ALEXANDER SHEFFIELD FOR SELF DEFENCE Civil War era Bowie Knife ID’d to Andrew H. Taylor – Union soldier with 13th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery. Original “NY / Union Shield” sheath included. RARE
Rare antique “FOR SELF DEFENCE / NEW YORK” Bowie knife made in the 1860th in Sheffield, England and sold in the US by C.H. Alexander, a rare type. Sheffield-made knives always played a big part in American history. During the American Civil War a lot of British-made Bowies such as this one were marketed to the Union soldiers with patriotic slogans and battle scenes – a clever marketing strategy. The ploy worked and these handy knives were hugely popular with the Union and Confederal troops alike, as evident from the numerous Civil War era photos of soldiers posing with the Bowies of various shapes and sizes.
This particular “NY / Union Shield” Bowie was undoubtedly catered to the New York state soldiers. A similar Alexander Bowie type is illustrated on page 366 of THE BOWIE KNIFE, UNSHEATHING AN AMERICAN LEGEND book by Norm Flayderman – an expert on the subject of antique American Bowies (see the scan attached). This Bowie has a German silver medallion pinned on one side, engraved Andrew Taylor. According to the National Park Service Archives, Andrew H. Taylor was a Union soldier with the 13th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery. The regiment’s heavy guns participated in some of the most famous defensive battles and sieges of the war.
This very attractive Bowie is about 10-5/8” / 27 cm overall; the blade is about 6-3/16” / 15.6 cm long; solid full-tang construction. Ricasso is stamped ALEXANDER / SHEFFIELD on one side, “NY / Union Shield” on the other; the blade is sharply marked FOR SELF DEFENCE. The edge is very sharp still; the tip is intact. The blade’s spine is excellent with no typical dings or contact marks.
Original stag handle scales are in excellent shape, considering the age; one small repaired spot near the bottom pin is noted for accuracy. A solid German silver cross guard is about 5 mm thick and 2-1/4” / 5.7 cm wide; all handle parts are tight with zero play. Original leather sheath painted red and gold “NY Union Shield” is included. Scoff marks on the leather consistent with age; the throat and triangular tip are made of German silver; the frog stud is missing; all parts are tight. Original issue Bowie sheaths are hard to find since they deteriorated much faster than the knives; a great find!
Over 150 years later, this Alexander Sheffield for Self Defence Civil War era Bowie knife is still in 100% serviceable condition. These Bowies are VERY rare this nice, especially with the original leather sheath included. Most of the surviving “classic” Civil War era Bowies are in private collections and rarely come up for sale; don’t miss your chance to add this gorgeous specimen to your collection!
This Antique ALEXANDER SHEFFIELD FOR SELF DEFENCE Civil War era Bowie Knife has not been cleaned or tampered with in any way. It’s in 100% original “as is” condition; these are the actual photos. We have several vintage European knives available for sale – please check out our Collectable Blades section for similar listings.
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