An updated version of this very useful book on antique bowie knives, with much new material.
Reviewed by Knife World staff
If there's any knife subject that is crying out for affordable reference books, it surely is that of the bowie knife. While material is available on James Bowie and his knife's legend and lore, there is precious little in print that addresses the great American knife in its classic forms. Even if one manages to track down the older, out of print books, prices usually start at over $100 a copy. It just doesn't seem right that there's not an affordable, easy way to learn more about America's knife.
Back in 1992, a book called Bowie Knives of the Ben Palmer Collection was published. It was not the end-all book on bowies, nor did it claim to be; but it was a good hardcover book with photos of some superb bowie knives, and priced affordably. To no one's surprise, it sold out in rather short order. Now, after ten years, a followup has arrived.
To me, the greatest merits of BKotBPC's first edition were the photographs of some very rare knives, both American and English, and the commentary by their former owner Ben Palmer and his friend, famed knifemaker Bill Moran. In particular, the latter's comments on the relative merits of each knife's design was especially interesting, something that collectors seldom give much thought to. The new book reprints the material from the first in its entirety, and adds some additional items that should make most who own the first book take a good hard look at buying the second. Specifically, the bowie makers listing has been expanded and over 40 pages of period bowie photographs added, as well as new chapters on "Photography and the Bowie" and "Bowie Knife Law." There are also some scattered bits of bowie ephemera that should pique the interest of collectors.
At $50.00 for a quality hardcover book, this would be a good buy even if it were not the only thing going. As things stand, it is 'must' reading for collectors, particularly if you're looking for photos of some knives not often seen, or curious about what Bill Moran might have to say about some of the old bowie designs. Consider it recommended.
Bowie Knives and Bayonets of the Ben Palmer Collection, 2nd Edition
by Ben Palmer, Bill Moran, and Jim Phillips
Hardcover, 224 pp.