World's Largest Bowie Knife Exhibit
December 13, 2013
A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America
December 13, 2013 through June 22, 2014
Horace C. Cabe Gallery
“This exhibit is the largest and most important ever done on America’s iconic contribution to the world of blades,” said Historic Arkansas Museum Director Bill Worthen. A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America will trace the history of this country’s most famous knife from just before its birth in a rough melee on a sandbar above Natchez, Mississippi in 1827, to the skilled craftsmen who keep the classic blade alive to this day in the form of hand crafted reproductions and modernized versions.
Visitors to the public exhibit will have the opportunity to see knife designs associated with Alamo martyr James Bowie and his less famous brother Rezin, and to examine bowie knives once owned by such historic figures as Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, General Winfield Scott and John Fox “Bowie Knife” Potter. The role of the bowie knife in the Antebellum era is explored along with the Civil War and the opening of the west, and there’s a special focus on the role bowie knives played in the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Among the 19th century knives featured will be those attributed to Arkansas’s own James Black, known knifemakers to the Bowie brothers Henry Schively and Daniel Searles, master silversmith of Texas and Tennessee Samuel Bell, and the highly skilled makers of the California school including Michael Price and Will & Finck. Fine English Bowies are also well represented with knives by such makers as Samuel Wragg, W. & S. Butcher, J. Walters and Charles Congreve; as are some of the finest known Northern and Southern blades from the Civil War. Visitors can also expect to see a superb group of folding bowie knives, and a variety of other knives that served as backup weapons during the Bowie knife era, such as push daggers and dirk knives.
In total, more than 200 knives are included in the exhibit. A full color catalog documenting this historic exhibit is planned, and will be available from the museum’s gift shop and online store.