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A Knife You Could Bring to a Gunfight

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May 14, 2013

A Knife You Could Bring to a Gunfight

By Phil Bourjaily

Finally, a knife you could bring to a gunfight...or a piano tuning, or a shave and a haircut, or a wine and cheese party, or any one of 100 functions. This 19th century multi-tool includes a .22 caliber pinfire revolver as well as a tuning fork, a mirror and straight razor, and a corkscrew.

It is the Mother of All Swiss Army Knives, although it actually predates the Swiss Army Knife by a few years and was made by John Holler in Germany around 1880 as a display model for his New York store. It weighs an estimated 10 pounds making it, perhaps, a touch heavy to carry in your pocket—but with it, you would be ready for anything.

The knife is part of a special firearms exhibit from the Smithsonian called “Journeying West” and it will be at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, for the next couple of years. Besides the revolver/knife, the exhibit includes a rifle made for Catherine the Great of Russia and a wooden model of the Gatling gun that was submitted as a patent model.

Photo by: John S. Holler German multi-bladed folding knife with 100 “blades,” including a .22 caliber pistol, ca. 1880. Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center. L.373.2012.5

Comments (30)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Must be a ship anchor folded in there somewhere! Wow! I still haven't made it to the Buffalo Bill Museum. On my bucket list. Maybe this fall I will make a long detour down that way.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Can I take that on the airliner with me?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

This knife needs a map! A very cool thing for a knife maker to have in his shop window back in the day. I bet he made some wonderful custom knives!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Rube Goldberg was a "Kraut"!

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from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I wish it was sitting next to a quarter or something so I could accurately judge the size. It must be huge.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

It won't be leaving the US any time soon for a foreign exhibition. Note the tortoise shell case. Would be confiscated at customs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nvjim wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

At 10 pounds the recoil of the .22 should be pretty tame.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I want one...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist born in San Francisco in the 1880s, an extremely gifted, funny man.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I'm sure there must be a post-hole digger in there somewhere.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Anybody have any clue what the long intricate wire piece could be? It's on the right side at the top, in between the corkscrew and the small clippers..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Looks like a fancy saw.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

And those aren't clippers, but rather pruning nippers. Helps give some idea of the size of that thing. Note the hedge trimmers on upper left right behind the revolver.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

No such animal as a "knife you could bring to a gunfight" unless you plan to use it to skin the carcass you just shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Can you imagine the look on the face of a TSA agent if you drug that out at the airport?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker...,
I went to the Buffalo Bill Museum in March, it was amazing.The firearm section had just about every gun imaginable, the even had Jonathan Johnson's Hawken and Bowie Knife there, if you're ever in that area be sure to go there, it will be an experience you will not forget.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

BTW, I would never take that knife to any gunfight, I think Phil should have thought of a better title.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I think by law that would be a gun, not a knife.......

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rfleer87 wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

What a sweet knife to have for survival needs. I bet you could use that knife for almost anything for survival.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

If you want photos of any of the other pieces of this exhibit let me know and I will snap a few photos one evening. Then the problem of how to load them onto this site LOL. Phil I see you are using the recently adopted name of the former BBHC, surprised that word spread so fast.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

Honker if you make it to Cody walk across the street to the hospital and ask for Gary. It would be good to meet you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

I have made double posts before but the above is ridiculous, must be my new computer, couldn't be me.
Dallas, Jeremiah Johnston is also buried at Trail Town west of Cody, hope you didn't miss it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

I'm glad today's multi-tools don't weigh 10 lbs, but I'd be lying if I said that I haven't thought of having a knife with a single shot firearm built into it. Cool to see they were thinking about that 100+ years ago too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 48 weeks 18 hours ago

if it had a set of dies for 30.06 and a primer remover I'd buy one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 17 hours ago

ishawooa,
I missed it.Darn.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ozarkghost wrote 47 weeks 4 days ago

Matthew, there are two of those tools and they appear to be saws with two different sized blades.

An amazing display of ingenuity and humor. Can you imagine trying to shave with that thing?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 47 weeks 4 days ago

This should have been the photo for a caption contest.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

Another interesting item they have at that museum is Sitting Bull's tomahawk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Island_Time wrote 40 weeks 2 days ago

Awesome relic and piece of craftsmanship. I enjoy collecting knives, but this one may be out of my league.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from OsoBlanco wrote 40 weeks 23 hours ago

Now that's one pocket knife that probably wouldn't even fit in a pocket. I believe Victorinox has a very large Swiss Army Knife that is similar that they sell mainly as a novelty to collectors.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Must be a ship anchor folded in there somewhere! Wow! I still haven't made it to the Buffalo Bill Museum. On my bucket list. Maybe this fall I will make a long detour down that way.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Can I take that on the airliner with me?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker...,
I went to the Buffalo Bill Museum in March, it was amazing.The firearm section had just about every gun imaginable, the even had Jonathan Johnson's Hawken and Bowie Knife there, if you're ever in that area be sure to go there, it will be an experience you will not forget.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 17 hours ago

ishawooa,
I missed it.Darn.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

Another interesting item they have at that museum is Sitting Bull's tomahawk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

This knife needs a map! A very cool thing for a knife maker to have in his shop window back in the day. I bet he made some wonderful custom knives!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Rube Goldberg was a "Kraut"!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I wish it was sitting next to a quarter or something so I could accurately judge the size. It must be huge.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

It won't be leaving the US any time soon for a foreign exhibition. Note the tortoise shell case. Would be confiscated at customs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nvjim wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

At 10 pounds the recoil of the .22 should be pretty tame.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I want one...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist born in San Francisco in the 1880s, an extremely gifted, funny man.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

I'm sure there must be a post-hole digger in there somewhere.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Matzek wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Anybody have any clue what the long intricate wire piece could be? It's on the right side at the top, in between the corkscrew and the small clippers..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

No such animal as a "knife you could bring to a gunfight" unless you plan to use it to skin the carcass you just shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Can you imagine the look on the face of a TSA agent if you drug that out at the airport?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

BTW, I would never take that knife to any gunfight, I think Phil should have thought of a better title.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I think by law that would be a gun, not a knife.......

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rfleer87 wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

What a sweet knife to have for survival needs. I bet you could use that knife for almost anything for survival.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

If you want photos of any of the other pieces of this exhibit let me know and I will snap a few photos one evening. Then the problem of how to load them onto this site LOL. Phil I see you are using the recently adopted name of the former BBHC, surprised that word spread so fast.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

Honker if you make it to Cody walk across the street to the hospital and ask for Gary. It would be good to meet you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 48 weeks 21 hours ago

I have made double posts before but the above is ridiculous, must be my new computer, couldn't be me.
Dallas, Jeremiah Johnston is also buried at Trail Town west of Cody, hope you didn't miss it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

I'm glad today's multi-tools don't weigh 10 lbs, but I'd be lying if I said that I haven't thought of having a knife with a single shot firearm built into it. Cool to see they were thinking about that 100+ years ago too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 48 weeks 18 hours ago

if it had a set of dies for 30.06 and a primer remover I'd buy one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ozarkghost wrote 47 weeks 4 days ago

Matthew, there are two of those tools and they appear to be saws with two different sized blades.

An amazing display of ingenuity and humor. Can you imagine trying to shave with that thing?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 47 weeks 4 days ago

This should have been the photo for a caption contest.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Island_Time wrote 40 weeks 2 days ago

Awesome relic and piece of craftsmanship. I enjoy collecting knives, but this one may be out of my league.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from OsoBlanco wrote 40 weeks 23 hours ago

Now that's one pocket knife that probably wouldn't even fit in a pocket. I believe Victorinox has a very large Swiss Army Knife that is similar that they sell mainly as a novelty to collectors.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Looks like a fancy saw.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

And those aren't clippers, but rather pruning nippers. Helps give some idea of the size of that thing. Note the hedge trimmers on upper left right behind the revolver.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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