Author Topic: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...  (Read 18752 times)

Offline St. George

  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 4827
  • NCOWS , GAF, B.O.L.D., Order of St. George, SOCOM,
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« on: February 14, 2009, 10:10:58 AM »
St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« on: December 04, 2004, 11:40:19 AM »     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In an earlier Note - I spoke of period pocket knives - those indispensible tools of pretty much every male on the Frontier.

Today - the style of knife is a little more serious and was carried as a sidearm and as a tool and never failed in either application.

It's the legendary and deadly "Bowie Knife"...

I'm not going into its history, since numerous books have all featured the story of it's most famous user and that of its maker.
If you'd like to know all of that - a little personal reading and research is always a good thing.

A Bowie Knife's primary identifying feature is a single-edged blade with the slightly upswept false upper edge and if you think "Ka-Bar" -you've got the style down pat.

It was wildly popular as a fighting knife and utility knife - much more so than its counterpart - the double-edged "Arkansas Toothpick".

It was made by frontier blacksmiths, and by the big cutlery companies of the day - both domestic and foreign.
Some would feature silver and Ivory and etching and some would be plain
Some scabbards - were of metal - and some of the Indian-made ones are truly amazing works of art.

Here is a partial listing of its manufacturers - by no means all-inclusive - plus - as they were made for the Trade - you'll see all manner of supplier's and dealer's markings as well...

Who knows?

That next estate sale may be your lucky one.

I hope so.

The List as follows:

Alexander
R. Alledon - Memphis, Tennessee
Jos. Allen and Sons
Ames Mfg Co. - Connecticut
W.W. Ayer Bros.
Edward Barnes and Sons
Bridgeport Gun and Implement Co.
Samuel Bell - Knoxville, Tennessee
Henry C. Booth and Co.
Broomhead and Thomas
Buck Bros. - Pennsylvania
W. Butcher
W.S. Butcher
R. Bunting and Sons
John Coe
Congreave
Corsan, Denton, Burdekin and Co.
Chevalier - New York
Camillus Cutlery Co. - New York
T. Ellin and Co.
J. English - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fenton and Shore
W. Greaves
Hall and Colley
Hardy, Hall Arms Co.
Hassam - Boston, Massachusetts
S. Hibbert and Son
Willian Jackson and CompanyA. Leon
John Lingard
Manson
Theodore Meyer
W.J. McElroy- Macon, Georgia
I. Nicholson
J. Nicholson and Sons
Nicholson's Xlent Cutlery
M.M. Nicholson
G. Nixon and Sons
A.W. Payne and Co.
Philip and Speye
Rose - New York
J.S. Russell and Co.
C. Roby - West Chelmsford, Massachusetts
James Rodgers and Sons
Joseph Rodgers
Reinhardt - Baltimore, Maryland
M. Price - San Francisco, California
H. Sears and Sons Celebrated Cutlery
Thomas Short
G. W. Taylor
H.H. Taylor and Brother
Unwin and Rodgers
J. Walters and Co.
Werner
James West
James Weston
Will and Finck - San Francisco, California
H. Wilkinson - Connecticut
H.V. Wilkinson
Wilson, Hawkesworth and Ellison
Wilson, Swift
G. Woodhead
Woodhead and Hartley
G.W. Wostenholm and Son I*XL
S.C. Wragg
Wraveley and Weekes - New York

Though these knives have been written about heavily - they are by no means all gathered into collections.

Good Luck.

Scouts Out!



 
 "When you side with a man, you stay with him"
 
"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."

Offline Angel_Eyes

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 715
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2009, 10:30:20 AM »
Hi guy's, great to see a knife forum.
I am familiar with the Bowie in most of its forms, and don't wish to change this post but perhaps someone could post pictures of the Arkansas Toothpick please.
I have read about it in western stories, read about sizes and dimensions but have never seen a genuine example or a photo of one from the era we are talking about.
When did the common westerner leave off using butcher knives and start with the named knives?

Appreciate any answers, Angel Eyes
Trouble is...when I'm paid to do a job, I always carry it through. (Angel Eyes, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)
BWSS # 54, RATS# 445, SCORRS,
Cowboy from Robin Hood's back yard!!

Offline Major 2

  • "Still running against the wind"
  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 15889
  • NCOWS #: 3032
  • GAF #: 785
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 422
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2009, 10:52:24 AM »
Here you go AE
when planets align...do the deal !

Advertising

  • Guest
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #3 on: Today at 06:03:03 AM »

Offline Books OToole

  • NCOWS Member
  • Top Active Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 2678
  • Michael Tatham
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 91
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2009, 12:15:31 PM »
When did the common westerner leave off using butcher knives and start with the named knives?

Appreciate any answers, Angel Eyes

Bascally, with Jim Bowie and the Alamo.

Before that there were Poinards, Main Gauchs [sp?], boot knives, rifleman's knives, butcher knives and daggers.

Books

G.I.L.S.

K.V.C.
N.C.O.W.S. 2279 - Senator
Hiram's Rangers C-3
G.A.F. 415
S.F.T.A.

Offline Angel_Eyes

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 715
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2009, 02:57:17 PM »
Thanks Major 2, great photo, almost as what I imagined, but more wicked looking in the steel.
From some of the descriptions I imagined the toothpick to be broader in the blade at the guard, but I suppose that would depend on the maker.
I take it that the hilt is of leather?
Thanks again for the photo, it will join my archive.

Angel Eyes.
Trouble is...when I'm paid to do a job, I always carry it through. (Angel Eyes, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)
BWSS # 54, RATS# 445, SCORRS,
Cowboy from Robin Hood's back yard!!

Offline Major 2

  • "Still running against the wind"
  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 15889
  • NCOWS #: 3032
  • GAF #: 785
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 422
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2009, 09:33:48 AM »
Yes Sir , Leather
those are Randall made ..their Shop is just down the road
when planets align...do the deal !

Offline St. George

  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 4827
  • NCOWS , GAF, B.O.L.D., Order of St. George, SOCOM,
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2009, 10:58:08 AM »
The butcher knife/trade knife stayed in use throughout the era - they were the most commonly-available knives, with the 'named' knives being supplied to the hardware trade and mail order.

The 'Arkansas Toothpick' - a double-edged affair with a wide ricasso and narrow point - fell out of general use after the Civil War - it's primary value being that of having a fearsome name.

Actually 'using' a large double-edged weapon for anything other than straight thrusts and slashes is difficult, as they don't lend themselves to general camp chores or skinning nearly as well as a Bowie-style does.

The value of a smaller double-edged dirk or concealment dagger is high - but that's a specific use, not a general one.

On the other hand - those Trade knives were used for everything...

Vaya,

Scouts Out!
"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."

Offline The Elderly Kid

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 383
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2009, 07:22:23 PM »
Just for the sake of clarity: in the 19th century, "Arkansas Toothpick" was used for just about any large knife suitable for fighting. The use of the term strictly for the large, double-edged dagger dates from Raymond Thorpe's 1947 book "Bowie Knife." It's still available and is a very enjoyable read, but it is about as reliable as Wikipedia. Likewise, just about any large, single-edged knife was called a Bowie. The most popular design by far was the wide-bladed, clip-pointed knife, but there were many other designs. The sad fact is, nobody knows what James Bowie's knife looked like. After his heroic death at the Alamo, Bowie became a huge celebrity and suddenly all sorts of people "remembered" innumerable stories about Bowie and his exploits with his knife, which they had personally witnessed. Make of it what you will. The only reliably documented instance of Bowie using a knife in battle was the Sandbar Fight on the Vidalia sandbar off Natchez in 1827. Contemporary news reports describe his weapon only as a "large knife" or "large butcher knife." All other knife battles in which he participated are strictly hearsay, "remembered" by anonymous people after his death. Whatever really happened, it set off a craze for the Bowie knife which lasted until the end of the Civil War, when the six-shooter took its place.

Offline ChuckBurrows

  • Frontier Knifemaker & Leathersmith
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1066
    • Wild Rose Trading Company
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2009, 08:58:44 PM »
Quote
Just for the sake of clarity: in the 19th century, "Arkansas Toothpick" was used for just about any large knife suitable for fighting. The use of the term strictly for the large, double-edged dagger dates from Raymond Thorpe's 1947 book "Bowie Knife."
yep......



Norm Flayderman's recently published book "The Bowie Knife Book" available from www.knifeworld.com is the newest and IMO one of the best books on Bowies - it's 520 pages of some of the most beautiful color prints as well as lots of primary documentation for about $80.00 plus S/h - a great price for a great book....

Quote
Likewise, just about any large, single-edged knife was called a Bowie. The most popular design by far was the wide-bladed, clip-pointed knife, but there were many other designs.
Here's one of the earliest known Bowies, made for Jim's brother Rezin by Searles - it is close to the description of the blacksmith made butcher knife that Rezin says he gave to Jim prior to the Sandbar fight.......




Quote
Bascally, with Jim Bowie and the Alamo.
Actually the term Bowie Knife was in use prior to the Alamo, earliest published use is IIRC 1834 and some makers were making knives considered to be Bowies by 1829-30, by which time Jim's rep as a knife wielding ring tailed roarer was well in place - earned or not
aka Nolan Sackett
Frontier Knifemaker & Leathersmith

Offline Angel_Eyes

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 715
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2009, 04:21:47 AM »
Thanks pards,

"ask and thou shalt receive", there is a wealth of knowledge out there, makes you feel blessed to know so many smart people.

AE
Trouble is...when I'm paid to do a job, I always carry it through. (Angel Eyes, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)
BWSS # 54, RATS# 445, SCORRS,
Cowboy from Robin Hood's back yard!!

Offline The Elderly Kid

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 383
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: St. George's Notes XI - The Bowie Knife...
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2009, 11:39:22 PM »
My mistake - thorpe's "Bowie Knife" came out in '49, not '47.  Incidentally, in the Sandbar Fight, Bowie drew his knife only after he was shot in the hip, clubbed with a pistol butt, then run clean through with a swordcane. When Norris Wright, the sword-wielder, tried to withdraw the weapon, the handle broke off in his hand. Bowie grabbed him, drew his knife and disembowelled him, then slashed the arm of another foe who tried to assist Wright. Whatever the knife was like, Jim bowie was one tough SOB.

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk

© 1995 - 2023 CAScity.com