Major Henry Shakespear was an Indian army officer who was a well-known shikari, the Indian term for “hunter.” Much of Shakespear’s hunting in India took place in the mid-19th century, before the advent of repeating arms. Although many hunters in India carried double-barreled percussion Howdah pistols as backups to their rifles, Shakespear seemed to have also liked a double-edged dirk, which could be used at close quarters.
Based on his experiences, Shakespear developed a set of requirements for what he considered a perfect hunting knife. He required a knife with a double-edged, 7-inch blade that was “fluted” (i.e., had a blood groove), 1.5 inches broad and very sharp. He also gave special attention to a sheath that allowed rapid access to the knife. Retention came from a spring in the sheath, which could be depressed with the finger while drawing the blade. Shakespear did not specify a belt loop, as he intended the sheath to be attached to the buttonhole of the hunting coat’s pocket via a button on the sheath. In actual production, both the sheath and handle were of wood.