Knife: Bowie No. 1 Guardless Bowie Type
Attributed to James Black
Guardless coffin-shaped handle, wrapped with silver
LOA: 18 3/8” Coffin-shaped handle, with guard
Marked: "Bowie No.1" on escutcheon plate Purchased with funds from the Gala honoring Peg Newton Smith, Loughborough Trust, Harmon Remmel, Sterling Tucker, John & Barbara Rogers, Carl Miller, Jr., Jim Hammett, Mrs. J. S. Nanson, and David Perdue
This "guardless-coffin" knife is well-known among collectors as one of the most distinctive bowie knives existing. Its characteristics - coffin shape and silver wrap of the handle, escutcheon plates, silver pins, rich burl wood scales, tapered full tang - are very similar to the Carrigan knife. While a number of guardless coffin knives exist, from a curatorial perspective the Carrigan and Bowie No.1 share so much that they are almost certainly from the same shop. What does the "Bowie No. 1" engraved into the escutcheon plate mean? No one can be sure. If the engraving is Black's work, it could mean the beginning of a series or the designation of a model. But since none of the other knives attributable to Black have engraving (except later work clearly by another hand) this was probably applied by a subsequent owner. What would this owner have meant by Bowie No. 1? Maybe the owner wanted it known that this was Bowie's knife.