WOSTENHOLM Son Sheffield IXL California Knife limited edition Bowie SN 288/1000. India stag burl handle, gold-etched blade, custom leather sheath; MINT condition – SCARCE THIS NICE.
Nice full-size classic Bowie manufactured from the old-stock materials by Wostenholm & Son in Sheffield, UK, in the 1970th. This limited addition run was limited just 1000 individually numbered Bowies (this one is number 288/1000). Wostenholm was founded in 1745; it was one of the oldest cutlery companies in the UK. Wostenholm & Son became part of Sheffield’s Eggington Group in 1986. An interesting story about how this “California Knife” issue came to life: in the mid-1970th Wostenholm decided to renovate three old workshops by knocking down the dividing walls and combining them into one. During the demolition a small 19th century-era bricked-up stockroom was uncovered. The tiny stock room revealed a treasure trove of old Bowie-style blade blanks, as well as a large quantity of old knife-making materials. Not missing an opportunity for a great marketing move, Wostenholm’s managing director Sidney Fowler charged the company’s Materials Manager Fred James with assembling and finishing these knives to what would have been their original 19th century appearance. Henceforth these “new old stock” Bowies came to be referred to as “Fred James Specials”; the rest is history. The “California Knife” issue was a big hit; most are lost to private collections and rarely come up for sale.
This impressive Bowie is 14-1/8” / 36 cm overall; mirror-polished blade is 9-3/8” / 23.8 cm long; solid full-tang construction. The blade is 9.3 mm (!!) thick at ricasso; company logo and the words CALIFORNIA KNIFE are gold-etched on one side. Classic coffin-shape handle with nicely textured genuine stag handle scales over brass liners; serial-numbered shield inlay is nickel-silver (serial number 288/1000). Thick machine-cut hand guard is 7 mm thick and about 3-1/2” / 9 cm wide; looks like German silver to me. All logos on the blade are sharp and clear; gold etching is excellent. The knife withouth the sheath weights 1 lb 9.6 oz / 0.727 kg. High-quality leather sheath is custom-made to fit this enormous knife; these Bowies were originally sold without a sheath. The leather is soft and supple; all original stitching is intact.
Sheffield-made Bowies, including Wostenholm & Son knives, were hugely popular in the United States in the 19th century. From the Californian Gold Rush era to the Civil War years and beyond, Sheffield-made knives played an enormous part in American history. This limited addition “new old stock” Wostenholm Bowie is as close as it gets to the “real deal” California Gold Rush Knife. The knife has never been used or carried; a couple of opaque spots from the long-term storage is noted for accuracy (could be polished away ). Overall condition is excellent; this limited edition WOSTENHOLM Son Sheffield IXL California Knife will be a welcome addition to any collection.
I recently purchased several vintage knives from a family of a long-time knife collector. I addition to a couple of vintage Puma, Al Mar, Case XX, Browning, and Remington knives, I have several pre-WW2 American blades, as well as WW2 era fighting daggers and WW1 trench knives available for sale – please take a look in our Militaria section. This huge WOSTENHOLM Son Sheffield IXL California Knife has not been cleaned or tampered with in any way, 100% original condition; these are the actual photos.
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