Will & Fink

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What can you tell me about Will & Fink, San Francisco makers of a gold rush era large Bowie knife?


-- Charles F. Lee (Clee827514@aol.com), October 10, 2004


A Will & Finck bowie knife was featured on PBS Antique Roadshow (Program #805 Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, calif., Premieres Monday, February 2, 2004 at 8pm ET on PBS)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/roadshow/series/ highlights/2004/sanfran/hour2.html

Will & Finck bowie knife appraised by Brad Witherell, of Witherell's, in Sacramento, California. Appraiser Brad Witherell was delighted to see the Will & Finck knife that John from San Jose brought to San Francisco. Mr. Witherell said it was the first example he'd ever had the chance to see at the ROADSHOW. The knife originallybelonged to John's grandfather, who used it as a letter opener. Mr. Witherell explained that Will & Finck were a company that began making knives in 1863, continuing till the turn of the century; in the 1920s the company got into a slightly different business, manufacturing gambling equipment. John's knife has several nice features that distinguish it, Mr. Witherell noted, including the unique clasp to hold it on a belt, which bears an 1872 patent. The maker's mark on the knife is also unusual, in that it appears on both sides. But what really makes this knife a sharp collectible is its handle, covered with an extraordinary number of silver studs. The knife blade is impressive too, as it still has its original polish and shows no signs of having been sharpened or played with. "It has a lot going for it," Mr. Witherell told John, "quite scarce and quite desirable." He put its value today at $30,000.

-- strange (stranger@yahoo.com), October 11, 2004.

My first post included a link that deposits you at the Roadshow homepage, not the article as I had hopped. Sorry. Use the search function to find the article that also has a photograph of the Bowie knife. You may be disapointed to find that it is not as large a Bowie knife as you had hoped for.

"WILL AND FINCK - S. F CAL." celebrated San Francisco cutlers and makers of gamblers' cheating equipment. The firm of Frederick Will and Julius Finck was in business between 1863 and 1932 (text used in describing a Will and Finck pepper mill. They also made corkscrews.)

-- strange (stranger@yahoo.com), October 11, 2004.

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