Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • ON TV
  • SHOP
  • The Roadshow Archive

    Will & Finck Bowie Knife, ca. 1872

    Appraised Value:


    Appraised on: August 16, 2003

    Appraised in: San Francisco, California

    Appraised by: Brad Witherell

    Category: Decorative Arts

    Episode Info: San Francisco, Hour 2 (#805)

    Originally Aired: February 2, 2004

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 3 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Knife
    Material: Silver, Ivory, Metal
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $30,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (2:17)


    Appraised By:

    Brad Witherell
    Arms & Militaria


    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: Well, it was originally my grandfather's. He's had it as long as I can remember. He used to use it as a letter opener. I know it's a Will & Finck, but I only know that because of what's on the knife. But other than that, I don't know anything about it.

    APPRAISER: Was he a native Californian?

    GUEST: Yeah, he was born and raised on a peninsula.

    APPRAISER: Oh, great. Well, we... On the ROADSHOW here, on our table, we always joke who's going to get the first Will & Finck knife to come on the show, and this is the first one that's shown up, to my knowledge, since its inception eight years ago. Will & Finck began manufacturing knives in 1863, and they continued on with knife manufacturing to about the turn of the century. And slightly before that, in the 20s, they made gambling equipment. There's several nice things about this knife, but the thing that we noticed first is this clasp that holds it onto your belt. It was patented in 1872. And then it's got the maker's name down here at the bottom, too. It's a unique clasp, and we only know of one other that has this type of a patent clasp on it. Now, we could be wrong, there could be more, but... The other unique feature about it is it's marked "Will & Finck, SF, Cal," where it should be marked, and yet it's also marked on this side, which is unusual. Normally they're just marked on one side. But I think the best feature is the grips, and they're walrus ivory, which was typical of California manufacturers, as opposed to elephant ivory. Typically, they put some silver studs on, but this is just a huge amount. You can see where they come all the way up the side and around, so it's got a lot going for it. Condition-wise, it's excellent. It's got a little bit of deterioration, but the blade itself has got the original polish on it, so it hasn't been sharpened or played with. Do you have an idea what it's worth?

    GUEST: Not really.

    APPRAISER: Okay. A knife with all this decoration would bring at least $30,000.

    GUEST: Wow. That's a... That's great.

    APPRAISER: Well, good.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube