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Author Topic: The REAL Bowie Knife  (Read 47660 times)
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radicat
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« Reply #30 on: June 23, 2008, 10:17:10 PM »

I said in an earlier post that Chet Deubel made a knife similar to the authenticated Civil War bowie that I'd seen on Antiques Roadshow. Here is that knife. Be sure to read the Appraisal Transcript for details.

Confederate Bowie Knife & Scabbard
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200704A38.html



* bowieconfedwa200704A38_00.jpg (17 KB, 435x435 - viewed 1335 times.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 02:08:27 PM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #31 on: June 23, 2008, 10:36:20 PM »

The Texas Artillery Short-Sword was ordered under contract from Ames manufacturing prior to the Battle of the Alamo. They were shipped to Texas, but to me the fact that this sword was found at the site of the Battle of San Jacinta (where Santana's troops got their just reward) is further proof that I was right when I said Sam Houston held the weapons shipments rather than sending them to the Alamo as they were intended to be. Notice from the Appraisal Transcript that the appraiser says there are records to support that this sword is 1 of only 40 like it that were made.

Texas Artillery Short-Sword

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200503A13.html



* swordtexaswa200503A13_00.jpg (16.58 KB, 435x435 - viewed 840 times.)
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« Reply #32 on: June 23, 2008, 10:50:03 PM »

This is an example of a Barnes & Sheffield bowie from 1840, after the Alamo  I believe the clip point
of this blade profile had its origins long before the U.S. existed. Whether Jim Bowie ever saw one like it is not certain. The style certainly was the most popular with the gents at the time this one was made.

English Bowie Knife 1840

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200605A08.html



* bowieenglishwa200605A08_00.jpg (23.25 KB, 435x435 - viewed 1449 times.)
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 10:56:58 PM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #33 on: June 24, 2008, 08:32:54 PM »

It really is a small world. Not just because we communicate around the world today as though we are chatting with someone across town, but because we find people with the same interests far away.

From the Frenchman that specializes in reproductions of Native American artifacts, to the Argentine maker of Japanese swords the old way, to the Australian who is keeping Michael Price and Sheffield designs in the forefront of art, we all share our small knife world.

I'll extend an invitation to this Australian maker to visit our forum. He may not know he has so many brothers and sisters who share his interests.

http://www.moaseknives.com/


* moaseknife7b.jpg (6.24 KB, 250x187 - viewed 671 times.)

* moaseknife5b.jpg (18.99 KB, 250x187 - viewed 672 times.)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 08:38:08 PM by radicat » Logged
LCR2
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« Reply #34 on: July 14, 2008, 06:41:17 PM »

I am no expert on Bowies, but have a few and have handled many. The knife that was used on the Sandbar in the Miss. River was a knife that James Bowie's brother Rezin gave him earlier. No one can say for sure what it actually looked like. In all likelyhood the first professional  knife maker Rezin used was the gunmaker Daniel Searles of Baton Rouge, to have several presentation knives made for gifts. There are four of these knives known. The design and configuration of these knives where influenced by the Spanish dagger.  These types/styles have a straight back blade, and a rudimentary guard. The first (Real Bowie Knife) was probably a hunting knife as Rezin stated "The first Bowie Knife was made by myself in the parish of Avoyelles, in this state (Louisiana), as a hunting knife, for which purpose, exclusively, it was used for many years. The length of the knife was nine and one-quarter inches, its width one and a half inches, single edge, and blade not curved." There is a knife on display at the Alamo Museum known as the Searles/Fowler Bowie. This knife could be a refinement of the sandbar knife. There was no Bowie Knife name until after the fight...then everyone wanted a knife like Bowie's. That is why the blacksmiths, surgical instrument makers, and a few others designed what they thought it looked like. It became more standard by the mid 40's and 50's. Any other comments or views are welcomed. Attached is a photo of the Searles/Fowler Bowie.


* Searles:Fowler.JPG (54.25 KB, 640x173 - viewed 841 times.)
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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #35 on: July 14, 2008, 08:19:18 PM »

LCR2 welcome to knifetalkonline!
I enjoyed your first post! Your observations are well taken. Not much is known about the first Bowie knife. We do know that it she did her job.

The demand for knives like Bowie's was great and I would dearly love to go back in time and visit the knives that were made on the frontier. I believe that most of the well made ones were used until they were no more. At least we can visit some survivors in books.

I liked the photo you attached to your post, thanks for sharing.
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LCR2
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« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2008, 05:22:04 AM »

Good to be here Ed. Regarding the earliest printing of "Bowie Knife". Reported in the June 7, 1836, Niles Register, there is an article about a Spaniard and a Frenchman.."When all parties were ready and stripped for the occasion, with two large Bowie-knives, an instrument about twelve inches in length an inch and a half wide at the hilt, with two edges tapering to a sharp point, and the word "ready" was given both rushed to the contest!" This quote is found in Norm Flayderman book: The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend page 301. This article is among the earliest physical descriptions of the Bowie knife.
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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2008, 05:38:42 AM »

With respect to the Hubers and English & Hubers knives posted. I have examined both of these knives. The Huber is somewhat earlier than the ivory handle English/Huber. I use to own that very knife (E/H)... it's a #2 , they were stamped 1,2 or 3 according to size, the sheath is a period one, but not the original. Both these knives are beautiful in there construction.
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« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2008, 07:36:06 AM »

The Huber is my absolute favorite of all Bowies. You saw the photos of the one that was used hard, she is strong testament to the ability of English as a knife maker.

Last winter I did a lot of reading about the Alamo, in the original work there was no mention of Bowie knives. "Fannin was bringing so many dozen large butcher knives to supply the Alamo". Then in reading the diaries of folks that died at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in 1857 I read "all of the men were well armed with rifles, pistols and Bowie Knives". Kind of a dichotomy of vernacular when you think about it. To me this indicates a regional difference in labels for the same kind of knife.

I held Dr Stapletons's bowie in my hands and could have bought her very reasonably. She is an absolute beauty. WE all owe Dr Stapleton appreciation for the work he did researching her. I wonder how many of them were made with the antler handle? Too bad no production records exist. I hear that there are 14 English and Hubers known to exist today. Most of them leaning toward the art knife.

An interesting aspect of the Huber I wrote about, the scabbard was stitched along the spine. It took me a long time to notice that.



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« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2008, 01:31:44 PM »

The E/H that I owned was from Dr. Stapleton. I bought it from him approx. 12 yrs. ago. At that time, I studied the Huber he owned. I have seen two other similar Hubers. One marked and the other unmarked..with stag hilts. Someone posted about "Bowie #1"...I had the opportunity to study that knife about 10 yrs ago at the Arkansas Mus. I had a similar knife I was comparing it with. Both knives are very similar but different in many ways....The same blacksmith did not make both knives....since both are unmarked...no one can say for sure. It is generally excepted that Black made Bowie #1, but it is circumstantial evidence...but still a possibility...I don't know who made mine. The angle of the blade is caused from the natural bending during forging. If the knife is held in the fighting position, with edge up...it protects the hand somewhat because of a lack of the guard.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 01:43:54 PM by LCR2 » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2008, 02:32:59 PM »

Having trouble downsizing images to post. Hope this works.


* Bowie-comparison.jpg (66.72 KB, 891x587 - viewed 1601 times.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 06:47:13 PM by LCR2 » Logged
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« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2008, 03:33:52 PM »

 This post is of the knife photographed with Bowie #1...It's an early guardless coffin handle bowie....18" Total. Compared to Bowie #1...this knife has a 1/2" shorter handle and a little more taper than the squareness of Bowie #1, no rope filing, different pin construction, no silver layering on the riccasso, but the blade has not been sharpen as much and it comes with the original sheath (leather with lead rivets). The blades are of the same length and the false edge grind is the same as well as the angle of blade to handle. Blacksmith made, just don't know who.


* IMG_3821.JPG (90.69 KB, 640x273 - viewed 752 times.)
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« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2008, 03:40:24 PM »

Here's one more interesting knife. It has the Louisiana Style straight back, with a unsharpened false edge, blade is 12" and has a half moon cut out choil. It has a walnut handle with brass pins. A silver guard with file marks down both sides. Total length is 17". I am still researching this knife, any thoughts welcomed.


* IMG_3826.JPG (96.24 KB, 640x190 - viewed 709 times.)
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caknives
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« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2008, 08:56:03 PM »

I've seen Bowie 1 at the AR. muesum as well, beauty ! I met and talked with Billy Nation, the working smith at the james black shop at the time. He has also handled her and was allowed to trace her. He has made many beautiful reproductions. My uncle traced his traceing and made an  "exact " copy at the ABS school, much to the shagrin of the instructors. If I can get my scanner to work I'll post some pics of his knives. On a more technical note the angle of the handle vs. the blade is not a result of the forging. It is intentional as this type of knife was originally a butchering blade. The angle of the handle allowed for heavy chopping or cleaving on a block or board with out smashing your knuckels, and still was able to be a usefull "knife". As opposed to a cleaver which is single purposed.
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radicat
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« Reply #44 on: July 17, 2008, 06:13:01 AM »

I think you guys are correct in your assessments of why these knives were made with the upward angled handle.

As has been stated, Bowie held his knife as though it were a sword. We should keep in mind that ancient broad-swords were double edged , usually hilt to point. I'm not an expert on the use of knives or swords in a fight, but I'm sure that those who used the broad-sword learned that having two edges sharpened made the weapon more effective, depending on what maneuver was used at any given moment. The less the wrist had to twist the better, both because of the difficulty and the time taken to do it.

The Huber was not a knife that would have been held edge up because of the handle angle dropping downward. (Maybe there is a Huber that I'm not familiar with?) These knives above were possibly an answer to the problem that caknives points out. The men who carried these knives were in need of a knife that would be useful every day for butchering and skinning, and also as a defense weapon. The weight that they carried was enormous. They probably carried a small knife in a pouch or pocket. Any spare large knife would not have been carried on their person.

In a defensive stance, as a swordsman would use, the upturned handle would have required that the fully-sharpened edge be upward. At first thought, that may seem awkward. But, consider first what LCR2 said about the blade offering some protection for the hand. The back of the hand is more important to protect than the fingers. Injuries were expected, so any way to lessen injury and increase chances of continuing the fight would have been considered. Secondly, consider the most likely defensive move that would be taken as an opponent thrusts their weapon toward you. The target of their thrust is most likely going to be the mid-to-lower abdomen. To defend against that move the opponent's weapon has to be struck and turned away, either to the side or downward as you move your body away. To attempt to lift their blade is more difficult since their blade is more likely to be pointing downward slightly. Plus, the glancing direction that their blade will follow is most likely to be toward your hand. A downward swing against the top of a sword would be more likely to drive that sword's point to the ground and make it easier to break (especially with a large knife), and any injury that is sustained would be to the legs.

Since the opponent would most likely have had another weapon in the other hand, with which they would try to use as you lean forward to disarm the first weapon, it is an advantage to have the sharpened edge in the right direction for a back-swing to inflict injury to the opponent, as they will then be upon you. In hand-to-hand combat training, it has long been taught that a crouching stance is best for a forward thrust maneuver. The speed and distance with which you can advance is enhanced considerably. 

Another advantage to those defensive moves with a knife that has its cutting edge up, is that the unsharpened bottom edge is the edge that is contacting the opponent's weapon. Therefore preserving the sharpened top edge for the offensive move immediately following.

.
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