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Old South Military Antiques

Memphis Novelty Works/Leech & Rigdon Bowie Knife
Item #: OS-7006

Thomas Leech began the manufacturing of military equipage in Memphis, Tennessee during August of 1861. According to a September, 1861 advertisement, the company was established primarily to manufacture "Army cutlery and brass castings of all kinds.” In early 1862, Thomas Leech and Charles Rigdon formed a partnership and continued making swords, knives, spurs, stirrups, bayonets and all manner of brass mountings.

In May of 1862, Leech and Rigdon moved their works to Columbus, Mississippi and added revolvers to their line. The firm did not stay in Columbus long; the threat of invasion was so strong that late that same year the firm once again relocated, this time to Selma, Alabama. After operating at Selma for a few months, Leech and Rigdon moved to Greensboro, Georgia where they continued making pistols, but seem to have quit making swords and knives by this time. Their partnership formally ended December 13, 1864.

This twenty-three and half inch Leech and Rigdon knife is one of the largest of, this pattern. It has an eighteen and a half inch double edged blade. The wooden grip was first wrapped with twine and then it was covered with oilcloth and wrapped with two strands of twisted brass wire. The knife is completely original, all the way down to its original throat washer. It has not been altered in any way. Its original tin mounted scabbard is as fine as the knife, it is perfection itself and as strong as when it was made.

The name Joseph Wills is lightly scratched into the scabbard’s sheath. There is more writing on the scabbard, but there are so many scratches on top of it, that I cannot make it out. (or haven’t been able to yet)

There are three possible identifications:

Joseph A. Wills, Co. E, 13th Georgia Cavalry, Joseph P. Wills, Co. C, 16th Virginia Infantry and Joseph S. Wills, Co. G, TX, Hardeman’s Arizona Cavalry. The most likely owner was the first, Joseph P. Wills Co. E, 13thGeorgia Cavalry, but it is impossible to say with certainty.

This is the exact knife shown on page 120 of Confederate Bowie Knives.

In short, this rare knife does not come any better.

Not for Sale