Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 181: Early William & Samuel Butcher, Sheffield Coffin Handle Knife

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Desirable Early William & Samuel Butcher, Sheffield Coffin Handle Fighting Knife with Sheath

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Estimated Price: $2,500 - $4,000

Desirable Early William & Samuel Butcher, Sheffield Coffin Handle Fighting Knife with Sheath

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Item Views: 256
Item Interest: Average
Catalog Page: 189
Class: Other

Beginning in 1830, the brothers William and Samuel Butcher started their cutlery making partnership in Sheffield, England, more commonly known as W&S Butcher. Among Bowie knife collectors, the Butcher firm is known as one of the earliest Sheffield firms to break into the American market, making their knives extremely collectible. This example was likely made in the early 1830s, shortly after the firm's inception. Two nearly identical examples of this knife are pictured and discussed on p. 24-25 (No. 26 and No. 31) of "Classic Bowie Knives" by Robert Abels, and a very similar, albeit more ornate, example is pictured on p. 341 of "The Antique Bowie Knife Book" by Adams, Voyles, and Moss. Both of the examples in the work by Abels have almost identical sheathes to this one and No. 31 has the same blade profile and frog on the scabbard, and may actually be this exact knife, though the photo is inconclusive. It measures 10 5/8 inches overall with a 6 1/2 inch tanto-like blade with a sharpened false edge for over half the length. On the left side of the blade the remnants of the distinctive oval W&S Butcher maker's mark is visible, most of which has been lost due to cleaning/polishing. The guard is a simple ellipse of German silver. It is fitted with smooth antique ivory grip scales with a German silver nameplate on the left and a simple pommel cap of German silver with tangs that extend up to the guard, masking the tang of the blade. It includes a dark leather sheath with German silver fittings, including a fluted tip, and a leather frog.

Rating Definition:

Very good, the blade mostly bright showing extensive polishing/cleaning, likely the result of extensive use and care by a former owner, faint traces of the maker's mark, and retaining an extremely sharp edge. The German silver shows an attractive lightly aged patina overall. The grip is also very good with a few age/stress cracks and otherwise scattered light handling marks. A solid representative example of one of the most desirable, early, Sheffield Bowie knife manufacturers!

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