Boyle & Gamble Knife


Description and Photograph



     The thirteen and a half inch Bowie knife shown here is an example of a high quality Confederate factory made knife.  The knife was made and marked by the Richmond, Virginia firm of Boyle & Gamble.  Edwin Boyle & Thomas Gamble manufactured all manner of edged weapons for the Confederacy including officer’s swords, artillery swords, cavalry swords, bayonets and Bowie knives.  Boyle & Gamble are best known for sword making because their swords are often encountered, but their well made knives are extremely rare and much sought after by collectors of Confederate antiques.

     The example shown here is near perfect.  The blade has not been cleaned but remains highly polished with the exception of an area near the ricasso which appears to be the result of the knife lying in a drawer for many years with the blade partially out of the scabbard.  The thin blade, oval cross guard, elegantly shaped one piece grip and the custom made tin scabbard are all Boyle & Gamble hallmarks.  The cross guard is stamped with ten stars and two decorative impressions.  I assume that the ten stars were intentional which would date the knife’s manufacture to just shortly after Virginia seceded.  North Carolina was the tenth state to enter the Confederacy on May 20, 1861 and Tennessee followed on June 8, 1861. 

     The knife is still sheathed in its original tin scabbard which is virtually perfect, even retaining a large portion of its original japanned finish.

     Boyle & Gamble and the Burger Brothers were known to be in the saw business prior to the War and their knife blades are made of the high quality flexible steel that was used in the saw blades.  Accompanying this knife is a Burger, Boyle & Gamble circular which advertises and extols the virtues of their saw blades.  A letter dated November 25, 1860 is written on the back of it which is addressed to Mr. P.C. Gilchrist, Lexington, North Carolina.  Mr. Gilchrist is a retailer and is offered the saws at 15% below the listed price and is signed Burger & Boyle.  We learn from this circular that the company made saws of all types.  It is also stated that all Burger, Boyle & Gamble products are unconditionally warranted and can be identified by the company’s stamp on all products.  The circular is in excellent condition and is accompanied by the cover in which it was mailed.

     This is undoubtedly one of the very best of these rare maker marked knives in existence.  The company’s stamp was held at a slight angle when struck so that the only the first few letters of Boyle can be seen, but Richmond Va is stamped deeply.  The grip and cross guard remain tight and the knife fits its scabbard like a glove.                                                         



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