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IMPRESSIVE IRON MOUNTED STAG HORN HANDLED BOWIE KNIFE – A FULL SIZED WELL EXECUTED KNIFE WITH THE ORIGINAL MATCHING IRON MOUNTED SCABBARD:  A very nice example of the knife maker’s art, this matching Bowie Knife and Scabbard set exhibits both the fine work and extra touches available to a man of means, as well as the durability and heft adventurous men of the 19TH Century relied on to defend their lives at close quarters.     

The knife measures 16 ½” in overall length, and the blade is 11” long and 1 ½” wide at the guard.  The spear point shaped blade features a single stopped fuller only on the right side, a substantial spine which measures 5/16” thick at the guard, and a false edge on the top of the blade which runs 3” back from the tip.  The blade retains an overall bright polish with only minor peppered discoloration and no careless sharpening marks or other faults.  The blade still retains a keen sharp edge with only one small nick just behind the point.  The blade is firmly set in the grip with no play.    

All of the fittings on the knife are made of iron, including the guard, grip ferrule and cap, and the scabbard throat and tip.  The grip is made of natural surface stag horn, providing an ample, secure grip in the user’s hand.  The section of horn was wisely oriented to the blade to take advantage of its natural curve - as the knife hung on the belt, the handle was curved away from the body, presenting a ready grip and free of any clothing that would inhibit drawing the knife.  The stag horn has a nice aged color and the expected worn feel to the surface.  The iron cap is well fitted and firmly in place, decorated with two concentric rings.  The lower grip ferrule is also iron.  The guard measures 3 ¾” long and right at 1” wide at the swell.  The guard is full form with no damage and still retains some of the original blued finish, now plum brown as found on the other features.  The guard has some play and it appears – due to a faint outline on the face of the guard and a space between the guard and the sheath throat when the knife is sheathed – that there was a leather washer once secured between the face of the guard and the blade – something that could easily be restored should the new owner so desire.   

As noted above, the black leather scabbard features an iron throat and tip still firmly attached to the leather.  The metal work is well executed, featuring matching scalloped treatment on the front and rear interior edges of the throat and tip.  The throat incorporates an acorn shaped stud which would have engaged the leather hanger slide on the belt and the tip has a ring treatment at the lower end.  The fittings show some evidence of the original finish, with some bright blue remaining on the top rear of the throat, and the remainder of the surviving finish now having turned an aged plum brown, with no pitting or other damage.  The leather is strong with no weak, flexed, creased or broken points as so many of these old scabbards suffered.  The surface of the leather was coated with an applied tar finish when new and the majority of that finish remains, crinkled with age as is normally encountered, but still firmly attached to the leather with no flaking.  There are a couple of small spots where the tar finish was worn when the knife was carried, but these do not detract from the overall appearance of the knife.   

The style of the knife and the shape of the blade suggest it was made in England, perhaps Sheffield, but there are no markings of any kind on the knife.  

To provide you with some perspective on the size of this knife, I’ve included a photograph of the knife alongside a Model 1851 Colt Navy Revolver (unfortunately, this has to be said – the pistol is not included with the sale of this knife).   

This is a very attractive 19TH Century Bowie Knife which presents well with the original scabbard and the set has survived obvious use and regular carry in remarkably nice condition.  Not a “dandy’s” knife, rather one that suggests it was carried by a man who felt the need of its constant company.  (1002)  $2750

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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