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Arkansas toothpick

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Title: Arkansas toothpick  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Knives, John Nelson Cooper, List of daggers, Gil Hibben, Daggers
Collection: Daggers, Knives, Weapons of the Confederate States of America
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Arkansas toothpick

A replica Arkansas Toothpick on display board

In modern terminology the Arkansas toothpick is a heavy dagger with a 12–20-inch (30–51 cm) pointed, straight blade.[1] The knife can be used for thrusting and slashing. James Black, the inventor of the Bowie knife, is credited with inventing the Arkansas toothpick.[1]

There was no consistent distinction made between Bowie knives and Arkansas toothpicks in the mid-19th century. There were enough occasional distinctions to shade any dogmatic statement of equivalence. Americans were observed to use pocket knives to clean their teeth in the era, so the Arkansas toothpick term may predate the Bowie knife. There is some (debatable) basis for claiming that Arkansas toothpicks were designed for throwing.[2]

Legal status

Although many jurisdictions worldwide have knife legislation regulating the length of a blade or the dagger-like profile of the Arkansas toothpick that can be owned or carried, certain locales in the United States have legislation mentioning the "Arkansas Toothpick" in particular. These laws were passed in the late 1830s, in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, as an attempt to prevent dueling.[3]


  1. ^ a b Hunt, Robert E. (2004). Randall Military Models: Fighters, Bowies And Full Tang Knives. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. p. 304.  
  2. ^ Flayderman, Norm (2004). The Bowie knife : unsheathing an American legend. Lincoln, R.I: Andrew Mowbray. pp. 265–274.   Chapter 8 is dedicated to the distinction between toothpicks and Bowies.
  3. ^ Cramer, Clayton (1999). Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 110, 192.  
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