I’m working with a young man named Devin Costlow who aspires to become an Alamo historian and writer (see February 1, 2012, blog post). Devin located an excellent article about the development and disposition of several weapons that claim to be a “Bowie Knife”.
According to this article some historians claim that Jim Bowie and his older brother, Rezin P., sponsored the production of many knives by as many as eight cutlers and blacksmiths.
Others claim there was only one, the “big butcher knife” that Jim received from Rezin P. and used in the famous “sandbar fight”.
Several of the documented knives exist today in museum collections, including at least three at the Alamo. All are single edged, and range in length from six to ten and one quarter inches. Some have the famous clip point and some do not.
Two owners claim that their knife was taken from the Alamo after the 1836 battle, one by a Mexican soldier, the other by a woman who claimed that she nursed Jim Bowie.
If “The Bowie Knife” exists, the former of these two is probably it. Now called the “Bart Moore knife” it was made by Arkansas blacksmith, James Black, and is on display in the Alamo Gift Museum. This knife is eight and one quarter inches long and has a clip point. The article reports that the blade has "J. Bowie" scratched on one side and the initials J.B. on the other.