One of Arkansas’s proudest pieces of history is that it is believed to be where Jim Bowie’s original knife was made in December 1830. Bowie designed the knife which was then crafted by blacksmith James Black at Washington, Arkansas, now Historic Washington State Park. The Historic Arkansas Museum, which has an extensive collection of Bowie Knives, is premiering “A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America,” the world’s largest such exhibit, on Dec. 13.
More than 200 historic blades are showcased in the display, which runs through June 22, 2014. Among these are designed associated with the legendary Alamo martyr James Bowie and his lesser-known brother Rezin. It also includes weapons owned by such well-known figures are Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, General Winfield Scott, and John Fox “Bowie Knife” Potter. The role of the knife in other parts of history, such as the antebellum and Civil War eras, along with its inclusion surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, is also examined.
Special activities scheduled for the opening include a symposium and an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 13. Saturday, Dec. 14 brings a knife film festival, bladesmithing demonstrations, gallery talks, and an “appearance” by Jim Bowie. A complete schedule of events is on the Historic Arkansas Museum website.
While at the museum, be sure and take in “Arkansas Made: History of the Bowie Knife,” a collection of more than 100 historical and modern knives which is the official exhibit for the American Bladesmith Society. One of the “stars” of the exhibit is the Bowie Knife #1. Historic Arkansas Museum is located in downtown Little Rock.