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Von Tempsky Bowie 11



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"Old Von was a terror with the bowie knife"

This replica Forest Ranger Bowie Knife is based on the knife design than von Tempsky issued to his company of Forest Rangers in 1863.

Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky, adventurer, soldier and artist, learned the benefits of bowie knife fighting in California while working in hte gold fields. He possessed a fine knife of American manufacture for his own use, but had about 30 bowie knives made to his personal design by a cutler of Shortland St, Auckland. These were issued to the men of No. 2 Company, New Zealand Forest Rangers, under Major von Tempsky's command.

The Forest Rangers were an elite corps of bush-roving scouts employed by the colonial government between August 1863 and October 1867 during the New Zealand Wars. "They were the Forest Rangers, whose very name carries a flavour of adventure in the Dangerous Lands, suggests tales of scouting and skirmish and ambuscade, and bush marching and camping in wary silence." (James Cowan, historian)

The knives were made from waggon spring steel - being one of the few sources of suitable steel available to blacksmiths in Auckland in 1863.

Von Tempsky, an experienced fighter, taught his men to use the bowie knife in one-on-one armed combat. The knife was used

to fend off an opponent's attacking blows while a revolver was used in the other hand.

The big knives were also used to clear tracks through bush, dig defensive positions, cut fire wood and for general use about camp.

A 1900 inerview with John Toovey, an ex Forest Ranger corporal, appeared in a 1935 issue of The New Zealand Railways Magazine: He had a farm near Te Awamutu. Customarily, out on the farm and in the bush, he wore a sheath-knife on his belt. The knife was a veteran like himself. It had been nine or ten inches long of blade, but the point had been broken off, and he re-ground and pointed it; even then it was like a young bayonet. He told its story, "That's one of old Von's bowie knives," he said. "He had a lot made for us at a blacksmith's in Auckland when the Forest Rangers were divided into two companies and he had command of me.

"You know, old Von was a terror with the bowie knife. He had learned to use it in Mexico and Central America. Certainly it came in handy in the bush, and as we had no bayonets it was comforting to know you had a good sticker on your hip for a scrimmage.

"I've had that knife more than thirty years. See how it's worn down. I've used it for all sorts of jobs, hacking bush tracks, pig-sticking, skinning sheep, cutting up my tobacco and my loaf of bread. It'll last my day, my boy!"


Andrew Smith 01/27/2015

Von Tempsky Bowie Review

I've never had a knife that urges you to use it like the Von Temspky Bowie. You almost want to go camping/go bush just to use it and put it through it's paces. From chopping down trees and canopy, batoning fire wood and general camp use, there is nothing this knife can't do. Re-sharpening the convex edge can be a bit tricky at first but after you get use to it it's easy to put a edge on it shaving sharp. As much as other reviews question it's fit and finish, that's not the point of this knife, it's no safe queen - it's a user made tough to be used. You won't regret purchasing this knife!

  • 1 out of 1 people found this review useful.
Oliver 12/16/2014

Proud Owner of this grand new knife

This knife is one amazing site to see, Im very lucky to come across such a well made knife which so much character, the knifes craftsmanship takes you back to a time when people only owned one good knife their whole life. It not only brings back that old day nostalgia feeling but it instills a confidence in your ability to get the job done and you know you can with this knife. It may make you want to get rid of all your cheap market style bowie knives and invest in one timeless, well made, classic of a knife.

Thank you for continuing to make things by hand,



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    Von Tempsky Bowie 11

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