Bark River Rebuilding Historic Brands with New Releases

Bark River Knives just released the iconic Scagel Bowie as the second model in their 2017 Scagel Series. The Escanaba, Michigan-based maker also revealed its plans to make knives for the Marble brand, recreating the company’s most famous patterns with signature Bark River quality.

The Scagel Series is named after William (Bill) Scagel, a man with a wide range of talents who made knives throughout the first half of the 20th century, predating any established custom knife scene. Original Scagel knives are so rare and valuable that several fetched upwards of $30,000 in a 2012 auction. Since Scagel’s death in 1962, his name trademark has switched hands several times, ending up with Bark River Knives’ owner Mike Stewart in 2015.

Bark River’s first Scagel Series release in 2017 was a more conventional 6.7” bladed Medium Field Knife, but the Bowie embodies Scagel’s unmistakable style. “It’s the flagship Scagel Bowie, with the big upswept trailing point that he was famous for,” Stewart says. Bark River will be implementing the first run of the massive 9.5-inch blade in A-2 tool steel.

Bark River’s Scagel Series is being worked on alongside both their standard models and knives from a new partnership with Marbles. “It’s really funny that the whole thing came back to me,” Stewart says. “It’s the height of irony.” Stewart left Marbles in 1997 when it started moving production to China. Three years later Marbles’ knife-making arm was purchased out of bankruptcy, and not long after Stewart was first approached about making a new line of American Marbles products.

“The Marbles knives we are producing now are the best Marbles knives ever made,” he tells us. The plan is to strengthen the brand’s reputation by rebuilding the core catalog one model at a time, with the next project being the 6” Ideal, their best-selling knife.

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Stewart indicates that two Bark River products, the Trail Buddy and the Canoe, are going away to make room for the original Marbles patterns that they were inspired by. Stewart says that despite names other than ‘Bark River’ on these new blades, the quality remains the same. “We make them the same way, with the same quality standards. We’ve got that dialed in and we’re not changing anything.”

Knife featured in image: Bark River Knives Scagel Bowie