Born in Limerick, Ireland, Michael Price was himself the son of an Irish knifemaker, and in the 1850s decided to take his chances on the New World. Exact estimates on when he arrived in San Francisco and how he established himself are varied; some have him earning his initial capital as a water pipe foreman, others have him setting up in the corner of the shop of A.J. Taylor, arms dealer and Deringer agent notoriously shot in the face with his own merchandise by a careless client. However he started, by 1860 he was the name among names for knifemakers in California, making everything from utility blades to high-class sidearms for the well-to-do. In advertisements, Price's bowies were claimed to be capable of being stabbed through a stack of three silver dollars and retain their edge. This particular Price specimen is a very compact push dagger, 4 5/8 inches long and 2 5/8 inches wide in overall dimensions, with a 2 1/2 inch double edged spear point blade with a hollow ground profile and "M.PRICE/SAN FRAN." on the obverse ricasso. The shank of the blade is nicely contoured to match the smooth one piece rosewood handle, which is just long enough for a full handed grip and fitted with a visible German silver ferrule for the blade tang. The sheath is of German silver construction, with a flared throat and a brown leather cover. No particular retention or suspension devices are installed, though the fit of the blade to the sheath is tight enough to ensure retention if kept in an appropriately sized pocket or container.
Very good. The blade shows a bright gray patina overall, with some mild spotting and shallow pits. A small absence is visible on the reverse side of the shank, with a small crack extending forwards towards the tip. The grip is also very good, with a few light scuffs and dents, and the holster shows some light wear, stains and verdigris buildup. A rare item from one of the most important figures in the frontier cutlery trade.
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