October 31, 2018 10:00 AM EDT Cincinnati


521

Sheffield Bowie Knife Presented to G.A. Custer

5.25" spear point blade, bone handle with German Silver escutcheon with period inscription "G. A. Custer" engraved in the escutcheon. German silver guard. Blade marked with "N" shield "Y" on the reverse Sheffield. Red leather scabbard with German silver tip and throat with button. This was purchased during the sale when Dr. Frost purchased the Custer Farm.

A signed and notarized document dated February 16, 1980 stipulates provenance for the aforementioned Sheffield Bowie Knife, to whit: "This knife and sheith (sic) were acquired at public auction from Custer residence in Monroe, Michigan after Mrs. Elizabeth (Bacon) Custer died in April of 1933 by my late Husband Mr. H. M. Wilkinson. The knife was purchased from Mr. Wilkinson by C.E. Baer of Mansfield, Ohio in September of 1949 at the Richmond County Gun Collectors Meeting in Ashland, Ohio. The history of this knife was passed on to Mr. Wilkinson at the time of purchase and has been retained in the Wilkinson Family ever since the knife was purchased 46 years ago. Signed and Witnessed, Mrs. Harold Wilkinson/Mr. Carl E. Baer." Another more recent document dated March 12, 2018 on the letterhead of a Mansfield, Ohio Jeweler attests "that the engraving on this item was performed by hand and not by machine." Nothing could be found online regarding the 1933 "public auction."

We posit that this is likely the very blade carried by Custer during the Civil War as his personal side knife. A common knife was then a necessary if innocuous utilitarian item that was every bit as personal as, say, a pair of expensive pistols or high end sword owned by this larger-than-life personality.

Note: The wording suggests that, in fact, Carl E. Baer was the owner from 1949 and that The Wilkinson Family, namely Mrs. Wilkinson, retained only the "history" to which both parties signed the notarized document on February 16, 1980. Carl E. Baer was the husband of the current consignor.

Condition:

The knife is housed in a custom made wood case.  Overall the knife is in excellent condition.  

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$23,500
10/31/2018

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