Gold Rush is on for Svord Von Tempsky Bowie

Bowie Today

Svord Knives is teaming up with H.L. Dalis to produce a special, historically-accurate version of their long-running Svord Von Tempsky Bowie. Called the Gold Rush edition, this unique variant first released in a limited run of 25 pieces, but will soon see wider distribution.

The knife takes its name from Gustavus von Tempsky, a Prussian soldier of fortune. “He went where he felt like going, and where there would be work for an adventurer,” says Jon Blumenfeld, President of H.L. Dalis. Although von Tempsky traveled far and wide, he left his greatest legacy in New Zealand, where he led a contingent of Forest Rangers against the Māori.

Von Tempsky ended up in California during the Gold Rush, where he first discovered the Bowie knife. “He adopted it as a sidearm. He became proficient in it, and it became his trademark so to speak,” Blumenfeld tells us. In 1863 he commissioned a New Zealand bladesmith to make a batch of Bowie knives to his specifications for distribution among his men.

Svord recreated the soldier’s signature blade with the original Von Tempsky Bowie. The Gold Rush edition goes a step further, with a sheath that utilizes a historically accurate retention method. “Belt loops on sheaths weren’t around then,” Blumenfeld explains. Men would secure their knives with a protruding piece of metal, called a button, that would catch on a belt when the knife was thrust under it.

The Gold Rush Bowie holds special appeal for 19th and early 20th century recreationists – like the Single Action Shooting Society – looking for an off-the-shelf, accurate replica knife for their reenactments. Unlike most replicas, the Gold Rush Bowie can be used. Made from L6 carbon steel, the 11” Bowie blade works just as well today as it did 150 years ago. “They were deadly then and if used in the same way they’re deadly now,” Blumenfeld says.


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Bryan Baker began making knives in 1983. As he tells it, he inherited the secrets of a singular hardening and tempering process from a Czechoslovakian maker he met by chance. Baker eventually established his own plant, and today he works with a small crew near Auckland, New Zealand. Projects like the Gold Rush Bowie appeal to his historical bent. “He oversees his shop carefully, and in many ways, if he likes a project he’ll want to work on it,” Blumenfeld says of Baker.

The first, numbered run of Gold Rush Von Tempsky Bowies are sold out, but H.L. Dalis and Svord plan to bring a larger run to market in the coming months. It will feature brass instead of copper accents but otherwise remains the same. The price and release date are still to be determined.


Knife featured in image: Svord Von Tempsky Gold Rush Bowie

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