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Bowie, American Classic?

2626 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jar
When the subject of knives comes up, sooner or later the Bowie enters the discussion.

We all know the stories about Jim Bowie, the fight on the sand bar and his famous fighting knife. But actually, we don't have a clue what it really looked like. We have some samples of knives from that period, in fact, one that was owned by his brother. But not one sample of the original Bowie still exists.

The good part is that each knifemaker is free to enterpret the Bowie to meet his own vision. And the result is amazing, big knives, small knives, heavy knives, light knives, just about anything you can imagine. Over the next few weeks I'll explore the Bowie through the eyes of makers from around the world.

The first is a really big knife. It was made in Germany by a maker named Edward Cleff. It has a 8" blade and a stag handle. It's a heavy knife with only a small guard but a big pommel.

Head east to Poland and the Gerlach family see the Bowie diferently. If you can call a knife made to slice and dice an opponent as lovely and delicate, this is it. The Gelach Bowie also has a antler handle and small guard, but no pommel and the blade is much lighter than the one made by Edward Cleff.

So what does Bowie mean to you?
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As said above, there is a great variation in what the real bowie might have looked like. And that's part of the enchantment.

Here is what Robert Washburn from Dublin, GA envisioned. This is a copper guarded primitive Bowie that he forged.

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You need to stop this right now, Jim

I'm sick and damn tired of cleaning drool off my keyboard after viewing your magnificient knife pics! :lol: :lol:
Well, not all Bowies are really big knives. Here is one that Ken Largen made, Damascus blade, Mokume bolster and bone handle. It's next to a common object for size comparison.

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But some of them are really big.

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That's what is so wonderful about the Bowie. Since we really have NO idea of what it looked like, everyone can interpret it as he thinks appropriate.

Another of my favorites was made by the Master Knifemaker Larry Mensch from Pennsylvania. he made me a set with the Bowie and an matching utility.

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