Teddy Roosevelt hunting knife sets new record

A hunting knife given as a gift to US president Teddy Roosevelt just before he left office has sold for $414,000.

The piece was the star lot of Rock Island Auctions' September 9-11 sale, smashing its estimate of $300,000 by 38% and setting a new world record for an American knife at auction.

Teddy Roosevelt knife
The blade was made by cutlery firm J. Russell & Co, while the handle is by Dreicer & Co

Roosevelt received the knife from an old friend, the New York Supreme Court Justice James W Gerard, in 1909.

Gerard spent $1,250 on the bespoke knife - that's equivalent to around $33,000 today.

Roosevelt brought the knife with him on his 1909 hunting trip to Africa, which was undertaken to provide the Smithsonian with new specimens for display and research.

His party killed 11,000 animals across a range of species. Presumably this knife came in very handy.

The story of how the knife came into the possession of its consignor is an interesting one.

He explains: "In August, 1976 Mrs. Derby [Roosevelt's daughter] brought it from Oyster Bay to Seattle as a gift to me as I was about to marry her granddaughter.

"Mrs. Derby, who was 85 at the time, told us of carrying the knife in her purse as she attempted to board the plane at Kennedy Airport, thereupon setting off the alarms and bringing guards running.

"They apparently were amazed when they examined the knife and learned its story. In the end, the knife was handed to the pilot, who kept it in the cockpit and returned it to Mrs. Derby after they landed in Seattle."

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