My book Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques is available from Paladin Press. This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Knife Control in Spain, 1908


From the New York Times, January 19, 1908:
SPAIN ISSUES EDICT AGAINST THE NAVAJA
Government Undertakes to Seize All Weapons with Blades Over Six Inches Long.
A HARVEST OF COLD STEEL
Justification of Measure Found in the Enormous Number of Stabbing Affrays All Over the Country.
MADRID, Dec. 30. -- The classic "navaja," without which no romance of Spanish life is conceivable, and which, according to tradition, all the fair sisters of Carmen carry as well as their brethren, is doomed to disappear. The Minister of the Interior, Señor Laclerva, has just issued a decree forbidding the sale or the use of any pointed knife, dagger, or stiletto having a blade longer than six inches.
In consequence table knives, paper cutters, and penknives, none of which is very susceptible to romantic treatment, are all that are spared.
At the express order of the Minister, the police proceeded simultaneously in all the cities of Spain to a confiscation of the prohibited weapons--not only in the streets, but in the shops where they were sold. This resulted in the seizure in a single day of more than four thousand arms in Madrid alone. Three thousand were seized in Barcelona. In fact, the harvest of cold steel throughout the country was something enormous. The operation naturally was attended by vehement protests both on the part of manufacturers and retailers, who thus found their business suppressed without indemnity.
A single merchant in Madrid witnessed the confiscation of his entire stock, worth 40,600 pesetas. Even foreign dealers were subjected to similar loss, at the risk of diplomatic complications.
The region which was hardest hit is in and about Albaceta, where the manufacture of "navajas" hitherto has kept fifty-two large shops busy the year around. As for Toledo, it is chiefly occupied nowadays with the manufacture of military supplies. Its blades, formerly famous, are now manufactured at Albaceta. It is said that great pressure was brought to bear on the Minister to spare this ancient industry. He refused. Barcelona suffers especially because it did a large export business in sword canes. Señor Lacierva has plenty of support for his order. Cutting affrays were becoming increasingly common throughout the peninsula. Every rowdy in town and country carried his knife, and, it would seem from police statistics, was ready to use it. The "navaja" constitutes a particularly dangerous weapon and the wounds inflicted with it are often fatal. Sometimes its blade is a yard long.
Under the arcades of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, which was one of the great centres of the trade before the recent seizure, there used to be many horrible specimens on view, strangely twisted and inscribed with suggestive mottoes. Some of these mottoes were particularly bloodthirsty, such as: "The bite of this viper is death." I thirst, give me [blood] to drink." "For the defense of my beloved."
Despite the evil reputation which these knives have justly earned it is nevertheless true that they are the subject of a humorous tradition which is made much of in Spanish theatres. This has arisen from the habit of Spanish knife-fighters to exercise their verbal skill before getting down to real business. In fact, even after knives are drawn, two rivals will often stand face to face for half an hour calling each other all sorts of names and then be "separated" by friends before any blood is shed.
Some critics of Spain's reform Minister say that the only result of his latest edict will be to replace the "navaja" with the revolver.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Use of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife


Trooper Stan W. Scott, a WW II veteran of Britain's No. 3 Army Commando, demonstrates the use of the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife in this video, filmed at the National Army Museum in London.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swamp Fox Knives

 A faithful reproduction of a typical Sheffield bowie, circa 1840.

I just came across the website for Swamp Fox Knives. Operating out of Crossville, Tennessee, Timothy S. Ridge makes historically accurate examples of knives from the 1750 - 1865 period of American history, encompassing some styles that pre-date the bowie as well as classic examples of the bowie itself. Ridge also makes other historically accurate weapons and accoutrements and his prices are reasonable.

Below is an exact replica he made of the Manson Sheffield dagger John Wilkes Booth carried when he assassinated President Lincoln. Note the engraving on the blade,  just like the original. It's not what we would call a bowie knife today, but it was often referred to as such in the contemporary media.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bowie Knife Butchery in Natchez

Going through my files, I came across the following untitled article from Atkinson's Saturday Evening Post, December 24, 1836. It notes that the article originally appeared in the Natchez Christian Herald of December 3.
On Monday morning there was a disgracefully revolting spectacle of butchery exhibited at the corner of Main and Pearl streets, in this city, the actors in which were three young men from the North. A quarrel had originated the evening before from a dispute on the trifling question whether paper bullets were used in a certain bloodless duel near Washington city. The adverse parties armed on Monday morning and made our usually peaceful streets a scene of gore.

It is well for the young men concerned in the affray, that there will probably be no loss of life, although one was borne apparently lifeless from the pavement, where he had rolled in his blood, and another was carried away so cut up with a Bowie knife, that Main street was sarcastically recommended by a lady as a good place for making hash or mince meat.

A meeting of a number of the most respectable citizens ofNatchez was held immediately after this bloody affray, to arouse and concentrate public opinion against the too common and increasing practice of duelling, street fighting, carrying concealed weapons, and lynching. At this meeting a series of spirited resolutions were adopted, and measures taken to elicit a response throughout the State. Strong words, however are useless unless backed by strong deeds. An example is wanted, and if matters go on in Mississippi as they have for a year or two past there will be no difficulty in finding a subject. Let the first man who arms himself to address a private grievance, and murders his enemy--events of frequent occurrence--be tried and expiate his crime upon the gallows. The higher his standing and the more influential his friends, the better for the purpose. Let this be done in one or two instances, and the daring, open murders for which Mississippi has of late become proverbial will not be repeated. But resolutions are idle breath, if the assassin may walk unmolested about the streets, and it is folly to protest against mob murders, if such acts as the bloody deeds of the Lynchers of Vicksburg may be emulated with impunity.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knives Site

I just came across an interesting website on the Fairbairn Sykes fighting knives.


Not that I need an excuse to links to sites irrelevant to the bowie, but the site does feature a picture of a classic bowie made by Brent Sandow of Auckland, New Zealand.