Rare Antique Bowie Knife By Unwin&rodgers Circa 1840's, California Gold Rush Era For Sale
Original antique Bowie knife of the California Gold Rush era. Made for the American market by Unwin & Rodgers, Sheffield.
The blade has a very desirable stamp on the tang which reads "CAST STEEL / BOWIE KNIFE" in a oval panel and stamped parallel to the blade is "UNWIN & RODGERS / CELEBRATED / MAKE SHEFFIELD"Unusual and not often seen on these old knives is thethermoplastic molded handle. This material was most commonlyused on the thermoplastic daguerreotype, ambrotype, and tintype photograph cases of the 1800's period.
The heavy blade on this knife is just over 6-1/2 inches, one inch wide, and 1/4 inch thick,with an overall length of 11-7/8 inches. Blade is in good condition with edge-wear and early/period grind marksalong the cutting edge. Minor pitting on both sides.
The thermoplastic molded handle has a clam-shell and floral leaf designs. It has a crack that runs half way up on one side of the handle but still solid. The wide, 2-3/4 inch long guard, and tulip-shaped mount is nickel silver which is tarnished quite a bit but could be cleaned if desired. Overall the knife is in very good condition, very solid, with no loose parts. Does not come with a sheath but it's still a very nice, displayable authentic Bowie knife with plenty of character.
The last photo in the gallery is a picture of a very similar knife, same maker and size, but different type handle,with provenance that says it was carried by a 49'er, "Uncle Billy",that went to California in 1849. That knife sold foraround $11,500 at Heritage sales a few years ago. You can still go and find it in their online archives. Just type in aol search "A beautiful Rodgers Bowie Knife....used by Uncle Billy in the Gold Fields".
It's amazing how a small piece of provenance, with reference to CaliforniaGold Rush,like that hand written note on a piece of paper found folded inside the sheath, can make such a big difference in value.
"Bowie knives" were a very common sight in and around all the mining camps and cities in gold rush California. And as one letter from a Army captain at Fort Kearny wrote in April of 1849: "Arms of all types must certainly be scarce in the States after such a drain as the emigrants must have made upon them. Not a man but has a gun and a revolver or two, and one fellow I saw had no less than three Bowie knives stuck in his belt." And, thisknife was certainly made in that era, circa 1840's, and more than likely was carried by one of thoseearly pioneershoping to make his pile at the diggings.
Feast your eyes on the early 1830's Schively Bowie knife in the last two photo'sI will mail it priority, insured to the winner.
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