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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/10/2002 5:43:50 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/10/2002 5:45:11 AM EDT by M700-308]
This is a new post to keep the forged blade post about the forged blade. Let's use this thread for discussion about one of the most famous knives ever.

The meteorite story gives the "Iron Mistress" a nice mystical or supernatural quality to it but unfortunately the story is all bunk. Meteorite iron is too loaded with impurities that it makes forging a blade almost pointless. The knife would be too soft and not really be able to hold an edge. This (meteorite knife making) has been attempted over and over again with the same result.

Keep in mind The reason the Bowie knife is legendary, Is due to the skill of Jim Bowie himself. Other wise it would still be called a (James) Black knife, not a Bowie.

Link Posted: 9/10/2002 9:37:02 AM EDT
Ah, the mystical Bowie knife. Legends are fun, even if they aren't always true. For those who don't know, James Black was an Arkansas blacksmith who made one of Jim Bowie's knives, The Iron Mistress.

Here's where it gets fun. I've read conflicting stories about the knife Jim Bowie had with him when he was killed at the Alamo. One account says the knife was never recovered, and yet another says that Jim Bowie had a knife made for him by George Wostenholm of Sheffield, England.

Either one is certainly plausible. Bowie's knife could have been taken as a souvenir by one of Santa Ana's men..., and alot of knives in the old west were made in Sheffield, England. A buddy of mine has an original Sheffield Bowie, which he has offered to sell me in the past. They're quite valued among old west re-enactors and SASS cowboy shooters.
Link Posted: 9/10/2002 9:17:25 PM EDT
I know that most meteorites are iron with a few percent nickel. The meteorite in the book was special.

Ok, I just want to believe. Great story though.

A thought about all those copies. I have heard there is debate about the authentic design of the Bowie. How much similarity is there among the reputed copies?
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 6:40:54 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/11/2002 6:52:04 AM EDT by sig_230]

One of the really great things about the Bowie Knife is the mystery of what it really did look like. I love the Bowie and have bought several of them over the years. Here are a few photos of just how different knifemakers think the Bowie knife really looked.

David Brodziak from Australia made this first one for me. It looks the most like the popular image of a Bowie.

This is a Bowie as Ron Leuschen from Little Hen Knives envisions it.

James Luman from Montana made this Bowie for me. It's smaller than the original and one that you could actually carry these days without John Ashcroft coming unglued.

Larry Mensch from Pennsylvania made this one for me. He also made a smaller companion camp/utility knife to go with it. Look at the mirror polish on this knife.

Ken Richardson made this monster. It's one that I have never been able to handle without cutting myself at least once. Ken is interesting because all of his knives are actually a family project. Every member of the family works on the knives, some doing blades, Ken doing mostly the carving and painting, others making the custom sheaths that accompany each knife.

This one is from Terry Urdal. Terry makes knives down in South Texas, mostly for hunters and guides.

Finally, Bob Washburn from Dublin, GA made this one. It is a hand forged primitive and is probably the closest to the original Bowie. It's another of those knives that as soon as you pick it up you just know that it's right. I love using this one and it has been my companion through many a woods.

I hope you enjoy these.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 9:29:06 AM EDT
Back to the meteorite for some clarification.
Some knives have been made from meteorites, that's where the Bowie myth came from. 1922 king tuts tomb was found and one of his knives contained meteorite. Than when the book "Iron Mistress, by Paul Wellman" came out it included the story of a Blade Forged in the stars.

The contents of a meteorite do vary but the iron ore contains high levels nickel, and iridium. While this material would make a great inlay in a handle it isn't really a good blade steel. So yes you can make a knife handle and blade from meteorite but there is no advantage to this what so ever. Bill Moran back in 1989 tried to add W-2 tool steel to a meteorite to forge a blade that would hold a better edge. He found it pointless trying to forge out all the unwanted alloys.

As for what it looks like, there are as many opinions on this as there are stars in the sky.
The Smithsonian model 12 bowie by Randall is regarded by the Smithsonian as being probably the closest to what the original looked like. In my honest opinion after seeing other knives made by James Black I picture the knife looking more like a Bill Blackwell model. Than again both could be wrong.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 10:10:56 AM EDT
You're probably right about the Smithsonian Randall Model 12, at least as far as the shape of the blade. That's the most traditional Bowie knife look I think. I have read that the original Bowie knife had a coffin-shaped handle though, which added to its uniqueness.
Link Posted: 9/11/2002 9:46:47 PM EDT
Those are beautiful. I'd be afraid to own them for fear of spoiling their beauty. The Urdal reminds me of a little KBar I have that is about 6 or 7 OAL.

The brodziac inlay handle is to die for.
What can I say? Those are heirloloms.
Link Posted: 9/12/2002 4:59:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Axel:
Those are beautiful. I'd be afraid to own them for fear of spoiling their beauty. The Urdal reminds me of a little KBar I have that is about 6 or 7 OAL.

The brodziac inlay handle is to die for.
What can I say? Those are heirloloms.

Actually, these makers would be down right upset if they thought you didn't use their knives. These were all made to be used and they have all seen their share of time in the woods or on my hip.

Here's a closeup of the handle on the Brodziak Bowie. The fileworked spacer is really a work of art.

Link Posted: 9/12/2002 9:23:17 PM EDT
Yes it is. Thanks for the picture, its even better up close.

Come to think of it, this is probably one of the last ways to own guild quality craftmanship.

The only thing I can think of that would be better are some blade nicks on the guard and the initials "JB" carved in the handle.
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