RARE PEARL LIBERTY&UNION CROSS GUARD~FEDERAL EAGLE BOLSTER&POMMEL DIRK c.1852-63 For Sale
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RARE PEARL LIBERTY&UNION CROSS GUARD~FEDERAL EAGLE BOLSTER&POMMEL DIRK c.1852-63:
RARE PEARL LIBERTY&UNION CROSS GUARD~FEDERAL EAGLE
BOLSTER&POMMEL DIRK c1852 -63
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FEDERAL EAGLE MID-BOLSTER & POMMEL 2 BLADED SHEFFIELD FOLDING DIRK WEAPON
MADE FOR A WEALTHY AMERICAN PATRIOT GENTLEMAN CIRCA 1852 - 1863
WITH stunning and highly sought after "Liberty & Union" mid-19th Century Mother of Pearl Gentleman's Sheffield dirk self-defense weapon with the desirable & rare American Eagle mid bolster is from the famous Colonel C.J. Hyde collection. Refer to the very interesting article "Here Comes Colonel Hyde", written by the late Bill Williamson in the American Blade magazine, July/August 1980, pages 30-33 & 72-74. This 8 page article has pictures of Col. Hyde, as well as some of the Sheffield Folding Dirks from his collection. A copy of this article is available to the purchaser. Bill Williamson was an Icon in the Knife World, and wrote many informative knife articles during his lifetime. Refer to the Butterfield & Butterfield "The William R. Williamson Bowie Knife Collection" sale catalog of his collection that sold on January 28, 1997. Col. Hyde favored Sheffield Folding Dirks, Folding Bowies, and extended blade Folding Dirks from the 1830's to the Civil War period; and also did meticulous restoration to his knives. In restoring the blades, he used kerosene or coal oil and different grits of natural and artificial stones to restore the finish as close as possible to the original crocus of Iron polish that was used by Sheffield makers. To Col. Hyde, it was a matter of preserving these fine knives for posterity. To avoid removing the important blade markings, he would use up to 800 strokes with a fine 900 grit stone on the ricasso; and, his painstaking restoration of just the knife blades would take up to 10-15 hours. Some of Colonel C. J. Hyde's collection was sold at sale by Butterfield & Butterfield on May 30th, 1994; the only time that a knife collection consisting primarily of Sheffield "Folders" have been sold at sale. This exact knife is pictured as lot # 1251, page 2; and sold for $3,300 (in 1994 dollars + sales tax + travel expenses). A copy of this catalog page & cover is available to the purchaser.
This single-edged Dirk was made primarily as a self-defense weapon. Since there was no law and order in the Cities, it was "every man for himself". Gentlemen would typically carry a percussion revolver for self-protection that were prone to misfire; and thus, would usually carry a concealed knife as a back up weapon in their vest or pants pocket. This Sheffield Folding Dirk is 10 1/8" long open, and 5 1/2" closed. Overall this hefty pocket knife; weighing 7.1 ounces! The four hilt scales are select Mother-of-Pearl, and retain the iridescence of 19th century Mother-of-Pearl before the oceans became polluted. The scales are secured with brass pins, and the liners are also brass. These Mother of Pearl scales are in fine condition. One scale has what at first may appear to be a crack; however, this is a naturally occurring layering to the Mother-of-Pearl material when it was being formed. I found one minuscule chip where the cross guard meets the liner; but it is almost impossible to see with the naked eye; and only visible with a magnifying glass. All of the American motifs (Liberty & Union riband, Federal Eagle, field of stars, olive branches, Liberty cap, Scales of Justice, et al) are en suite, and intended to appeal the an American Patriotic Gentleman of means. This was a very expensive accouterment at the time, that only a wealthy gentleman could afford.
The ricasso is hot stamped "Tillotson & Co", "Columbia Place" and "Sheffield" in three lines on BOTH blade ricassos; usually found on display knives so the Maker name would be visible regardless of which side was displayed. The Tillotson family were one of the most important members of Sheffield's cutlery fraternity, with 3 Master Cutlers. Thomas Tillotson had been a Master Cutler in 1789; John Tillotson in 1810, and George Tillotson in 1817. The firm was located at Columbia Place in 1852, and went out of business in 1863, which dates the ricasso marking to this time frame. The single edged Master dirk blade is designed for stabbing & slashing as a self-defense weapon. The elongated pen blade is 2 3/4" long, with the early style "kick" in the ricasso used to adjust the blade to the proper level when fitted inside the hilt. Both blades have extra feature of a 1/2 stop; i.e., the blades are ground so that they either will stay when opened at 90 degrees to the hilt. This pen blade has no nicks and a full tip; and shows remnants of tiny pit marks to the steel blade; mostly on the obverse side, that had developed over the last 100+ years prior to being properly restored by Col. Hyde. The 4 11/16" long Master spear point blade has no nicks and a full tip, and has a 2 7/8" long swedge ground from both sides from the tip backward, which creates a false edge. This blade also had a long, 1 3/8" early style nail nick. The Master blade shows only traces of minuscule light pit marks to the steel blade that had developed over the last 100+ years, prior to being properly restored by Col. Hyde. These tiny areas of original, naturally occurring pitting were lightly and professionally removed in restoration; yet both blades retain their original shape with full tips, and a luster / final polish as close to the original crocus of Iron polish as could be achieved. Sheffield makers knew that lock back dirks with a delicate two piece back spring were weak and could easily be "sprung"; and thus, could soon be rendered damaged and unusable. Thus, this Master blade has a stronger, one piece back spring. This Master dirk blade stays tight in the open position with just a tiny bit of movement side to side; and snaps closed properly, with a strong snap. The pen blade also stays tight in the open position. The swell center end pommel caps depict the early style American Federal Eagle above a shield, a field of stars above, and olive branches below; and with a Liberty Cap and the Scales of Justice above. The mid bolster depicts the early style American Federal Eagle on a shield, with a field of stars above, and olive branches below. The top cross guard is in the well known and sought after "Liberty & Union" style, with the words "LIBERTY AND UNION" in a riband with an Acanthus leaf center. These heavy, 2 bladed folders were not practical, having delicate, fancy cross guards that could easily catch on a pants or vest pocket when removing it; and thus, many were broken off. Also, some owners would purposefully cut the quillons off so that the knife remained usable and more readily accessible; but without the cross guard catching on the clothing. To quote Col. Hyde; "The reason I've restored and polished old knives is that many are in a state of decay, needing attention because of use and abuse. Some fellow had a fine old knife which he left someplace, exposed to the extremes of heat and cold, or of wet and dry. Often rusting and pitting has set in. I like to put a knife back close to it's original condition. Once in my collection, it will stay in good shape for years to come. It's a matter of preservation as I see it." On this dirk, Col. Hyde apparently had a knife with a cross guard that had a broken quillon. It would have looked restored if he had simply replaced a portion of the cross guard. Thus, he meticulously took one side of the original cross guard, and painstakingly made a mold; which he then cast twice in what appears to be coin silver. The brass backing to the quillons was replaced, exactly as the original appeared. It is nearly impossible to discern this restoration, as it was done properly and professionally. Most advanced collectors would never recognize this professional restoration, as the only way one can tell is that there is a very slight difference in coloration between the lead filled stamped German silver pommel caps and mid bolsters, and the cross guard. These early folding dirk knives were completely hand forged, hand ground, hand fitted, hand polished; i.e., completely hand made, using only simple hand tools; and were created to be used only as a weapons. They fall into the early category of edged weapons made for personal self-defense purposes; and thus have the accompanying Mano-a-Mano romance and history associated with this early period of American history. They are the Gentleman's counterpart to the Bowie knife, but are many times rarer than their fixed blade counterparts.
This Liberty & Union Sheffield Folding Dirk is for the discerning collector who wants a rare, fancy, mid 19th Century Sheffield Folding Dirk self defense weapon that has LOTS of eye appeal, and will only increase in value. I have seen other Sheffield Liberty & Union folding dirks; mostly single bladed, and most with horn or stag scales. The two bladed Dirks are quite rare; especially with premium hilt scale material. I have never seen another 2 bladed Liberty & Union Sheffield Folding Dirk with Mother of Pearl scales in this combination of American Patriotic motifs on the cross guards, mid bolsters & pommels. 95% of all 19th Century Sheffield knives were imported into the burgeoning American market. Given this pre-Civil War American heritage and legacy, these self defense weapons are perhaps 50 to 100 times rarer and more desirable than their fixed blade counterparts; but not 50-100 times the price. Most collectors have never seen, much less had an opportunity to own a handsome, eye appealing, self defense weapon such as this without traveling to an sale house, and offerding until you are the last man standing, to end up owning the piece (plus buyer's premium, + taxes, + expenses). This Fine, Unique Sheffield Folding Dirk knife would make a handsome display piece in any knife, dirk, Bowie, edged weapon, Civil War, gambling, Old West, Western Americana or Military Officer's accouterments collection; as well as an excellent Investment.
The famous Colonel Hyde Collection 1970's - 1980's
The Joseph Shields Sheffield Folding Dirk collection 1980's to 1994
A private California Collection 1994 - & ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER, e-CHECKS & ALL MAJOR CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS THROUGH PAY PAL. PREPAID NEGOTIABLE U.S.A. BANK DRAFTS DRAWN ON A U.S.A. BANK CONSIDERED WITH PRIOR APPROVAL. INTERNATIONAL buyers MUST PAY VIA PAYPAL ONLY.
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