Knife shows are very interesting, but potentially risky events for me. I’m one of those people who gets excited at fine craftsmanship of any sort. From earthmoving equipment and airplanes to tiny pocket knives, functional tools that exemplify the craftsmanship and skill of their makers fascinate me. And a custom knife show is nothing if not a gathering of the finest craftsmen imaginable.
If you’ve never held a perfectly balanced, handmade knife capable of surgical cutting precision, it’s difficult to imagine paying five figures (before the decimal) for a knife.
If you have, you know that accidentally cutting yourself isn’t the most serious slip you could make. Most of these highly-crafted knives are absolutely up to the rigors of daily use, but they’re more works of art than utility tools.
That realization was brought home to me during a lengthy conversation with Mark Zalesky, editor and publisher of Knife Magazine. While we were talking, he allowed me to see -and handle- several rare knives from his personal collection.
Zalesky literally “wrote the book” on bowie knives. His expertise, along with meticulous research has proven, and disproven, many claims regarding allegedly “authentic” bowies by famous early makers. Today, he’s working on a number of “projects” regarding historic knives, but it’s safe to say that he knows the bowie as well as anyone.
After showing me a couple of originals (they look more like butcher knives than the massive units he described as “more decorative than functional) that came later), he handed me another and asked me to look at the maker. Tiffany & Company, the maker of jewelry and other high-end finery today, made -and sold- many “sporting knives” including bowies in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In fact, one of the most valuable items remaining in the Roosevelt family collection of items belonging to Theodore Roosevelt is a Tiffany bowie.
View Linked Article