Tag Archives: Larry Brandstetter

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie Provenance

Some time back, I picked up a reproduction 1850 Sheffield Bowie built by Larry Brandstetter which I wrote up in a previous post.  Luckily, the individual I got the knife from was able to give me Mr Brandstetter’s name but couldn’t offer a lot more info.  A search of the internet didn’t turn up a whole lot more information.   All I really knew for certain was that this was one of the finest handcrafted knives I’ve been lucky enough to possess.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

The workmanship and attention to detail on the knife was impeccable.  The only identifying markings on the knife were on the ricasso.  It was marked with the makers initials and what I recently had confirmed, the serial #007.

Half Horse, Half Alligator Pommel
Nickel Silver Frog Clip

I bring this up for anyone interested in Larry Brandstetter and his knives as the amount of info about him is sparse at best for a knifemaker of his skill level.  The knife sold last week and I had the privilege of putting it in the hands of a personal friend of  Larry Brandstetter. He graciously shared a few details about the knife and Larry.  Here are a couple of excerpts from our email exchange you might find of interest.

“I just ordered and paid for the Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie.  Larry was a close personal friend of mine.  I have one small boot knife he made (not marked-way before he became known for his Sheffield Bowies).  I always wanted one of his Bowies but at the time could not come up with the money.  I used to go to his basement shop and watch him work on his bowies while we shot the breeze.  He and I were members of the same muzzle loading gun club and shot together monthly for years.  He also made some beautiful flintlocks.  I was at his funeral.  We had talked on the phone just a couple of weeks before his untimely death. I will treasure this knife and all the memories I have of my dear friend.  For your future reference, the number stamped on the piece is indeed the serial number.  I may have even watched him work on this piece.  Larry and I did knife making at the same time, though mine never achieved the craftsman ship of his.  I went on to scrimshaw and from time to time would supply Larry with ivory for use on his knives.  He did all the castings on knife and sheath himself.  The rifle he built for himself was a German Jager with swamped barrel, stock adorned with whale ivory and silver fittings.  On the cheekpiece was an ivory Prussian eagle with silver shield and silver wire inlay.  On the sliding wood patch box were two carved ivory cherubs holding a scroll which stated (in German) “All your skill is of no avail if an angel urinates in your touch hole.”  I miss him greatly and have searched for one of his Bowies for years.  I’ve finally found one.  Thank you very much.  Thank you for the writeup on the piece.  I can tell you are a fan of quality knives.  Larry would have been proud.”

In a later exchange after he received the knife he sent me the following info:

“…..I believe the hilt is made of linen micarta. ……… I remember him making a knife with micarta because I commented that for not much more the guy could have had genuine ivory. He was polishing out the blade in his shop at the time. Could have been this knife. Larry also did some folders and one lovely push dagger. This bowie has certainly brought back some wonderful memories.”

I had to think about the comment regarding ivory costing only slightly more then micarta.  Then I realized that 30+ years ago he was probably right!

It doesn’t happen very often but it just really feels great being able to put someone together with a knife or gun that had personal meaning to them like this.   While I enjoyed my brief ownership of this knife, putting it in the hands of a personal friend of the makers is a great feeling.    Many thanks for sharing this personal information with all of us.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

Last weekend I had the good fortune to acquire a few nice older knives, one of which is a reproduction 1850 Sheffield Bowie built by Larry Brandstetter.  This falls well outside of my normal interests but when I saw the knife I couldn’t resist.  Being a fan of Jim Bridger, Davy Crockett and other early frontiersman, I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with the 1850 Sheffield Bowie, this is as close as I’d gotten to one.

While I’m not familiar with Larry Brandstetter, he gained notoriety in the 1970’s and 80’s building reproduction Sheffield Bowie’s.  Not a lot of information is available online about him but he what I’ve gathered he was from Paducah, KY.   Few mentions of him are made in some of the discussion groups.  The piece I acquired is absolutely gorgeous.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

The knife measures 15″ OAL with a blade measuring 10.1875″ tip to guard.  From what I’ve read, I assume the blade is 440C as that was one of his common blade steel choices.

High polished 440C blade 10.1875″

I’m not sure of the handle material but it appears to be wood capped off with a nickel silver “Half Horse, Half Alligator” pommel.   Residents of Kentucky and Tennessee with a bit of an interest in history know, the half horse, half alligator was a symbol of the toughness of the Frontiersman.  Best summed up by Davy Crockett,  “I’m Davy Crockett fresh from the backwoods.  I’m half horse, half alligator and a touch of snappin’ turtle.  I’ve got the fastest horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle and the ugliest dog in the state of Tennessee.”

Half Horse, Half Alligator Pommel

The coffin handle is tapered with an exposed tang.

The makers initials L.D.B. and the number 007 is stamped in choil.  I have no idea if the 007 is a serial number or model number.

The sheath is a piece of art in and of itself.  The folded leather is joined at the back with an almost invisible seam.

The fittings on the sheath are nickel silver.

The Nickel Silver frog clip is an outstanding detail that really adds to the overall look.

Nickel Silver Frog Clip

When the knife is sheathed, the fit is perfect.  The sheath appears to be lined with velvet and holds the knife securely in place.

It’s just a gorgeous piece in fantastic condition.  Always fun to be able to offer a piece like this for sale.