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Bone Handled Missouri Knife
FB-037 Bone Handled Missouri Knife

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Knives from the Arabia

Pocket Knives Recovered from the Steamboat "Arabia"

In 1856, a steamboat traveling up the Missouri River, laden with all sorts of goods bound for settlers during the Westward Expansion struck a submerged tree and sank.  The steamboat "Arabia" was filled with over 200 tons of cargo ranging from all manner of household goods and necessities, and much of her cargo was lost when she sank. 
In 1987 the wreck of the "Arabia" was discovered in a farm field, 45 feet underground and a half a mile away from the current banks of the Missouri River.  Thousands of artifacts were recovered during an excavation, and many in remarkably preserved condition.  The following picture is of some of the many Pocket Knives that were recovered from the "Arabia", and are currently on display at the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

The knives off the "Arabia" offer an incredible glimpse and give remarkable insight to period pocket knife patterns and styles of the Pre-Civil War era, as the knives onboard when she sank were of 1856.  A close study of the above photo will show a wide variety of blade styles, including clip points, spear points, sheepfoots, pruners, and hawk bills.  Knife patterns shown include swell end jacks, curved regular jacks, barlows, congresses, pruners and more.  Handle materials appear to be of wood, bone, stag, and horn.
I have attempted to capture and reproduce the styles and patterns of pocket knives of the period in my offerings here at Orchard Hill Cutlery.

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