Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 67: Excellent Will & Finck Push Dagger w/Silver Hold-Out Sheath

Auction Date: April 13, 2018

Iconic Will & Finck Push Dagger with Silver Hold-Out Sheath, as Featured on the Cover of "Knifemakers of Old San Francisco"

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $15,000 - $25,000

Iconic Will & Finck Push Dagger with Silver Hold-Out Sheath, as Featured on the Cover of "Knifemakers of Old San Francisco"

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 4479
Item Interest: Active
Catalog Page: 45
Class: Other

Operating out of San Francisco, Will & Finck manufactured a wide variety of knives and gambling equipment, and are associated with the California Gold Rush. The push dagger, also known as the gimlet knife, is also associated with the sporting types of the American frontier, being a compact weapon that could be deployed in a close-in fight with speed and power. Measuring 6 inches in overall length and 3 3/4 in overall width, the blade is double edged and spear pointed with a diamond cross section and 3 1/2 inch long live edges leading down to a lozenge profile ricasso marked "WILL &/FINCK" on both sides. One side of the ricasso has a neatly drilled hole designed to interface with a retention device in the sheath. The handle is smooth one-piece bone construction, sized for a full-hand grip with the shank of the blade emerging from between the middle and ring fingers. A matching sized silver sheath is included, with a suspension hook mounted on the ball tip and a silver finished spring loaded brass retention device marked "WILL & FINCK PATENTED", which has a metal post that passes through a hole in the sheath body and engages the hole in the knife ricasso. Releasing the blade from the sheath is a simple matter of depressing an arm on the end of the device, which can be done with the middle finger of the strong hand while reaching for the handle. In contrast to the typical leather belt sheath of the era, this sheath gave many options for concealment, such as being tucked inside a vest or up a coat sleeve, permitting the appearance of being unarmed while also allowing an element of surprise in a fight. This specific knife and sheath combo can be seen on the cover of "Knifemakers of Old San Francisco" by Bernard Levine, in addition to being pictured on page 71 of the same book.

Rating Definition:

Excellent, with some light scuffing and virtually no wear on the blade, as well as a fine yellow/cream tone to the exceptional, totally original grip. Blade scuffing is concentrated in the finger region, with a few rubs from the retention device visible on either side. The grip also shows some light dings. The sheath tip, with the sheath as a whole showing little wear appropriate to age and use, and the retention device is in fine mechanical order. This is a near perfect representation of the "gambler's knife" of the American West as well as of the work of the California cutlers as a whole. If one desires to own the finest Push Dagger, here it is!

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