Top masters in the world of bladesmithing have donated the most exciting set of auction knives ever seen for the American Bladesmith Society Annual fund raiser at the 2012 Blade Show and International Cutlery Fair in Atlanta, GA on June 9th. High end damascus bowies, a magnificent trailing point hunter, and a ivory carved liner lock folder with damascus blade are up for auction. Let us take a look at what some generous and committed bladesmiths have donated to the annual auction and fund raiser for the American Bladesmith Society.
Each year the ABS gives the opportunity for bladesmiths to submit knives for its annual auction. One master smith and one journeyman smith are chosen to do a fixed blade, one master smith to do a folder, two or more directors from the ABS board to do a knife of their choosing, and a master smith to do the TOMB knife. Let us take a look at these fantastic knives.
Karl B. Andersen was chosen to make the ABS Journeyman Smith Knife of the Year for 2012. Karl B. Andersen created a beautiful large bowie knife with a damascus pattern that he calls his “radical random”. This striking masterpiece has a blade of 336 layers of 1095 and 15N20. It is deeply etched and hot blued. The handle is a beautiful premium desert ironwood. The fittings are hot blued and provide an excellent support to the rest of the knife. Karl’s handle on this knife was created for full take-down disassembly and assembly. Karl indicated that this allows the owner/collector to store the knife and do continual maintenance/care of the individual components. Karl indicated that this may be as “simple as relaxing the assembly to allow the handle to move under climate changes, or a full re-bluing of the assembly parts” after years of use. Karl pointed out that the sheath that accompanies this knife comes from ABS member Scott Teaschner of Cody, Wyoming. Scott is a high end leather smith and his talents are amply displayed in the accompanying sheath. The sheath is finely tooled with an actual inlay of elephant hide directly inletted in the sheath leather. Scott also donated this fine sheath as part of the project. When I asked Karl about the design, he humbly told me that his sole purpose was to “make something the ABS would be proud of”.
Joseph Szilaski was chosen to make the ABS Master Smith Folder of the Year for 2012. Joseph Szilaski donated one of the most fantastic folders I have ever seen. This knife is absolutely gorgeous. This is an ivory handled liner lock folder with a multi-bar damascus blade made from 1095 and 15N20. The pattern is old European in style. The blade is in a twist pattern and has been carved to accent and compliment the carving on the handle. The carving and file work in this folder are amazing. There is exquisite detail on the file work along the liners showing the skill of a master. Joe’s folder is breathtaking and all the small things are there too. The folder has a ruby thumb stud in a 14 k gold setting and there is intricate file work both inside and outside on the titanium liners and spine. Joe’s file work on this knife is just topnotch. This knife is just stunning.
Jon Christensen was chosen to make the ABS Master Smith Knife of the Year for 2012. Jon Christensen created the second of the three bowie-styled knives donated this year. The pattern on Jon’s knife is a very intricate and beautiful “quilted feathers mosaic” damascus. It is composed of 1085 and 15N20. This is a 7 and ¼ inch blade with a deep clip bowie pattern. Jon describes his bowie as having an early San Francisco style handle. The handle material is ironwood burl and the handle is a frame handle construction. I was amazed to see the carving on the handle and how that carving and engraving technique passed over across the tang from each side of the handle. Jon’s work is very precise and creative. The individual fittings are nitre-browned mild steel or nickel silver. Just the feel of this knife in your hand gives a sensation of sheer balance, strength and speed. This is Jon Christensen’s “cowboy bowie” and it is beautiful.
E. Jay Hendrickson, a former president of the ABS and a current board director, has donated a fine and handsome trailing point hunter knife as one of the ABS Director Knives of the Year for 2012. This knife is very special in that it is composed of a W2 core surrounded by 316 stainless steel. As Jay indicates this is a “difficult and unique process which offers a stainless steel blade welded to a high carbon steel core” so that you get the edge holding benefits of W2 mated to the stain resistance of 316SS. Jay has fitted knife out with a curly maple handle with fine silver inlay of scrolls and pins. The guard on Jay’s knife is file worked to add to the overall esthetic. Jay indicates that the handle material was purchased in 1987 by Bill Moran and bought by Jay in the 2006 Moran auction. Jay has finished off the knife with a high quality leather pouch sheath. This is truly another high quality piece that any user/collector should be proud to own.
Dr. Dan L. Petersen, one of the newer members of the ABS board directors was chosen to make an ABS Director Knife of the Year for 2012. Dan’s knife is also a bowie knife. Dan indicated that the blade is a damascus ladder type pattern produced from a W pattern billet. He used W2 and a modified L6 type steel in the blade. The heat treatment of the blade was a precision process using salt tanks to achieve an ultra-fine grained martensite structure. Dan indicated that this is his first frame handle that he has put on a bowie knife. The handle material is a white mastodon ivory. The knife is accompanied by a wood lined leather sheath of Dan’s creation. When Dan was asked about the overall shape of the knife, he shared the following, “I had been reading about the caning of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the US Senate in 1856. After Sumner’s attack it was reported that many legislators began carrying weapons into the halls of Congress. James Henry Hammond of South Carolina was reported to have stated, “Every man on the floor of both Houses is armed with a revolver – some with two revolvers and a bowie knife.” After reading this I speculated on what kind of bowie knife a legislator might have chosen to carry back then. While I cannot claim that this knife resembles any knife carried at the time by a legislator, its overall design is not outside of the possible and history was the inspiration behind the knife. Obviously, it was inspirational as I have made this knife using damascus and fittings that are not true to the period materials”.
This year the TOMB knife for 2012 is a damascus bowie made by Mastersmith Red St. Cyr. This knife is St. Cyr’s “Gentleman’s Bowie”. The overall length of the knife is 13 3/4 inches with a blade length of just under 9 inches. The damascus is a mix of 1084, 01 and nickel. The handle is African Blackwood and the deep black coloring of this handle is striking. The finish on the damascus is one of the best I have seen and the contrasts of damascus, stainless steel fittings, and deep black handle complement every aspect of this knife as a work of art. There are some who recognize the positive contributions of the organization known as TOMB, Each year the American Bladesmith Society has provided TOMB the opportunity to auction a knife to raise monies for the organization. TOMB is a fellowship organization that raises money to support the ABS Schools.
All of these knives are fantastic and represent both high art and functionality that has come to be recognized of ABS smiths. To donate knives of this caliber is truly amazing and clearly demonstrates the commitment these smiths have to support the American Bladesmith Society. The money raised by this auction allows the American Bladesmith Society to continue to offer its educational events across the country. For those of you who might consider bidding on these superb creations you will not only be bidding to own substantial works of art, but also you will be bidding to support the premiere knife organization in the world with a primary educational mission.
The 2012 American Bladesmith Society Knife Auction at the Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, GA will be on Saturday, June 9th at 10am. Additional information will be posted on the ABS Forum or you can contact the ABS Office at 419-832-0400 or send an email to the ABS Knife Auction Coordinator Dr. Dan L. Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org .