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Old 03-25-2014, 10:28 PM
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Jacknola Jacknola is offline
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 625
Vintage Randall Bowie, Coolie Caps

These pictures are not very good, but? they will serve to illustrate ?Dating a Bowie knife.?

All the RMKs I have are Vietnam era and I pretty much stick to that time period, usually asking myself, "could this have been carried and used?"

For quite a while now I?ve thought about getting a Randall Bowie from the middle of the Viet era, preferably one that had seen some use. I particularly liked the old 12-9 shape and size, more likely to have actually been used, but for some reason I don't much favor stag handles or leather, preferring wood or micata. But for whatever reason, I just couldn?t find the right one for the right price.

Enter this knife?.advertised as being 1970s vintage. "1970s" is pushing the limits of Viet era in my opinion. However, after closely examining this 12-9, I pulled the trigger. I liked the unique wood handle... looks ebony with a cream flaw or something.... but most important, I?m reasonably sure it is more then likely to be of a 1963-64 provenance.

Arriving at that conclusion is an example of the use of some of the recent information about dating using features of the blade stamp and the sheath. Why is it 1963-64? Three reasons?and maybe a fourth.

1. Blade stamp ? a ?type 2? blade stamp that pretty much stopped being used in ?64 or ?65.

2. Sheath stamp ? the Randall made stamp on the back of the sheath has no model or length markings. When Johnson began making sheaths, he initially did not mark them with model or length numbers. He began adding the model and length number in ?63 or perhaps early ?64. Assuming this is the original sheath, it s date fits with the blade stamp.

3. The stone seems to fit the era though it may be a replacement.

4. Back to the sheath. I have noticed that early Johnson sheaths had an interesting feature in the stitching of the ?butterfly? ? some of the early ones had two lines of stitching extending into the heart of the butterfly. This sheath has that feature.

There may be some other good stuff. For instance this knife has no traditional spacers that we often rely on to help date the knife. Instead, this one has the fancy brass collar and matching coolie cap. The fluting on this vintage seems to look substantially different than those on obviously later knives with these features. It seems more hand-made, even crude and worn and has an external brass tang nut. That could be an interesting subject to review.

Also, the silver escutcheon plate ... after about '65, it would more likely have been brass given the hardware on the knife. I admit this is a "negative indicator," but it is a marker.

Anyway, it isn't a big deal... I mean, who cares if a bowie is 1963 or 1970s? Well, it only matters if it matters, and for me, having a knife from Viet-era ?early or mid ?60s? rather than possibly post-Vietnam ?70s,? matters.


Last edited by Jacknola; 07-31-2017 at 03:32 PM. Reason: subject
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