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.
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.
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.