Knife Talk Online Forums

KNIFE TALK => Antique Bowie Knife Discussion => : Mark D Zalesky November 06, 2013, 09:44:24 PM

: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky November 06, 2013, 09:44:24 PM
I don't think that Ed will mind my posting information about this upcoming exhibit on the bowie knife, so here goes. This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, if you love antique bowie knives and the old knife styles you won't want to miss it.

Mark Zalesky
Knife World Editor, Guest Curator of Exhibit, rusty blade collector and friend of Ed

(from the press release -- sorry for the long post)
The Largest and Most Important Bowie Knife Exhibit Ever Assembled to Open
More than 200 knives will be displayed December 13 to June 22

Historic Arkansas Museum is proud to present "A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America" in the Horace C. Cabe Gallery, December 13, 2013, through June 22, 2014. There will be a free opening reception on December 13, 5 ? 8 p.m., in conjunction with downtown Little Rock?s 2nd Friday Art Night and the museum?s eggnog competition, the 9th Ever Nog-off.

?This exhibit is the largest and most important ever done on America?s iconic contribution to the world of blades,? said Historic Arkansas Museum Director Bill Worthen. "A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America" will trace the history of this country?s most famous knife from just before its birth in a rough melee on a sandbar above Natchez, Mississippi in 1827, to the skilled craftsmen who keep the classic blade alive to this day in the form of hand crafted reproductions and modernized versions.

Visitors to the public exhibit will have the opportunity to see knife designs associated with Alamo martyr James Bowie and his less famous brother Rezin, and to examine bowie knives once owned by such historic figures as Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, General Winfield Scott and John Fox ?Bowie Knife? Potter. The role of the bowie knife in the Antebellum era is explored along with the Civil War and the opening of the west, and there?s a special focus on the role bowie knives played in the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Among the 19th century knives featured will be those attributed to Arkansas?s own James Black, known knifemakers to the Bowie brothers Henry Schively and Daniel Searles, master silversmith of Texas and Tennessee Samuel Bell, and the highly skilled makers of the California school including Michael Price and Will & Finck. Fine English Bowies are also well represented with knives by such makers as Samuel Wragg, W. & S. Butcher, J. Walters and Charles Congreve; as are some of the finest known Northern and Southern blades from the Civil War. Visitors can also expect to see a superb group of folding bowie knives, and a variety of other knives that served as backup weapons during the Bowie knife era, such as push daggers and dirk knives.

In total, more than 200 knives are included in the exhibit. A full color catalog documenting this historic exhibit is planned, and will be available from the museum?s gift shop and online store.

Historic Arkansas Museum is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the galleries and parking are free; tours of historic grounds are $2.50 for adults, $1 for children under 18, $1.50 for senior citizens. The Historic Arkansas Museum Store is open 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 - 4 p.m. on Sunday.

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky November 06, 2013, 09:55:35 PM
I can't seem to get a photo uploaded (something about the upload folder being full) but would be glad to post a few teaser photos if I can get that part figured out.

One of the knives in the exhibit is the Henry Huber knife that was in Lucy Leigh Bowie's 1916 article on the bowie knife, which Ed has written about many times. That knife has passed from Berkeley Bowie, to Richard Steuart, to Norton Asner, to Jim Lucie, to Tom Stapleton, and now to me. It's a pretty cool old knife whether or not you accept all the claims that's been made of it. There are also a couple of the fancier English & Hubers bowies in the exhibit, as well as pretty much all of the big makers' names in the way of 19th century bowie knives.


: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Ed Fowler November 07, 2013, 08:41:18 AM
Welcome to KTO Mark and thanks for posting information on your exhibit. In order to post photos on the form you have to go to a hosting site and post from there.

I most sincerely appreciate the many hours you have devoted to working on the development of this exhibit, you have contributed a great service to the knife community by providing an opportunity to view a significant part of our history.

Any members who want take advantage of an opportunity of a life time you will not be disappointed in viewing this exhibit.

Mark when will the catalog be available?

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky November 07, 2013, 09:34:21 AM
Welcome to KTO Mark and thanks for posting information on your exhibit. In order to post photos on the form you have to go to a hosting site and post from there.
Mark when will the catalog be available?

Thanks Ed! I'll see if I can get a few pics posted.

I don't have a delivery date for the catalog but it definitely won't be available in time for the grand opening. I do understand that the museum's gift shop is currently taking names with the idea of contacting folks after the catalogs are in, so that's an option for those who'd like a catalog. I don't know pricing or any of that yet, but it will be a first-rate, glossy, full color catalog, softcover, and priced very reasonably. The print run will be somewhat limited so you won't want to wait too long after publication.

I'm headed back to Little Rock tonight for the second photography session with Buddy Thomason, he's done some fabulous work for us so far.

Mark Z

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky November 07, 2013, 10:01:11 AM
I can't get the images to inset into this post (maybe they're too large), but here are some links to photos of exhibit knives. All photos by Buddy Thomason.

Berkley Bowie's Huber (from Lucy Leigh's article) (

Will & Finck Camp knife and a Rau & Kohnke Bowie (both from San Francisco) (

Here's a group of smaller guardless coffins -- we have a tremendous group of coffin handled knives in the exhibit. As a rule these knives are southern, very early, and very well constructed. (

Mark Z

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Ed Fowler November 08, 2013, 08:33:07 AM
Thanks for posting the photos Mark!

For those who are new to the knife community, Mark is the editor of Knife World, a monthly publication for the benefit of those who want to know more about the history of lady knife. Mark has diligently studied knives and their history most of his life and has proven to be an excellent editor who insures that the information printed in Knife World is accurate and informative.

He has worked long and hard to put this exhibit together and brought some of the finest examples of the history of knives. Many have contributed knives to the exhibit and this is the chance of a lifetime for us to see them all in one plqace. Many thanks to Mark and the individuals who have contributed to make a visit possible.

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: PhilL November 08, 2013, 11:09:02 AM
The photos just weren't showing up for me, so I thought I would try posting them.

( (

( (

( (

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Ed Fowler November 09, 2013, 08:42:00 AM
Thaks for posting therm up PhilL!

These are all classic knives and worthy of study. The Huber is naturally my favorite, I believe the Will and Finck is a copy of a Price which naturally was a copy of other knives. The Hubber however is a classic in its own right, it has many design features that I have not seen on other knives, it is very well though out and had I lived in that time period would have been carrying and using one.

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: John Silveira November 09, 2013, 10:50:29 AM
Awesome collection ...   
i know next to nothing about old knives , these are good lookn

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky November 09, 2013, 05:00:58 PM
Thanks for the kind words from everyone -- it's very rewarding to see the interest from folks as they're learning about this exhibit. And thanks to PhilL for posting/hosting or whatever he did to make the photos work.

I'm typing this at the Little Rock airport (awaiting a delayed flight -- fun!) having just completed our last big day of photography -- I say "we" but Buddy Thomason is the man behind the camera, I'm just there for support. It's taken 5 full days to shoot the knives and there are still a few stragglers to be shot when they arrive. The photos are fantastic, of the quality we've come to expect for first-rate handmade knife photography and better than what we're used to seeing for handmade knives. The posted shots are fairly simple, but there are a number of knives for which multiple exposure images have been created.

I think Ed is likely correct about Price coming before Will & Finck when it comes to the SF style hunting knives, and also that the design originated elsewhere. For one -- and it's harder to see it in his bowie knives -- but Henry Schively's hunting knives bear a strong resemblance to the SF style and they're likely about 20 years older.

Thanks again for the interest and I hope that many of you can make it to the exhibit, or at least lay your hands on the exhibit catalog when it's available.

Mark Z

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: PhilL November 10, 2013, 10:55:56 AM
That Huber is the same Huber in this montage.


: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Ed Fowler November 10, 2013, 12:20:34 PM
Good eye PhilL: Not the leather washer just in front of the guard. This photo was taken before she was handled a lot at an auction and the leather was lost. Thanks to your diligence we now have more of her history to enjoy.

When you see a nice knife with a loose handle, or another ill fitting feature, try and explain to yourself why it is loose and just maybe you will learn something.

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky December 10, 2013, 09:02:39 AM
Just in case anyone here lives within range of Little Rock, here's the schedule for opening weekend. All of these events are free and open to the public.

Friday December 13th

12:30 - 4:00 PM   Bowie Knife Symposium in the Ottenheimer Theater at the Museum. [talks on Samuel Bell, James Black, folding bowie knives, and counterfeits)

5 - 8 PM  Public Opening of the exhibit. Annual Nog-off (eggnog making competition), hors d'oeuvres, and music, all a part of 2nd Friday Art Night at the Museum

Saturday December 14th

10 AM - 12 noon and 1 - 4 PM  Bladesmithing in Blacksmith Shop, demonstrations by ABS MS and ABKA member Lin Rhea

10 AM - 4 PM  Knife Film Festival: videos in Ottenheimer Theater at the museum. Showing:
"The Iron Mistress" (1952, Alan Ladd & Virginia Mayo)
"Dirty Work: Arkansas's Knife Heritage from Bowie to Rambo" (2010, documentary)
"The Adventures of Jim Bowie" TV show starring Scott Forbes, first episode "The Birth of the Blade" (1956)
"The Sandbar Duel" documentary for Natchez TV, narrated by Jack Edmondson

Gallery Talks: Curator's Tours of the Bowie Knife Exhibit by Mark Zalesky and Bill Worthen

Special Performances: Jack Edmondson's presentations as Jim Bowie and/or on the Sandbar Fight

10 AM - 4 PM  Open House in all museum houses

Mark Z

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: John Silveira December 17, 2013, 10:51:09 PM
I just read an article about some knives ( Similar to the ones above ) that have the big button studs in the handles just like above.   The pins/buttons whatever they're correctly called date way back in use is what the article was talking about.  Their comment was " the guys who built these daggers etc way back in the day really knew what they were doing regarding those pins/buttons , as the head on those pins filled out the handle some and made the sharp chines edges of the handle less objectionable in the hand ....

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Ed Fowler December 18, 2013, 09:13:57 AM
I strongly encourage all to visit the display, one such as this is rarely available to us. It obviously has a lot of history and knowledge awaiting our visit. You will not be disappointed! As soon as Marks brochure is available I intent on purchasing one.

: Re: Bowie Knife Exhibit in Arkansas
: Mark D Zalesky December 18, 2013, 09:33:38 AM
Thanks for the support, Ed!

Since I can't seem to post photos here, I'm going to refer interested parties to a couple of active threads elsewhere on the internet -- hope that's OK. These contain a number of photos visitors took at the Grand Opening and show what the exhibit generally looks like. These links go to where the Grand Opening photos begin. ( (

If anyone has questions I'll be glad to try to answer them. The exhibit is now open, and will remain so until June 22, 2014. Contact info, hours etc are in the first post, and if anyone wants to get their name in for the exhibit catalog the gift shop is now taking names.

Mark Z

Sorry, the copyright must be in the template.
Please notify this forum's administrator that this site is missing the copyright message for SMF so they can rectify the situation. Display of copyright is a legal requirement. For more information on this please visit the Simple Machines website.