Bowie Knife made by Samuel Bell
The San Antonio silversmith crafted Bowie knives for Texans
Bowie knife craftsman Samuel Bell offered customers finely crafted Bowie knives, made in his store on Commerce Street in San Antonio.
Samuel Bell (1798–1882) was born in Pennsylvania and later moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. Bell worked at an arms factory at age 14, making swords for use during the War of 1812. Although he served two terms as Knoxville’s mayor between 1840 and 1845, Bell became best known for his work as a silversmith, jeweler, and watchmaker. In 1851, Bell left Tennessee and settled in San Antonio, Texas, where he operated a store near the Alamo until his death in 1882.
The original Bowie knife was made for James Bowie (1796–1836) by the blacksmith at the Bowie family’s Louisiana plantation. With its butcher type blade, it was used initially for hunting. After Bowie used it in an 1827 duel with Norris Wright, a Louisiana sheriff, it developed into a popular weapon for self-defense. News of the duel spread and men everywhere wanted a knife like Bowie's. Bowie later died at the March 6, 1836, battle at the Alamo, advancing his, and the knife’s, cult status as an American icon.
Courtesy Kurt House, San Antonio
Time Period: 1845 - 1861
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