This Week's Feature


Preston Gough's collection of pedigreed knives is a study in Southern craftsmanship


The blades are forged of twenty thousand layers of steel, the handles wrought of walrus ivory, stag horn, or mammoth fossil. They gleam with 24-karat-gold acanthus leaves and fleurs-de-lis engraved in silver. In fact, the knives in Preston Gough’s private collection make up one of the finest assemblages of custom knives in the South. Just don’t ask Gough to pick a favorite.

“Every one is dear to me,” the Jackson, Mississippi, insurance executive says. And not one is for sale, or ever will be. “I’m not in this to make money,” Gough asserts. “I’m just struck by how much work and knowledge these knives reflect, and I’d just as soon have a ten-thousand-dollar knife in my hand as look at a ten-thousand-dollar piece of art on the wall.”

Gough is in the right place, as the South is known for its wealth of fine bladesmiths. In Arkansas, custom knife maker Jerry Fisk is an adviser to the Historic Arkansas Museum and has lectured and taught in Paris, Brazil, and Russia. Texas resident Tommy Gann is known for clean designs with exacting fit. Charles Vestal, of the Virginia Blue Ridge, crafts coveted knives in the famed Loveless style.