This exceptional American, antique 1860 – 1885, silver handled, gold mounted, heavy bladed Bowie knife is reminiscent of the fighting knives built by San Francisco knife makers for those who could afford them during the California Gold Rush period. This knife was specially designed and built for a wealthy and/or prominent individual who anticipated being in perilous situations. It makes one immediately think of flamboyant characters of the American Frontier and Mississippi riverboat gamblers.
While most deluxe Bowies built with precious metals were intended for dress and presentation purposes, this knife features a compact, heavy, and wide blade by the famous maker ‘Geo. Westenholm, Sheffield’ and was designed for self protection in dangerous situations.
This beautiful knife features a heavy solid silver hilt and crossguard. The pommel is set with a fine garnet stone. The right side of the grip bears three, substantial, applied 14k multicolor gold (green, yellow, and rose gold) chased and engraved owner’s initials formed in a naturalistic ‘tree-branch’ style popular in the Victorian period and most often associated with large multi-color solid gold cased pocket watches, heavy signet rings, and gold headed canes. The left side of the grip bears an applied silver coin, perhaps a good luck token.
The original scabbard is heavily silver plated brass. We believe choice of brass for the scabbard was a matter of practicality given the weapon’s heavy blade and serious purpose. The scabbard (pure sterling) retains its original leather ‘frog’ which has rather narrow slots indicating perhaps a narrow belt or strap was employed for some kind of concealed carrying.
CONDITION: This most impressive knife is in excellent original condition. The blade bears its original factory polish and very sharp edge. The hilt is excellent with with all contours and engraving crisp and a lovely light patina. The scabbard is excellent with some handling marks and a dent at the tip.
This is an especially fine piece for any public or private collection of Western Americana. We have enjoyed ownership of this item for many years wondering who it might have been built for and what stories it might tell.
DIMENSIONS: overall length 10 1/4″, blade 5 3/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 3/16″
Price: $750.00 – SOLD