Knife Education: Doing our part

blogboard“Knives are Bad” was the title of the blogger’s post. The writer had my full attention at that point, so I followed the link to a young mother’s blog.

There she shared a story of her young daughter making a birthday cake out of bubbles as she took her bath. The daughter showed her mom a pretend knife she planned to use to cut the first slice. The mom told her “No, you can’t play with knives. You do not hold knives.” The daughter said, “But I need to cut the cake.” “No knives. Make it a fork,” her mother instructed, so the daughter then pretended to use a fork instead.

Then the mom addresses her readers- “That’s right, I don’t even let her play with imaginary knives.” The mom ended the post with this question- “Overprotective much?”

Now, we understand the mom’s concern for the safety of her daughter and yet, she missed an opportunity to teach and instead left the daughter with- “Knives are bad.”

I couldn’t let this one pass. She had asked a fair information seeking question to her readers, so I paused, took a deep breath and replied-

“Yes,  you are being overprotective. As a father of 4 and a knife collector, knives aren’t bad in and of themselves, nor do knives kill- people do. Helping your daughter understand “we must be careful with knives or any other pointed objects” is wise and responsible, as a parent, but conditioning a child that knives are bad is really not the point you were trying to make.”

Now I don’t consider myself the Knife Collector World Association’s ambassador to the web, but I do try to spread the word a little everywhere I go. And in this case, she asked me!

Knife collectors, we must do our part to help folks see knives aren’t the enemy!

Let me ask you, just what is our part in helping folks have a proper understanding of knives? Are we as collectors obligated to actually do something here? Can we not simply let KnifeRights and the AKTI head off threatening anti-knife legislation? Do we really care that millions of folks see knives as bad things?

It really boils down to us feeling comfortable to have a mature conversation. Yes, they are entitled to their opinions, but we wouldn’t hesitate to add our 2 cents to balance things a little, now would we?

And, if we’ll use the web share in our hobby, will we not also use it to help educate web users on the benefits and correct ill-informed viewpoints about knives?

Let’s just agree to this- we all will try to spread the word a little everywhere we go and especially as opportunities present themselves.

Image credit:

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 9:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Knife Artist- Mr. J. J. Smith III

Millions of knives are used everyday. You may have even used yours today too. We cut, stabbed, sliced and carved, but how many of you used your knife to scrape? Yes, you read that right, I said scrape.

Allow me to introduce Mr. J. J. Smith III– a master scraper. When I first saw his work I incorrectly assumed he whittled, but he informed me- he scrapes.

Two things you will find interesting- one is what he crafts and the other is what he crafts with. Better yet, I know of no way to explain his talent other than to show you.  He works with his hands and his knife to scrape some of the most unusual art I have seen.

Bowl of Peach Pits

Bowl of Peach Pits

Let’s start with what he uses as his raw material.

Rumor has it he “carves” while watching his daughters practice soccer.

Now let’s see what little creatures and creations lie beneath that outer shell of the seeds.


Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Listen to the old knives’ voices

One of the many fun things about collecting old knives is their ability to whisk us back to a place in time. These knives speak volumes of the when and where they were made or the significance of why they were made. All old knives have voices. And if we are quite for a moment we can hear them speaking to us.

Collectors today are but custodians of these knives. We are entrusted with them for only a short time and then they are passed on.

To the original owners these knives weren’t mediums of the past. Instead, they bought them fresh out of the box and put them to work. If a knife survived its originally intended purpose and wasn’t lost or destroyed, it then began its trip down through the years to us today.

Other knives were made to mark a date or happening. While not necessarily exhibition pieces, though some were, many were simply souvenirs or keep sakes commemorating something significant, and these knives’ voices speak out the loudest.

Today, I was spoken to. Even though I didn’t view this knife in person, it spoke to me nonetheless.

1933 World's Fair Chicago- A Century of Progress

1933 World's Fair Chicago- A Century of Progress

world's fairThis wonderful little knife commemorated the 1933 World’s Fair and the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago under the theme of “A Century of Progress,” signifying its technological innovations.

It resides in a collector’s possession today and he shared it over at iKnifeCollector. I am sure there are thousands of similarly significant pieces out there- all of which are treasures of days gone by.

If you ever wonder what the attraction of old knives is- just listen and you’ll hear them speaking to you too.


Knife photo credit: Max McGruder; Poster photo credit:

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knife Collection Saved From House Fire

homefireThis past weekend fire destroyed a home in Twin Peaks, California. Cause of fire is unknown, however it was believed to have been a broken fuel line.

This story has as happy an ending as it could considering the home was completely destroyed- but all 5 lives and a knife collection survived.


Take away- Insure your collection in case you have to help one of your family members instead of grabbing your knife collection.


Stories like this send a shiver down my spine. As a collector of antique knives, I can’t help but think that every year knives are destroyed and/or lost resulting in fewer and fewer in circulation.

Photo by G.T. Houts, Story reported in

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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CNJ Top Stories- Staff Picks

cnjstaffpicksLast week we published the CNJ top stories ranked by our readers, well today it’s our time. We did our polling in our office and finally agreed on our favorites for the last year.

We hope you enjoy; we did- as we strolled down memory lane. A lot has developed since some of these ran in terms of web communities and knife collecting. Gotta little history, some humor, little forecasting, economic advice and top secret CNJ sources…just about a mix of everything for your reading pleasure.

Cutlery News Journal’s entire staff production team 🙂

Letter to the Editor & a message to the older collectors

The State of Knife Collecting on the Web (precursor to iKnifeCollector)

Where is the next generation of knife collectors? (precursor to iKnifeCollector)

Men’s Fashions Changed Pocket Knife Styles

Wrench & Tool Knives

Steps to economic recovery outlined in a cutlery publication

The year 1900, here I come- Google Time Travel

Vacations and Outdoor Knives

The Dilemma of the Everyday Carry Knife

Hunting ain’t no fun when you can’t find the game

Are you a user, then give a little bit.

New Study proposes knives need to be less pointed

Collecting- A Psychological Perspective

Still own stock- better sell and buy knives now! (published Oct. 08)

Knife History References & Resources

CNJ Sources and Resources

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 11:22 am  Comments (1)  
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I knew it. I just knew it. Knives are good!

From the See, I Told You So Department

We knife collectors have known for a long time knives are good. We like them, but we know there are plenty others out their who don’t. To us knives provide tons of ways to enjoy them. They are pleasing to look at. Are a conduit to meet nice folks. Give us reasons to meet. Provide recreation. Provide a utilitarian benefit and they are fun to tinker with too. Well, today I learned something new.

Knives are important for healthy child development.

WhittlingboyoldYes, you heard that right. Child development. I can hear folks gasping for breath now. We’ve reported humpteen times here at CNJ that times have changed and most kids are forbidden to have or even hold a knife. We have become sensitized to the danger of the unskilled wielding a blade. The media (and governments) have stigmatized knives as murders. And yet, I found an most interesting article today.

Even as a knife enthusiast, I was surprised by what I read. Rusty Pritchard authored Why your child needs a knife. Now, don’t expect this to be the typical argument about “rites of passage,” boys being boys or that type article. No sir, this article shares with us why a knife fosters healthy mental and emotional development in a child.

“Kids need knives. They are one of the most supremely useful tools for interacting with creation. They’re an important part of moral and creative development. And they let kids harvest their own raw materials and modify them for creative play.”

Rusty Pritchard

Check out his excellent article. Also let him know we appreciate him out spreading the good knife word.

I knew knives were good. I just knew it!

Photo credit:

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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A lesson from cutlery history: Getting knife buyers to buy

bluelightIn hard economic times what is the most common approach used by retailers and knife company dealers to sell more knives? You guessed it- cut the prices.

Today, there is no doubt everyone involved in selling goods and services is feeling the pinch of consumers pulling back. The tightening of the purse strings started back around October of last year. Since then it seems everyone is running a sale.

Got an email notice from a knife manufacturer just yesterday about a “One-half off for one day only” sale.

One Case dealer in North Carolina ran a special on all Case knives for 20% off. The business owner commented after the sale, “We actually made a few sales that day.”

But this phenomenon of running a sale to move merchandise- and in our case, knives is nothing new. In fact, it was such a problem in the 1930’s a cutlery publication tried to rein in the knife industry through a series of editorials and articles.

painescutjrnlmastheadOne  such example-  June 1932 edition of Paine’s Cutlery Journal reported, “It is suicide, of course, to merely slash prices in order to get business, and the business man who thinks he can beat a cost plus profit basis better give up now.”

In many cases, the answer, according the PCJ was more and continued advertising. If one subscribes to this theory, then today the approach would be broader than simply advertising- running ads- it’s having a strong market presence and brand awareness to help achieve what is called in the marketing world as “top of mind consciousness” among the targeted group. And in a highly fragmented market, like we have today, one of the best approaches knife companies and dealers have is to go where the knife collectors and buyers spend a great deal of time- online.

Does a knife qualify as a work of art?

Hope Diamond Est. Value- $350 Million

Hope Diamond Est. Value- $350 Million

It used to be wealthy collectors could donate their works of art for a tax break.  Then the 2006 Pension Protection Act came along preventing donors from realizing the tax benefits on the appreciation of the art’s value and limited the time to complete the donation. So, with a stroke of a pen donations dried up.

The Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal in its article Restoration Work on Gifts of Art reports wealth advisers and estate lawyers stopped recommending the practice soon after the act became law.

Now, several in Congress are coming to the rescue by proposing changes in the 2006 law at a time when artwork is declining in value. In fact, the art market has dropped 30% so far this year and is approaching 2004 values, according to Mei Moses Art Indexes.

Is what we have here an art bailout?

With that said, is what we really have here an art bailout? The specifics get complicated, but real interesting. Did I tell you under the proposed changes the donor can make incremental donations of the piece of art over 20 years? This provides for the collectible to increase in value and provides increasing tax breaks to the donor as it appreciates. And then the one that got me- the museum is only required to exhibit the artwork proportionate to the incremental ownership interest gifted over every five year period, which means the donor can keep it for however much time not gifted. In other words, he can give it and then keep it- at least most of the time. I like that one.

My gracious, this sounds like a couple good ol’ boys got together one evening at their favorite Washington establishment and devised a tax break scheme for their ultra-wealthy hunting buddies.

knifemuseumThe question we only care about is- Does a knife qualify as a work of art? I might be willing, as some of you, to gift a knife to the National Knife Museum if I can keep it for most of the allowed 20 year “gifting period” and account for its appreciation too by realizing additional tax breaks.

I am sure there is some limit on the initial value of the piece of art to like, a million dollars, or something like that, so even if our knife is ultimately accepted as art, it won’t qualify.

Guess I’ll just go cut something with mine then and let the uber-rich keep their gifts.

Top Stories of Cutlery News Journal

topstories320x240You guys have voted and the results are in. Listed below are the most popular stories for the last 12 months as reported here on CNJ. Our subscribers know we cover knife company history, current knife company and industry news, audio interviews, interesting knife factoids, trends, surveys and polls, along with a periodic editorial too.

Exclusive interview with Perry Miller, President of the National Knife Collector Association

Pocket Knives and Tool Knives in the early 1900s

Famous Knife Factory Fires

A master whittler

Knife Collector Communities on the Web- SharpFans Yahoo Group

A Thanksgiving Treat- More knives than you can shake a stick at- National Knife Museum Video Tour

All the types of knives and the firms that made them

CNJ Interview with YouTube’s Cutlerylover

Introduction to Great Eastern Cutlery’s Knife Patterns

Smoky Mountain Knife Works Executive Killed in Accident

American Cutlery Company History Trivia

U S Customs attempts to outlaw assisted opening knives

CNJ Audio Interview Series- Custom Knife Maker Mr. Tony Bose

Next up: CNJ Staff Picks for the year

2009 Knife Collector Survey Results- Knife Type Preference

Cutlery News Journal conducted its first knife collector survey. Portions of this survey were reported, as well as all the survey data.

Today, I think you will find it interesting to see the actual knife type preferences of the 1295 respondents.

2009 Knife Survey Results- Knife Types

Click to enlarge.

For additional information on the survey, including data collection and answers to the other questions visit the 2009 CNJ Collector Survey Page.