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XLIV 08-22-2006 12:36 PM

I. Wilson bowie?
Found an I. Wilson knife this weekend. Sycamore St. with peppercorn and diamond. I can find no reference to a bowie, only trade knives. I would like to use this in my cowboy action shooting as a correct period knife. Can anyone tell me about this style and appx date of manufacture? Thanks in advance.


hammerdownnow 08-22-2006 01:03 PM

Sounds interesting. I have only heard of the butcher knives before myself. Interestingly enough, I. Wilson is the only brand name of kitchen cutlery I have ever heard of that has been faked. Good pics of the knife and closeups of the marks are needed for a proper ID. A scanner seems the best way to get good clear images if you don't have camera skills. Looking forward to the pics.

XLIV 08-22-2006 06:16 PM

It's not hard to see I dont know much about knives. The handle (stock?) has obviously been replaced a long time ago. The rivets appear to be copper. I was thinking about taking the brown/red grip off and putting on some old elk antler or somthing. I put a slight edge on it (hope I didnt ruin its value). If you desire additional views to assist in identifying I'd be more than happy to take some more. I really appreciate your comments. Much obliged.


CWKnifeman 08-23-2006 01:11 PM

What you may have is a butcher knife that has been rebuilt., The guardwas probably added when the handle was replaced, and the blade reshaped as having been sharpened down a considerable amount.
From a makers standpoint that looks what probably transpired.
As far as the value after having the handle redone once already and a guard added the value would be almost nill. The reason that I say that the handle was reground is that the spine of the handle has been taken down past the spine of the blade a lot more than what it would have been if it was not modified. What I am sayign is that the handle is below centerof what it would have been new. Also the belly area of the handle is more in line with the current edge of the blade.
In the old SHEFFIELD Butcher knives the handle would have been quite large compaired to a hunting style knife.
This is just my 2 cents worth.

hammerdownnow 08-23-2006 01:25 PM

A few more questions. Does the blade seem at all flexable? Could you post a close-up of the guard where it meets the ricasso? Does the guard appear to be a replacement also? Look for any gaps, file marks, solder or obvious signs that it has been home worked. From the pics it seems you have an I. Wilson butcher knife converted to a bowie style knife. Very close profile to the bowie/hunters of the early 1900's. Because the handle is a replacement already, a nice, pro, elk handle should only enhance its value. I. Wilson handles were considered to be not so good in the first place. Steel quality in the 19th century Wilson's was considered exellent. As for dating the knife Wison was in business 1750-c1970 according to my book.

Just my opinion. A real expert opinion would be better.

XLIV 08-23-2006 03:08 PM

I'll post closeup pics of the whole knife later...thanks all for you comments.


XLIV 08-23-2006 07:55 PM

Hammer, No flex at all in the blade.

Mr. Wilson, Close inspection may indeed reveal the modifications you describe. I still would like to believe it to be an actual bowie style by this manufacturer but I cant argue with the suspicions you've made. The knife looks to have been thru purgatory and back so perhaps all the scratches and marks were a result of honest use. I leave it to your learned eye.

I should stress my interest is not for it's intrinsic value ( I got it for a dollar at a yard sale) but rather to add a little realism to my cowboy action shooting. If it could talk what a tale it could tell.

Could someone actually have been talented enough to fashion this knife from one of these?


Ed Fowler 08-23-2006 08:54 PM

I see it as a nice old knife, possibly altered to someone's dream a long time ago. Wee it me I would simply enjoy her and smile at her unknown history. The marking on the blade may indicate she is a little older than 1900, can't find my book on the date of the marking, but have one like her that was made when Audibon made his expedition for the Smithsonian.

CWKnifeman 08-23-2006 11:32 PM

XLIV, after seeing the close-up photo's that you posted I would have to say that you do have a modified I. Wilson Butcher knife , but non the less you have a very good old knife that you can tell stories around the hunting camp. Put the new handle on it and send a picture when you get it finished.
Thanks for showing and good luck,
Curtis Wilson

hammerdownnow 08-24-2006 07:22 AM

Sorry my friend, according to the Swami, it is definatly a reworked butcher knife. It did come to light that I.Wilson did contract some bowies to be made and marked with there name, but did not mfg. them on site. The tang configuation is the most telling. It is a common shape for kitchen cutlery tangs. Like Ed said, it might just be best to keep it as a period conversion. It is interesting and collectable in that respect. Having a nice cowboy bowie made to match your shooting rig would be nice tho.

For the knife history collectors, here is a catalog scan of the contracted I.Wilson bowies, courtesy of Bernard Levine.

Hey Ed, I see at the top of the catalog page they identify the bowies as having a "Through Tang". Do you think they mean thru tang? The look like what we call a full tang and a through or thru tang would be a rat tail the exits the butt and is peened or fastened with a nut. Am I getting confused here?

Ed Fowler 08-24-2006 09:45 AM

The one I had of that vintage had a full tang. Looks like they are all pinned which would tend to suppory the full tang terminology. Labels change through the years and come to different meanings. Remember they had to translate between two languages, English and American on their export knives of that vintage.

XLIV 08-24-2006 11:52 AM

Could it be assumed by the markings that it was a pre 1900 knife? Or did those markings appear in post 1900 cutlery?

I'll post pics of the finished result .. than you all VERY much for your kindness.


Ed Fowler 08-24-2006 12:52 PM

I have a knife with the exact same stamp as yours, a man estimated that due to the configuration of the stamp it was made pre 1843. Somewhere I have a book that talks about the various stamps used by I Wilson, (actually J Wilson, the J looks like an I so the name became I Wilson).

I have been looking for the book, but can't find it right now, will keep looking. If anyone has other information please chime in!

XLIV 06-22-2014 09:27 PM

Better late than never. It has been used on cowboy action campfires even one or blackpowder rendezvous'. Feels good in the hand and make a venison steak bite size.


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