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Was the 'original' Bowie knife forged from a meteorite?

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posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:19 PM
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I should first say, that the idea for this thread came from a conversation with a friend. We were just talking one afternoon, when he started to tell me about a documentary he'd recently watched about the Alamo. In this particular documentary was mention of Jim Bowie and the infamous knife and how it was supposedly forged from a meteorite. This grabbed my attention straight away and it wasnt a story i'd heard before, so i started looking into it, mainly to find out if there was any truth to it.







The designer of the knife was apparently Colonel James "Jim" Bowie, made famous before the Alamo for the very bloody Sandbar duel, a fight which resulted in Bowies assailants being disemboweled, nearly decapitated and having a cracked skull, Bowie himself was stabbed, shot and severely beaten but walked away to tell the tale.

The design was passed to a blacksmith for him to make the knife for Bowie.


James Bowie wiki


The blacksmith was a man named James Black and it was said that the knives he made became a booming business until he was nearly blinded by an attacker in 1839.


James Black wiki


I cannot find any information that confirms the 'original' Bowie knife was forged from a meteor, it appears to get mentioned in discussion on the subject but without any proof we have to accept it as historic hearsay.

But there are some aspects of the tale that make me wonder.

James Black only ever worked behind leather curtains, to keep his process a secret. He was able to achieve blades that were very tough yet flexible, something which was very difficult to achieve at the time. His blades were so highly rated that some thought he had rediscovered the secret to Damascus steel, and when it came time to pass the secret on he mysteriously couldnt remember how to.

So there is a certain mystique to the blacksmith James Black, was his secret to use meteorites in his process of making the blades?. If the tale is true then maybe the qualities in his knives were due to the makeup of the meteorites he used, we will probably never know but its an interesting story all the same.

Feel free to add any thoughts or information.




posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:39 PM
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If true, i would be interested to know how many meteorites he had at his disposal.

It may be that he had knowledge of how Roman blades were made and Japanese blades for example. He may have combined a few techniques in order to create a substantially better blade.

Possible problems come to my mind when I consider the meteorites.

You cannot guarantee that you are going to find lots of them. Getting them hot enough to forge into a blade might be a task in itself and if you did have several of them, they may not all be of the same construction so forge temperatures may have to vary greatly..
Combining them with the correct hard and soft metals in order to get a strong blade that wont snap must have been a massive trial and error type task.. Learning from mistakes would require a good supply of meteorites.

nice idea though, to have a blade made from them... wouldn't mind giving that a go myself if I had enough to melt together to form a blade.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:41 PM
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That's interesting, never heard that story before. Perhaps something would be found if any original knives made by him still survive.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:48 PM
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Meteorites can be made up of iron - the same crap we have here on Earth. So I don't see how that would make his knives unique.

On the other hand....Why just a meteorite? Why couldn't the black smith have been making knives from the exotic metals he salvaged from a downed UFO? Think about it - he made knives that had unusual properties, and the UFO theory would explain a lot.

And before you laugh about this idea, watch this movie trailer:


Hey, anything's possible!



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:49 PM
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reply to post by harrytuttle
 


They can be made of iron, but could they have been made of some other kind of alloy that wasn't discovered yet at the time? Very plausible if you ask me, more plausible than making them out of crashed UFOs.
edit on 4-2-2011 by warbird03 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:52 PM
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This is very interesting and I haven't heard of it before. Now I am not a metallurgist, but here are my thoughts. Is it theoretically possible to make a steel blade using a meteorite as a source of iron? Yes. Is it likely James Black used a meteorite? Not likely at all. Meteorites contain more than iron, so he would have had to first refine the iron and remove the impurities in a blast furnace or more crudely in a crucible, then add the correct amount of carbon in a furnace or crucible to make a fine quality steel. I'm not sure blast furnaces existed on the frontier at that time to create the heat needed to make fine quality steel. My theory is that he obtained the steel from somewhere else and used his self-developed "secret" techniques or skills to make the fine Bowie knife we all know.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 03:04 PM
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Nah, he just designed a great strong knife fit for purpose, just like Fairburn Sykes and the guys from that era knew how to use them.

Bit off topic, but so does this guy! Gurka brings a knife to a gunfight



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 03:21 PM
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Some interesting comments being brought forward, the UFO theory puts a whole new angle on things
.

Through looking around for info on the story i came across another tale of excalibur also being forged from a meteorite, i cant imagine how big that meteorite must have been to have had a broadsword forged from it.


Theres a lot of reasons why we would have doubts about the authenticity of the story, and many of them came up while i was looking into it. The fact remains that no matter how silly the idea, it is plausible as meteorites have been used as a source for metal in the past.


For the fashion-conscious warrior, rocking some iron ornamentation generally posed a problem if your culture was only in its Bronze Age. Before mining technology allowed for the ready harvesting of iron ore, one of the few sources for this durable metal was the bits that plummeted from the sky: meteoric iron.
source

Even in the bronze age they had a way of extracting the metal from meteorites, so it must have been possible in the 1830s, was this also part of his secret.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 03:22 PM
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Originally posted by tilpah
Nah, he just designed a great strong knife fit for purpose, just like Fairburn Sykes and the guys from that era knew how to use them.

Bit off topic, but so does this guy! Gurka brings a knife to a gunfight



I read that thread, the mans a modern day hero.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 03:36 PM
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Another thing to think about is the fact that he likely wouldn't have access to billets of refined iron all of the time. Many of the implements on the frontier were made of buggy springs that were similar to the leaf springs on a pickup. Long thin steel bars that are already in a useable shape.

With a limited selection of steel, a blacksmith had to use whatever metals he found available, bronze, brass, copper, nickel, even silver or lead may have been used.

It's likely this blacksmith came across a good combination at some point or learned it from another and kept the secret.

As far as using the metal from a meteorite.....it could happen. It's not likely he had a lot of meteorites to work with though.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 04:32 PM
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Originally posted by badgerprints
As far as using the metal from a meteorite.....it could happen. It's not likely he had a lot of meteorites to work with though.



I had the very same thought until i learnt that america was well known for meteorite strewn fields, especially in the hot, arrid and flat lands like texas and mexico etc. There was even a gold rush like period of meteor hunters in the 1800s reportedly finding fields covered in the small black rocks, so an abundance of this meteor/iron is possible even if just for a short while.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 08:49 PM
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Meteorites are a high nickel iron and would make a good blade if done properly.

Japanese swords are made from magnetic black sands from stream beds or beaches that likely contain meteorite dust. also naturally occurring chromium and manganese

Japanese swords are made of low carbon steel core with a high carbon steel ("Tamahagane"steel possibly with a low nickel content from the meteorite dust and naturally occurring chromium ) hammered and folded over the low carbon steel core.

Likely a high Nickel and manganese steel mix would add to its tensile strength.
If James Black mixed part meteorite nickel iron with iron from black magnetic sands high and used that to form his steel it would have been a almost unbreakable knife.

Many blacksmiths in that time period used what ever iron and steel they could get and if a farmer turned up a nickel iron meteorite when he plowed up his field he would have traded it to a blacksmith for work on his farm equipment,

All blacksmiths had there secret recipes for steels and most would have known about meteorite nickel iron and how to make nickel Crucible steel(Maraging steels) from meteorite nickel iron.
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...

Knife makers were some of the best blacksmiths in those days only topped by gun makers

One 100 pound meteorite could have been broken up and used to make a 1000+ pounds of good nickel steel by adding it to iron from other sources with other properties.
edit on 4-2-2011 by ANNED because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 10:54 AM
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Originally posted by ANNED
Meteorites are a high nickel iron and would make a good blade if done properly.

Japanese swords are made from magnetic black sands from stream beds or beaches that likely contain meteorite dust. also naturally occurring chromium and manganese

Japanese swords are made of low carbon steel core with a high carbon steel ("Tamahagane"steel possibly with a low nickel content from the meteorite dust and naturally occurring chromium ) hammered and folded over the low carbon steel core.

Likely a high Nickel and manganese steel mix would add to its tensile strength.
If James Black mixed part meteorite nickel iron with iron from black magnetic sands high and used that to form his steel it would have been a almost unbreakable knife.

Many blacksmiths in that time period used what ever iron and steel they could get and if a farmer turned up a nickel iron meteorite when he plowed up his field he would have traded it to a blacksmith for work on his farm equipment,

All blacksmiths had there secret recipes for steels and most would have known about meteorite nickel iron and how to make nickel Crucible steel(Maraging steels) from meteorite nickel iron.
en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...

Knife makers were some of the best blacksmiths in those days only topped by gun makers

One 100 pound meteorite could have been broken up and used to make a 1000+ pounds of good nickel steel by adding it to iron from other sources with other properties.
edit on 4-2-2011 by ANNED because: (no reason given)
What he said; this here is good and acurate info.
edit on 2/6/2011 by lonegurkha because: (no reason given)

edit on 2/6/2011 by lonegurkha because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 04:37 PM
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So it would appear that the secretive way James Black worked is nothing unusual amongst blacksmiths, guarding their process would be a natural thing to do, especially if that process was bringing in a booming business.

Very understandable.




However, if he'd guarded this process so closely, wouldnt you expect it to be a little less likely he'd forgotten how to do it when it came time to pass the secret on.


Black lived on a local plantation for a couple of years until Dr. Isaac Newton Jones took him into his home. Black lived with the Jones family for the next 30 years. Black attempted to pass on his knife-making secrets to Daniel Webster Jones, but unfortunately could not remember the technique. Jones would later become Governor of Arkansas. James Black died on 22 June 1872 in Washington, Arkansas.
wiki James Black



edit on 6/2/2011 by Catch_a_Fire because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 12 2011 @ 03:14 PM
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This idea may have entered the mythos of the Bowie knife through Hollywood. Alan Ladd made a movie called "The Iron Mistress" back in the late forties or early fifties. It was actually on Turner Classics just a couple of weeks ago. Much more myth than fact in the movie, which is usually the way Hollywood prefers.



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 05:15 PM
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reply to post by kettlebellysmith
 


I had wondered if the story came from a movie myth


If we could trace the tale back to the days of those movies then that would be the most logical answer, if however the tale originated closer to the days of bowie then i would suspect it has some truth in it.

I just seem to have hit a brick wall in the search for any evidence denying or confirming any truth to it.



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 05:51 PM
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Anybody that wants a Bowie knife made from a meteor, there's 2 nice ones here.

Meteorite Knives Damascus Meteorite Knives






posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:49 PM
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reply to post by Ferris.Bueller.II
 


Nice knives a little pricey but a few of the meteorite rings are nice.
My wife and I are now considering the meteorite wedding rings from the link since we don't have any.
I think that would cool to have wedding rings made from space metals.
Do most of the meteorite knives have the wavy line patterns?



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 11:15 PM
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Does anyone have the original knife?
It'd be easy to figure it out then.
Or maybe the black smith just had
a special technique. who knows.



posted on Feb, 18 2011 @ 10:04 AM
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reply to post by EternalChef
 


There are a few claims to the ownership of the original Bowie knife, although some have been proven to be a hoax or mis-identified. The claim that seems to stand most truthful is that of the Moore family.


The Bart Moore knife is a claimant for the title of Bowie's Alamo knife. The Moore family asserts that an old Mexican soldier, who claimed to have participated in the storming of the Alamo, gave the knife to Mr. Moore's grandfather. The soldier supposedly retrieved the knife from where it lay by one of the funeral pyres and had kept it for many years. He offered it to Mr. James F. Moore as payment for a five-dollar debt.

The Moore Knife is a Clip point blade 8-1/4" long with iron furniture and an oak handle that appears to have been replaced. The blade has "J. Bowie" scratched on one side and the initials J.B. on the other. This knife not only claims to be the Alamo Bowie, but also the knife made by Arkansas blacksmith James Black from Bowie's original idea. Black claimed to have made two knives, one as Bowie requested and one of Black's own design. Bowie chose Black's design over his own.


From what is stated above you would think that its authenticity was proven, however,


The Saunders museum in Berryville, Arkansas has another knife that James Black supposedly made for Rezin Bowie as a presentation knife. It has a 6-1/2" clip point blade and finely made hardwood coffin handles attached by six pins with a silver wrapped pommel, silver bolster and escutcheons. The blade is engraved "Made and Presented To His Friend Capt. Thos. Tunstall by Col. Bowie - White River - Arkansas Ter. Near Batesville - 1833". This is a well-made and finely detailed knife with engraving similar to the inscription on the Schivley/Perkins knife. This leads some authorities to speculate that it could be another Schively crafted blade.


and.....


The San Jacinto Museum has a spear point Bowie on display that Madame Candaleria alleges she took from the Alamo and later gave to the family of Sam Houston. Candaleria claimed that she was the nurse of James Bowie during the Alamo siege and took it from his body after his death. The English-made knife is marked W. & S. Butcher. It has a six-inch blade with a small nickel cross guard and is fitted with stag scale handles. There is also a second Alamo Bowie given by Candaleria to Charles Campbell of San Antonio who displayed it in his drug store.
A knife like Bowies.

Although many would agree that the original knife has been found we would also have other parties disputing this fact. Getting these knives together and doing as many tests as possible would seem the logical answer in helping to solve the case........is this ever likely to happen.....i doubt it.


edit on 18/2/2011 by Catch_a_Fire because: typo



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