Video: American Knives – The “Eye Knife” and Bill Moran

In the opinion of many, the single most important and influential book on knives in the United States was one of the very first on the subject, AMERICAN KNIVES by Harold L. Peterson (1958). Arriving in the wake of the novel and movie THE IRON MISTRESS and THE ADVENTURES OF JIM BOWIE TV show, Peterson’s book inspired many to collect knives, particularly Bowie knives and U.S. Military knives.

One of the most memorable knives in that book was the bottom knife on the cover — a distinctive and early primitive clip point knife with an eye engraved in the blade. In this video we’ll share with you the actual knife from the cover of the book, as well as a handmade knife inspired by it, made by the pioneering bladesmith William F. Moran, Jr. (Bill Moran) of Maryland. Bringing things full circle, Moran himself was featured in the book as one of the few keeping knifemaking traditions alive at that time. Almost 65 years later, Moran’s legacy includes membership in the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame and the American Bladesmith Society Hall of Fame, the reintroduction of pattern welded damascus steel, and most importantly the American Bladesmith Society he founded, which has been so incredibly successful in preserving and promoting the forged blade. Two influential people in the knife world, two intriguing old knives, one neat old book and a story tying them all together.

For more information on the William F. Moran, Jr. Museum and Foundation, visit