A Don Hanson Bowie Trilogy... :)

Jun 5, 2002
Well, as many of you know, I kind of went a little overboard in the last few months buying Don's knives, especially his fixed blades, I must claim, and my defense to this charge is, guilty, with justification, that being, his knives are truly among the finest I have EVER seen anywhere by anybody. His bowies are every bit as good, the workmanship every bit as flawless as his folders, which he is better known for, at least for now... :)

So, I was fortunate to pick up 3 large Hanson bowies fairly recently, and though I think a few quick pics of them all have been posted here and there, I thought I would consolidate all 3 bowies into one post, and, I have taken a lot of new pictures of them all, which I'd like to share with you.

I know Don appreciates any criticisms you have.

Anyway, first up is a large 9" bowie, amazing high layer count damascus blade, long false clip, the guard is his mosaic, the ferrule is a really neat wavy pattern, the handle is phenomenal, the deepest, vivid BLUE bark ivory I have personally ever seen, affixed and adorned with 7 18K gold pins per side. It is of mortised design executed flawlessly, I cannot detect the seam with my fingernail, it is perfect. The blade is diff tempered, though the line and color change is subtle on this one. The damascus is so finely layered that it has a sort of optical illusion quality to it, and shimmers in the light, hard to capture in a picture, but it's obvious in person. The knife is sleek, the materials are the best imaginable, and, as is the case with every single knife I have ever seen from Don, the workmanship is as close to flawless as is humanly possible, and trust me, I am as critical as they come. So, here are pics of this one, it is such a gem, I giggle every time I examine it, feeling giddy it's mine. :)




...Is an equally sweet, but very different bowie, this is a large 10.75" bowie with a killer stag handle and one of the most impressive and artistic Hamons I have seen from Don, or anybody, except maybe the "other" Don... :)

Don H. tells me this steel is a 1065 that has been modified by Howard Clark to his own specs. Clark is well known for his expertise in the field of metalurgy, and apparently has invented this proprietary modified carbon steel. The wide, long blade has a top clip, a very smooth, satin finish, and the Hamon is amazing in its complexity and artistry. There is actually a secondary, straight temper line above the wavy abstract one, this may be what the Japanese would call: "Utsuri" and was indicitive of a superior heat treat. The stag handle is long, and again, perfectly, seamlessly mortised, and, the quality and character of the stag is, well, I think you can see for yourself. :) Don's stash of world-class stag and fossil ivories is formidable to say the least. This handle is affixed with 3 nickel silver pins. The guard is a very attractive twist damascus, and as with all of Don's fixed blades, the blade is flawlessly press fit into the guard, and is fitted to it seamlessly. Many Mastersmiths could learn from Don in this, and other regards...

I am a sucker for a good Hamon, and a large bowie, and killer stag, and so, it just doesn't get any better than this. :)




...The Fish De Resistance..." (Of course for the less sophisticated among us, that's pronounced: "Feeeesh"... :)

The bowie that NYC wasn't ready for, but I was... :) NYC really scrwed the pooch on this one though, because I think this is the nicest, most appealing bowie I have ever owned or seen.

13" extremely finely layered damascus blade, with a truly spectacular Hamon, I love how the Hamon kind of follows the break between where the damascus was thinly layered, and then opens up into a sort of random pool type towards the spine, there is a dark line, with a sort of whitish outline that comprises this wonderful Hamon that, as our fellow collector Riad so artfully said the other day: "Breathes life into the knife born from ancient fires..." or something like that anyway... :) This knife has an almost organic quality to it, and, it is hands down the ONLY bowie of this massive size I have seen that is somehow utterly sleek and peerlessly graceful, think for a moment, if you will, what a 13" Fitch bowie would look like, I love John's bowies, but they don't look like this one. :)

Add some of the sweetest bark ivory for the, yet again, seamlessly mortised handle, this time Don used 3 NS pins, a twist damascus guard, again seamlessly joining the blade to that gorgeous handle, and how could you forget that amazing Hamon and the masterfully crafted damascus blade and guard, and well, I know I'm gushing, but maybe, just maybe, you can see why I might love this knife as much as I obviously do. I could go on, but I'll let the pics do the rest. :)





.....Those knives are almost as nice as the man who made them...
i'm still searching for words...Congrats and Enjoy them they are important pieces...
My favorite if one could possibly pick from that litter would be "Big Blue"
Perfect flow and proportions,and the transition from Blade to Guard to Ferrule is pure poetry
Inspired Work Man
The first two are wonderful, the third nearly inconcievable. Just gorgeous. Of course with a 13" blade I am assuming it was this one that you used to come up with the "arm and leg" that these three must have cost you :D
Those are friggin' unbeleivable. Those are three of the finest knives I've ever laid my eyes on. If you ever loose your mind and decide to sell any of your Hansons, TALK TO ME :D
Nothing short of magnificent. Beautiful knives expertly photographed.

The last one's shape is a study in simplicity. Formidable simplicity.

All I can say is that I can hardly wait for the next installment. This is WAY better than anything on TV. ;) Congrats Ari. Beautiful work Don.

I love the first one. IMHO, the collar makes for a better visual flow from the blade to the handle.
Joss, I think each design has its merits. I think that on the 13" bowie, the lack of a ferrule makes for a cleaner, better flow, I think the relative simplicy of the knife works better without a ferrule, while on the blue ivory bowie, I think the ferrule does look very nice. On the stag bowie, I think its a toss up, and could have gone either way, and would look nice either way.

BTW, I think Joss just demonstrated how to offer polite criticism, as was discussed in that other thread, however, let me just respond to Joss...

Yup; Looks like Mr. Hanson's work....Clean, Tasteful, and Elegant.

Missouri may make it onto the knifemaking map yet!!!!!

Beautifull knives, I know why you bought all 3, there's no way I could pick 1 over the other 2.
Cheers, Doug
Those are great looking Bowies.

I would sure like to have a seed from that money tree you've got. :D
This may seem hard to believe, with the several pricey knives Ive picked up recently, but, I honestly am not a wealthy guy, and, its all really a matter of priorities.

With very few exceptions, any new knife I buy was financed by selling one or more knives I already had, for example, the $$$ needed for the blue ivory bowie was derived from the sale of my beloved Fisk presentation Sendero, it hurt, but, it was the only way. I also had, notice I said had, not have, a fossil collection that took me about 10 years to assemble, well, its almost gone now, many of my knives were bought with money from selling it off piece by piece.

Also, I don't smoke, rarely drink, don't go out on weekends, travel, care very little, and spend even less on clothes, like I said, priorities... :) I think I just have a tighter focus on, and am willing to sacrifice more for my collection than most people, which allows me to buy more, if you knew how little I make a year, well, you wouldn't believe me based on my collection, but, I may end up being the homeless and (divorced) guy walking down the street, pushing a shopping cart of knives... :)
No doubt that you have a fantastic collection to be proud of.

Heck, I'm even proud of your collection. :)
Well, OK, so long as you know there is a small charge for being vicariously proud of my collection. Email me for details... :)
I must confess to having thought about how the big 13" bowie would look with a bolster or ferrule for a possible future discussion with Don. Then when I saw Joss's post on the same topic I took the liberty of having a "fiddle". So heres a rough 5 min photoshop manipulation of the 13" behemoth - (my apologies Don and Ari for the desecration).

What did it prove? - well now I'm going to have to save up twice as hard - bugger!


Very cool idea and execution Stephen! Well, having seen what the bowie would look like with a ferrule, I have to say I stand by my earlier statement that I think this particular bowie looks cleaner and better without the ferrule.

Oh, Joss, did I mention...