Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Historic Massive Sheffield Bowie Knife C. 1838 By John Middleton With Great Period ID On Brass Plaques To American Seminole War Captain Hezekiah L. Thistle. Knife itself of huge proportions, being very heavy and 16 1/2" overall with 12" long 1 1/2" wide spear point blade with median ridge and unique ricasso. The ricasso is 2 3/8" with a raised triangular section in the center with 5/8" vertical sides. Marked on both sides in a panel at the base "John Middleton / Cast Steel / Sheffield. Blade generally light gray with a few scattered dark areas of salt and peppering and a couple of small areas with very light pitting. One edge nick 3 1/2" from the tip. The crossguard of German silver terminating in scrolls on either side of a point with the right side of the guard broken and missing. Heavy cast German silver hilt, the untouched patina now giving it a tonal quality similar to brass, with 5/8" faceted bolster at the top, 5/16" wide side straps which angle inward at the base to a flat cap pommel. Heavy faceted ivory plaque grips each fastened with 4 pins with a 5/16" diameter, German silver lined lanyard aperture at the base. Grips about perfect with some very fine age hairlines and nice mellow patina, perfectly sound. Pinned to the center of each side of the grip is a 1 1/2" X 1/4" clipped corner German silver plaque with absolutely original period engraved name "CAPt H. L. THISTLE". The original scabbard which is rather fragile, mounts a 2 1/8" German silver throat with two belt loops on the reverse. The throat actually displays what appears to be the remains of a silvered finish. The tip is also German silver, very heavy and 5 3/4" long tapering to 3/4" wide flat face on the bottom. The original leather, while remaining 95% present is quite fragile with cracks along the edges and the stitching open on the back. It is decorated with embossed geometric designs filled with fine checkering. Captain Hezekiah L. Thistle of Louisiana served as the Senior Captain and Commandant of the Philadelphia Volunteers in the Wars in Florida with the hostile Seminoles from 1836 - 1838. Thistle was very vehement in his hostile feelings toward the Seminoles in his letters (copies of which are included) to the Secretary Of War recommending methods to expel them from the region, which, of course, proved, eventually, relatively ineffective. In 1837 Thistle also patented the "Thistle Litter", designed for use on pack animals for the transport of wounded, which was actually adopted for use by the U. S. Military. Thistle also patented a breech loading system for firearms that apparently never found favor and passed into obscurity.
    A magnificent Bowie Knife, both intrinsically and historically, and the only knife we are aware of with a credible history of use during the Seminole Wars.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2012
    8th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,867

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on Dec 8, 2012 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 13 days left to consign to the 2022 January 8 Featuring The Michael Ward Collection of Western Americana & Political Signature® Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search