Summary: this is a very early script-signed 39th Brigade Bowie Knife made by Jimmy Lile. This well documented Bowie knife has a 7” tool steel blade with unsharpened clip, double brass hilt, and black micarta slabs with brass pins. Full tang, overall length is 12”. This knife has not been used or resharpened, it’s been tucked away in a couple of collections for about 40 years. Amazing find, easily excellent+++ or better condition with just a few light handling marks on the brass guard and one small carbon spot on the back side of the blade.
The black belt sheath is original to the knife and has the Lile shop stamp on the back side. Quality and condition both over the top, the sheath looks pretty much new but for a few light handling marks. On a scale of 1 to 10.... easily a 9.
9 photos for review – as shown, a new black canvas carry case is included. This is a very collectible 39th Brigade Bowie in exceptional condition, a must have for any Lile Bowie Knife collector. Very rare to find with the script signature, this is a pre-1976 knife. Much info below courtesy of the Wikipedia website, while I have not looked specifically I’m relatively certain this model is also mentioned in the Lile book. Check it out... thanks and good luck.
From the Wikipedia website:
As Worn by the 39th Brigade Combat Team
Soon after the Army National Guard's reorganization and the 39 th Infantry Brigade's formation on December 1, 1967, the Bowie Knife was adopted as a part of the brigade insignia and as the individual weapon of brigade field grade officers, the Commanding General's Aide-de-Camp, and more recently the Command Sergeants Major, Sergeants Major, and Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4). A distinctive and honored award from the brigade, the knife is modified from the original design to be more suitable for close combat. It is indicative of the aggressive, fighting spirit of the infantry.
Only knives that are procured by order of the brigade commander are authorized for wear or presentation. General officers are authorized a knife with an ivory handle. Colonels wear knives with stag handles, while other field grade officers and the Aide-de-Camp wear black handles. CW4s are authorized to wear walnut handles. The ranks of Command Sergeants Major and Sergeants Major are authorized to wear the cherry wood handle and retired Master Sergeants are authorized coco-bolo handles. Honorees are presented a knife commensurate with their rank. All former brigade members and persons who have been honored by the presentation of the brigade Bowie Knife may wear it on ceremonial occasions.
A native knife maker conceived the Bowie Knife in Arkansas and today this knife continues to be produced in Arkansas. Until his death, each presentation grade knife was hand made by Mr. Jimmy Lile of Russellville, Arkansas. Mr. Lile was also commissioned to make the knives made by Sylvester Stallone in the “Rambo” movies. The Lile family continues to make the “Bowie Knife” for the Brigade. The general public cannot purchase one of these knives, but can purchase a different style based on the Bowie Knife pattern.
The Brigade Bowie Knife
As described in the 39th Annivery Brigade Annual, published for the Brigade's 39th anniversery celebration in 2006 at the Brigade Headquarters in Ricks Armory, Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bowie Knife has been the individual weapon of senior leaders in the Brigade since the creation of the Brigade in 1967. Only knives that are procured by order of the brigade commander are authorized for wear or presentation. The handle of the knife is commensurate with the leaders rank:
General officers are authorized a knife with an ivory handle.
Colonels wear knives with stag handles,
Field grade officers and the Aide-de-Camp wear black handles
CW4s are authorized to wear walnut handles.
Command Sergeants Major and Sergeants Major are authorized the cherry wood handle
Retired Master Sergeants are authorized coco-bolo handles.
The knife is worn on a pistol belt on the bear's left side with the Army Combat Uniform. The Brigade Bowie Knife has been worn by members through two deployments in support of OIF II.
The knife continues to be produced in Arkansas. Until his death, each presentation grade knife was hand made by Mr. Jimmy Lile of Russellville, Arkansas.