View Full Version : One Million Dollars Worth of Antique Bowies

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 12:46 AM
Just returned from the Missouri Valley Arms Collectors show in Kansas City. Unreal! They hosted the Antique Bowie Knife Association's displays and membership meeting. You would not believe the fantastic antique Bowie style knives on display. I held a beautiful newly discovered Samuel Bell Bowie with gold fittings worth in excess of $100,000, as well as other important authentic Bowies with prices of 75K, 55K and 35K, etc. I confess I did not understand what all the fuss was about from reading and seeing pictures of these famous historic knives, and many of their lesser bretheren - UNTIL I HELD THEM IN MY HANDS. Historical? - Yes. Inspirational? - Yes again. Hope you enjoy these pictures - good as I could get through glass cases. The first three constitute a single display which I divided into three images.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 12:49 AM
Want more? Here are another three images - again, from a single large display.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 12:53 AM
Here are some handle close-ups.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 01:00 AM
Here are handle shots of two famous Bowie knives. The top one is a huge Schively knife, and the bottom one is a French Bowie type knife with a seal engraved in the pommel for sealing wax on envelopes and such.

And here are some early American (most of the above are English knives imported and sold in America) Bowie knives.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 01:16 AM
This was a very interesting display of 'garter knives.' Prostitutes often carried these for self-defense and protecting their 'bankroll.' You can see images of three women and their arrest records contained in the display. There's a close-up of one of them below.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 01:22 AM
Here are a couple of small (but very pricey) Schively dirks. Note the fuller on the one resting on top of the glass case. Below is a close-up of the maker's stamp on the guard.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 01:28 AM
Another couple of interesting displays with some additional period pieces.........followed by various handle shots.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 01:48 AM
And finally, here is a picture of Norm Flayderman (L) and David Kleiner (R) deep into it at the show. David Kleiner is (by all reports) an honest and reputable dealer of antique weaponry and related artifacts - great guy, full of knowledge, patient and non-pushy with newbies like me. He's from Bloomingburg, NY.

Norm Flayderman is likely one of the top collectors of antique arms, including Bowie knives, of all time. He's just finished a new Bowie book published by Man At Arms magazine (an NRA affiliate) that goes well beyond The Antique Bowie Knife Book. The book should be widely available this fall, uses a full color large-format approach yielding the best-ever images of many incredible Bowie knives and (this sets it apart from The Antique Bowie Knife Book) detailed related text by Mr. Flayderman. It will sell for just under $80.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 02:04 AM
Post Script:
"Heard at the show" - Guns are out, knives are in. Why? The regulatory climate, not just in the US, but especially in Europe, Canada and basically all over - has made it very difficult for dealers to bring their guns to shows and/or for buyers to transport them home. It's just too much trouble any more. Predictably gun sales are down, down, down. With knives, apparently it's different - things aren't nearly as bad as with guns. Many buyers are turning to knives (antique AND custom) so, predictably, prices are going up! "A rising tide floats all ships." If you're a maker and can figure out how to get in on this trend, you should experience increased demand over the next several years. :)

07-26-2004, 06:01 AM
Talk about inspiring! What a thread!

Thanks, Buddy. This one is top-ten! :D


Jason Cutter
07-26-2004, 07:29 AM
I NOW NEED MEDICATION TO STOP THE DROOLING... Oh Man. That is truly inspiring. And those pictures are exceptional - thank you for sharing, Buddy. I have orders for 8 new Bowies in the coming weeks - this has given my blood a fresh rush. Thanks again. Jason. :101

J.Arthur Loose
07-26-2004, 07:37 AM
Thanks for posting those, Buddy! You rule!

I've been saving pics for a bowie commission and you just outdid (by a long shot) my efforts!

Hmmm... I'd like to see more pic collections posted in here... :)

07-26-2004, 08:09 AM
Thanks Buddy.

Chuck Burrows
07-26-2004, 10:23 AM
Gracias Amigo!

Do you have a full length image of Bowie towards the bottom with the black/studded handle?

PS When you get a chance give mea call - I've got a couple of things I'd like to discuss about our visit.

Buddy Thomason
07-26-2004, 10:55 AM
Do you have a full length image of Bowie towards the bottom with the black/studded handle?

I love that one too. Unfortunately I didn't get a full length shot but I can report that the blade is approximately 7 in. in length, double edge dagger with spear-point tip, no fuller. Owner "thinks"/"feels" it's a Samuel Bell knife - others think not. Owner points to the silver 'straps' separating the wood handle sections as indicative of Bell's work. No scabbard. I forget the asking price but it was many thousands.

Greg obach
07-26-2004, 10:57 AM
Thanks Bros!!!
you just made my day ....with these awesome pic's


Chuck Burrows
07-26-2004, 10:59 AM
Thanks Buddy -
My first thought was "Will & Finck" since they used nail studs like that so frequently on their "gambler" style knives.....either way it's definitely got the ole grey cells working over time.

Mark Williams
07-26-2004, 11:37 AM
You and me both. Ready set Go!!!. I'll have the knife made in two weeks . you start coming up with a sheath plan :).

Chuck Burrows
07-26-2004, 11:50 AM
Well brudda it might be a bit more than two weeks before I'm ready but go for it!
Sterling fittings.....

Don Halter
07-26-2004, 01:47 PM
I love the garter knife collection! The rap sheets with pics just make it that much better. Thanks for posting the pics!

P.S. here's one you might be interested in:

Roger Gregory
07-26-2004, 04:00 PM
Wow! There is some amazing stuff in that display, thanks Buddy.

I keep hoping that I'll come across some 19th Century Sheffield stuff in jumble sales .... so far no luck ;)


07-27-2004, 04:00 PM
I just keep comming back to pour over these..... and look for more pics!

Buddy Thomason
07-28-2004, 10:20 AM
OK Roc, I only have two other pictures from the show and here they are. The first one is of a couple of nice small daggers. Don't know much about the one on the right but the one on the left we brought home with us. Actually it belongs to "my attractive wife" - but I do COVET it. I'm thinking about getting a 'full scale' reproduction of it made some day. The dagger is French, 1840ish, unmarked, and the scabbard consists of some kind of animal horn with silver throat and tip. The handle is fluted ivory. OAL is about 9 1/4 in.

Now this last picture is just for you Roc 'cause I know you'll appreciate it. ;) It's self-explainatory.

Jason Cutter
07-28-2004, 05:44 PM
Hmmm, Buddy, you wouldn't happen to be a professional journalist would you ? 'Cos this thread has been a superb read and its got all the goods. Fantastic. And may I congratulate you on a marvelous get - that dagger is just ... I have no words. :) Jason.

07-29-2004, 08:43 PM
Thanks Buddy, it's truly hard to say more than "WOW".The ol'brain is working OT thinking of new projects.Dave :101

Buddy Thomason
07-30-2004, 07:36 PM
Hey, thanks all for your comments. Glad you enjoyed these imagesl

Hmmm, Buddy, you wouldn't happen to be a professional journalist would you ?
Hi Jason,
No, but thanks for the compliment. Actually, like you I am a physician and my specialty is psychiatry. Writing and photography are just hobbies for me, as is blade collecting. What's nice is that they all fit together into one big 'super-hobby'. By the way, I sure do admire your knives. Keep up the good work!
PS: And your website is awesome! Anybody who has not yet seen it should go there now.

07-30-2004, 10:19 PM
Hey Buddy, you didn't happen to get a pic of that Sam Bell bowie with the gold fittngs did ya? Lotta people would like to get a peak at that bad boy. Thanks, Roc

Buddy Thomason
07-31-2004, 01:37 AM
I wish! The owner is a dealer/collector from England; David Petty. I only got to see it because one of the muckity-mucks in the ABKA (Antique Bowie Knife Association) introduced us to him at which point we bought the little French dagger and an old 'patch knife' from him for a paltry sum.

I explained we were new to the antique Bowie world and "aren't ready to spend any 'big money' yet on authentic Bowies" until we were more educated. Of course that was a lie, because we don't have any 'big money.' :o It just slipped out of my mouth so fast that I couldn't stop it. :rolleyes:

Anyway, at that point "my attractive wife" may have flashed a little cleavage or something and he promptly pulled it out from under the table, unwrapped it and handed it to me. Man, I was freaked! I've never seen anything like it. It looked like it was just made. It glistened and sparkled like you wouldn't believe - like it was made for a king! I think he'd had it curator-cleaned - just a guess as I didn't ask.

After a while I asked if I could photograph it (he'd already let me photograph some of his other stuff). He explained that it would be fine except he promised Mark Zalesky (editor of Knife World and incredible expert on Bowies, especially S. Bell Bowies) he could be the first to photograph it. Pictures will begin to appear in the usual places soon, I'm sure.

One of the things I can't get over about that knife was how the beautiful silver scabbard was perfectly shaped to not only fit the tip and edge of the blade, but also to fit the false edge on the spine. The word that comes to mind is 'nested.' The blade 'nested' in the scabbard.

Roc, I'm not making this up. It was really the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The two other S. Bell Bowies we saw were very handsome as well, but lacked the gold fittings and weren't nearly as 'mint' as this one. One other thing I remember Mr. Petty saying was that he'd been trying to buy that knife from it's owner in France for twenty years, and it finally just happened!

I just need to stop thinking about it or I'll never get to sleep tonight. It feels like falling in love when you're a teenager - kind of physically sick-like and totally obsessed. It sorta messed with my head because a couple of days ago I got out the ABKA directory and looked up David's address, but I had no conscious awareness of any real reason for doing so. And I've been having weird thoughts like, "Where can I get a hundred grand, quick?" I even found myself thinking, "It wouldn't be so bad to sell the house. We could find another place to live." Jeeeshhhhh! Somebody get me a doctor! :confused:

07-31-2004, 06:32 AM
Maybe you can do a quick study and write a paper and identify a here-to-for unclassified mental illness. You are displaying some of the classic symptoms of what is commonly called "Bowie fever". Being a shrink and all, you could like, study yourself Timothy Leary style and win some kind of prize money by giving the fever a proper Latin name. They gotta give at least a hundrend grand for something like that. Don't they?
Now tell me, (as I stroke my long wizard beard and give you the fish eye with one eyebrow cocked)...... and think before you answer. Did it feel anything like when you opened that case and looked down that long row of Scagels? If not, how did it differ? uh huh, uh huh....very interesting.

Jason Cutter
07-31-2004, 03:17 PM
Maybe you can do a quick study and write a paper and identify a here-to-for unclassified mental illness. You are displaying some of the classic symptoms of what is commonly called "Bowie fever". Being a shrink and all, you could like, study yourself Timothy Leary style and win some kind of prize money by giving the fever a proper Latin name. They gotta give at least a hundrend grand for something like that. Don't they?

I'm getting in ahead of Buddy here... I think its a syndrome that has escaped proper classification, but observation of a large cohort of "sufferers" suggests that there is no known treatment to reverse the symptoms and the prognosis is poor. The result is often financial ruin, in those less organised, but resourceful individuals may chose a path of personal sacrifice in order to fund their addiction. Attempts by well-meaning do-gooders to challenge the symptoms almost always results in strengthening of the sufferer's resolve to committ to their chosen direction. An interesting observation is that "sufferers" of the syndrome appear full aware of their symptoms and are convinced of its merits...

Sufferers are prone to peculiar utterances. Examples of these :-

"Check this out !!"
"Samuel Bell"
"Michael Price piece in mint condition"
"HOw many pins in that handle ?..."

Meaningless mutterings to those unfamiliar with working with these unfortunate sufferers. But closer observation suggest a bizarre, entrenched technique of communication between sufferers causing great excitement and sometimes, even uncontrollable drooling. To complicate matters, carriers and sufferers of this condition have been noted to infect others with a similar condition. IN a modern twist, lately, sufferers appear to be able to infect others with a similar condition using the internet and email. It is believed they use well-captured photographs and seductive language. The rate of infection suggests also that there are many more people who are susceptible or vulnerable to so-called "BOwie Fever" and simply require the appropriate prompt to initiate the irreversible process.

This condition and its prevalence warrants further investigation.

Mmmm, sorry about his. I couldn't help myself. :D 8o Jason.

Buddy Thomason
08-02-2004, 02:38 AM
there is no known treatment to reverse the symptoms and the prognosis is poor

When I cried out in despair, "Somebody get me a doctor!", I was grasping for treatment, nay - a cure. Alas, there is no

08-02-2004, 12:12 PM
Wow! Great photos!

This thread is a great resource for anyone looking at historic bowies. I can honestly say I have never seen such a collection of photos on the topic assembled in one place. The text atteched to the photos is also very informative. Way back when, a few of us were talking about a historic inspiration forum, this is I think, what we had in mind. Well done!