their daughters, Clara and Julianna, and their sons, George D G (a gunmaker aged 19 but not recorded thereafter) and John (John (II) then aged 12).

The firm was last recorded as Durs Egg in 1865, but it appears to have continued to trade. The premises at 4 Pall Mall appear to have been large enough to house two separate gunmakers, because Calisher & Terry, trading as the Breech Loading Armoury Company, were recorded there in 1866 and 1867, and from 1874 to 1876 William Thorn's address was 4 Pall Mall.

John Egg (John (I)) died in 1873 at his home at 39 Great Western Terrace, Paddington; probate was granted in 1874, and it appears that the firm was then run by John (II) and Thomas William Watson. However, John (II) died in 1877, and in 1878 Thomas Watson was recorded at 4 Pall Mall trading as a gun maker and optician; he claimed establishment in 1875.

In the Royal Collection at Windsor are a breechloading carbine with spear bayonet, a Ferguson rifle with silver mountings, and some sporting guns.

Durs Egg was the son of Leonz Egg, gunmaker, Oberbuchstein, Switzerland. He was baptised Urs Christian Egg. [He had a brother, Johann Jacob who was baptised Jean Joseph, who had a son Joseph - see Joseph Egg.

Durs, or Urs, moved to Paris, but soon emigrated to England where in 1772 he started work with John Twigg.

In 1787 his son George Frederick was born. In 1791 he was granted denization (citizenship) in England.

In 1793 his other son, Henry was born, and at a later stage John was born.

George Frederick Egg was Free of the Founders Company by redemption and set-up in business at 12 Little Eastcheap, it is not known for how long he traded here. He took in his brothers, Henry Durs and John as apprentices in 1813; Henry Durs Egg was Free of the Founders Company and took Livery in 1822, he had probably been working in the business as a partner, he died in 1868. John Egg never sought his Freedom in the Founders Company and did not take Livery. From 1832 to 1837 he managed the business of Durs Egg trading as "executors of Durs Egg" from the 1 Pall Mall address. He seems to have taken over the business in 1838 and moved it as stated above.

Joseph Egg probably came to England soon after 1790, and he probably worked for Durs Egg.

He started trading as a gunmaker in Great Windmill Street, Soho in 1800 when he patented a method of bending steel using heat (No.2440).

In 1801 he went into partnership with Walker as Egg & Walker at 59 Frith Street, Soho where they traded as "Gunmakers and Patent Spring Truss Makers", but the partnership was recorded only in that year. In the same year he was recorded as being in partnership with Henry Tatham as Tatham & Egg at 37 Charing Cross.

In 1813 Joseph Egg patented an upside-down flintlock (No.3676).

In 1814 the partnership with Tatham broke up and Joseph went into business under his own name at Corner of Piccadilly and Haymarket, this address appears to have been numbered 1 Piccadilly in about 1825.

In 1816 a waterproof lock which Joseph had developed was rejected by the Board of Ordnance.

Joseph Egg was particularly famous for making duelling pistols but he was also famous because he claimed to have invented the copper percussion cap. The generally accepted date for its introduction is 1818. Nobody can state with certainty who invented the percussion cap, following Forsyth's development of primers many people developed similar ideas. Joshua Shaw, of London and Philadelphia, USA, claimed to have invented it in 1814 but kept the idea secret until he had emigrated to Philadelphia where, in 1817 he tried to patent it but, as an alien, was not allowed to file a patent until he had been resident in the country for two years. The invention was also claimed by Joseph Manton (and Colonel Peter Hawker) and John Day of Giltspur Street, London and Barnstaple in Devon. Joseph Manton's claim was backed by Col Peter Hawker who said that he had proposed the idea to Manton. Manton and Egg's patents differ substantially from Shaw's patent (Joseph Egg submitted a copper cap percussion musket to Ordnance in 1820 but it was rejected).

At some time, the firm became members of The Society of Master Gunmakers of Westminster (along with the Mantons, Durs Egg, Charles Grierson, Samuel Nock and Henry Wilkinson).

In 1822 Joseph Egg patented his self-primer, (a percussion priming magazine patent No.4727), and in 1827 in France he patented a pellet lock.

From 1823 to 1835 Joseph Egg was a Contractor to the Board of Ordnance (setting-up).

In 1832 a further shop or workshop was opened at 28 Titchborne Street. This shop closed in 1834 (no guns or trade labels bearing this address have been seen).

On 6 May 1835 Joseph Egg patented an improved percussion priming magazine (No.6829). This had a pierced bar that collected a priming pellet from a tubular magazine when the hammer was cocked. The bar placed the pellet in the breech and then retracted as the hammer fell.

Reportedly, in 1835 the firm traded under the names Joseph Egg & Son and / or Joseph Egg & Co. The name Joseph Egg & Son, Henry being the son, has not been confirmed, but many trade labels bearing the name Joseph Egg & Sons have been seen. No known reference sources refer to Joseph Egg & Sons, so it may be that an original error has been repeated by later sources. The evidence for the name Joseph Egg & Co appears to come from an 1839 advertisment for "The Patent Self-adjusting German Truss" made and sold by J Egg & Co.

The name Joseph Egg & Sons may have been used after Joseph's death in 1837 (and perhaps immediattely prior to it) when Charles and Henry took over the business. It may be of interest to note that Charles was the elder of the two brothers, probably born in 1811 or 1812, Henry was born in 1815 or 1816. Both Charles and Henry Egg started and finished their apprenticeships with the Reynolds firm of gunmakers at the same time. Charles would have been aged 21 in 1832 or 1833, Henry Egg would have been 21 only in 1836 or 1837.

In 1839 Charles and Henry took over the bankrupt business of Joseph Manton at 6 Holles Street, Cavendish Square. In 1842 these premises were closed but the business at 1 Piccadilly continued under the name of Charles & Henry Egg.

In 1850 Charles retired, he died in 1867; Henry Egg continued the business and in about 1860-1865 developed an under lever pin-fire gun (referred to as Henry Egg's improvement).

In 1869 Henry died and was succeeded by his son, Henry William Egg (b.1845 in St James). Henry William changed the name of the firm to his own and traded until 1880. He was recorded in the 1871 census as a gunsmith employing 7 men, 2 boys and 1 woman. He was living at 1 Piccadilly with his wife, Mary A (b.1848 in Hanover Square, London; married possibly in 1866).

Joseph Egg was the nephew of Durs Egg. He was born in 1775 and baptised Jean Joseph. He was the son of Johann Jakob Egg a gunmaker of Huningue, Alsace, brother of Durs Egg. In 1808 he was a member of the St James Loyal Volunteers.
Charles Egg was apprenticed in 1826 to Thomas Reynolds, he was made Free of the Gunmakers Company and took Livery in 1840, was Elected Assistant in 1844 and Master in 1848, he died in 1867.

Henry Egg was born in 1816 and apprenticed in 1826 to James Reynolds, Thomas's son. He exhibited a self-priming percussion gun at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

Henry William Egg was apprenticed to Charles Egg in the Gunmakers Company in 1861.

Joseph Egg had a third son, Augustus Leopold, who was a famous painter and administered Joseph's estate on his death.


#159198 - 08/27/09 11:03 PM Re: Henry Egg information [Re: PeteM]
Lorne Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 243
Loc: VT
Thank you Pete. That is certainly a wealth of information, and typing. Does it have a source?

When dealing with the Eggs and the Mantons, it is clearly important to keeps the Josephs and the Johns separate.


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