Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1080: Very Nice W. & S. Butcher Sheffield Bowie Knife with Sheath

Auction Date: April 14, 2018

Exceptional/Highly Desirable W. & S. Butcher Sheffield Bowie Knife with Sheath

Estimated Price: $25,000 - $37,500

Exceptional/Highly Desirable W. & S. Butcher Sheffield Bowie Knife with Sheath

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 5239
Item Interest: Active
Catalog Page: 49
Class: Other

Established in the early 1800s, the firm of William and Samuel Butcher is reputed as one of the first Sheffield cutlery outfits to recognize the potential of the American market. This market, famously hungry for everything from rough tools of labor to the fanciest of sidearms, helped make the firm among the largest in their home city, by 1845 William had been elected Master Cutler of the local guild and by 1871 the firm had between 800 and 1,200 employees. This particular Butcher knife measures 13 1/4 inches overall, with an 8 3/4 inch single edged clip point blade, which is marked "(illegible)/BY W. & S. BUTCHER/SHEFFIELD" on the left side. The hilt is of German silver construction with an oval guard, a pair of half-length smooth mother of pearl grip panels overlaid with a short German silver pommel extension, and half of each side decorated with a cutlery-style repoussed motif of a crocodile. Crocodile designs are often associated with Sheffield blades destined for America, particularly the South and the Mississippi basin. The animal had a well earned reputation for tenacity and dangerousness, and claiming to be "half-alligator, half-(insert scary thing here)" was a common brag/threat in some American circles. The sheath is of maroon leather construction with impressed gilt border decoration, and fitted with a German silver throat and tip. The throat bears a red paint inventory mark of "33". A Butcher-made bowie of near identical configuration (and also hailing from the Berryman collection) can be seen on page 341 of "The Antique Bowie Knife Book "; the biggest difference between the two being the color of the sheath leather.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The blade is bright, with a few light scratches and a miniscule turn of the tip. The hilt is also very fine, with some light spotting and a few tiny dings. Some age cracks are visible along the edges of the otherwise excellent original pearl panels, which otherwise show bright color. The sheath is fine, with some splitting and scuffing of the edges.

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