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The “Arkansas Toothpick”.

ven before his death at the Alamo, Jim Bowie had a reputation as an adventurer. Bowie grew wealthy on imported slaves and counterfeit Spanish land grants. He fought Indians, searched for Spanish gold and married into Mexican aristocracy.

Jim Bowie
His knife-fighting reputation was established on September 16, 1827, at the Sandbar Duel above Natchez. The real duel ended when Dr. Thomas Maddox and Samuel Levi Wells III exchanged shots without hitting each other. But the duel's observers wanted blood, and began a fight in which a severely wounded Jim Bowie killed Norris Wright with a "big knife." "All the steel in the country was immediately converted into Bowie knives," reported the River Herald of Nachitoches, Louisiana, describing what happened after the Sandbar Duel.

The State of Arkansas came to be associated with the Bowie knife. The reasons are fairly clear. Arkansas rested on the edge of the United States, the edge of "civilization," and was seen that way throughout the antebellum period...the term "Arkansas toothpick" evoked the wild southwest for folks living elsewhere. But another Bowie knife connection to Arkansas is James Black, a blacksmith in Washington, Arkansas, who, according to many sources, made the famous knife for Jim Bowie. An 1841 account in the Arkansas Telegraph called him the inventor of the Bowie knife. In the summer of 1837, the Alabama General Assembly passed legislation declaring any killing with a "Bowie-knife or Arkansas Toothpick" to be murder, and taxing the selling or delivering of such weapons in the state.

he Bowie knife has been called the American National Knife, because of its origin and great popularity in the United States. Any number of blacksmiths, cutlers, silversmiths and surgical instrument makers have reproduced the Bowie Knife over the years. Camillus Cutlery, the oldest pocket knife manufacturer in the country, has produced the finest traditional Bowie Knife since 1876.


Bowie Knife
The Bowie Knife
The Camillus Bowie Knife has an 8 7/8" blade and overall length of 14 7/8".

Features include 420 stainless steel blade, brass guard and pins, leather swing-style sheath, and Western cast-metal belt buckle.



The Bowie Knife.
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