Are You a Collector or Accumulator?

Gotta share a great piece called Collecting for Collecting Sake: Confessions of a Collector-Turned-Accumulator by my favorite writer on the subject of collecting, Mr. Harry Rinker. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

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Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A psychologist’s take on why we collect

The psychology of collecting

By Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D.

Everybody collects something. Whether it be photographs of a person’s vacation, ticket stubs from ballgames, souvenirs of trips, pictures of one’s children, athletes’ trophies, kids’ report cards or those who collect “junk” (pack-rats) and dispose of it in garage sales.

The evolution of collecting
During the 1700s and 1800s there were aristocratic collectors, the landed gentry, who roamed the world in search of fossils, shells, zoological specimens, works of art and books. The collected artifacts were then kept in special rooms (“cabinets of curiosities”) for safekeeping and private viewing. A “cabinet” was, in part, a symbolic display of the collector’s power and wealth. It was these collectors who established the first museums in Europe, and to a lesser extent in America.

The motivations to collect
Why do we collect things, e.g., Cracker Jack toys to manhole covers? Some people collect for investment, yet one must wonder how a penny can become worth thousands of dollars. Some collect for pure enjoyment – it’s fun. Some collect to expand their social lives, attending swap meets and exchanging information with like-minded souls.

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Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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: Chestofbooks.com

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Like Hotrods and knives? Then this one is for you!

Knife makers are cutting edge. They are always out there making what they like- and in some cases, what they hope buyers will like. Did you notice in the recent edition of Blade Mag the article Every Father’s Favorite? Had some nice knives, but one in particular shot right off the page when I saw it.

Philip Booth's The California Kid

Philip Booth's The California Kid

Introducing Knife Maker Philip Booth’s The California Kid.

Phil describes the Hotrod knife as a ’34 Ford profile. Sporting a 5″ damascus blade that is spring fired when the  headers are pressed. If you like this check out his website. I’d say he likes Hotrods too.

Photo by Philip Booth

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Young people don’t need knives anymore

Hang around the knife industry for very long and you’ll no doubt hear a conversation about how boys today aren’t into pocket knives anymore. In fact, we here at CNJ have reported on more than one occasion that sentiment as well.

Yes, while it is true times have changed and we can quickly come up with a list of reasons, as we have, why this is the case. Young people don’t need knives they way they did last century, right?

painescutjrnlmastheadwoutdateWell, hold on to your horses there just a minute. This problem is not new to our society, nor our time. Listen to this statement as reported in the December 1930 edition of Paine’s Cutlery Journal.

“One of the leading publications in the advertising profession puts for the question ‘Why in the world don’t the cutlery manufacturers get together and bring back the pocket knife with a smashing advertising campaign to prove to the younger generation that a good knife has innumerable uses besides sharpening pencils?'”

So, there is hope because pocket knives became a rite of passage for most every boy up until the mid-1970’s.

On the other hand, there are lots of younger collectors out there- most of them just don’t carry the traditional pocket knife anymore, but they are definitely into knives just the same.

PS: Check out “Knife Collections” on YouTube to find over 6000 vids. Many of these collections are owned by the younger generation too.


Are you a User? Give a little bit!

Knife collecting is all about knives, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Today, we’re going to look at the people who make up the knife world.

crowd1I have observed two types of knife people. Don’t know if they collect or not. Don’t know if they like new ones or old ones, or if they have an EDC or not, and it really doesn’t matter for the purposes of their introduction. The point about these knife people isn’t about the knives anyway.

I’d like to introduce the two knife folks I see in our hobby. The first is the person I call “The User” and the other is “The Giver” (bet you thought I was going to say a Collector, didn’t ya?).

The User

The User is just that- a user. He takes. It’s the- what can I get from you or the situation that benefits me– perspective. It’s all about him. You don’t want to be a User. I see them everywhere. This person drains you and then is on his way. It is the knife seller who is only interested in relating to you as long as you are interested in one of his knives and when you aren’t, he is gone. This person exploits others. If you can’t do anything for the User, then the “relationship” offers no value to him.

The Giver

There is, on the other hand, this second person- The Giver. The Giver approaches another person or situation from the opposite direction. The Giver is a how can I help you person- without an ulterior motive. The Giver helps and shares. As too good to be true sounding as this person is, I see them all the time in our hobby. When you meet one of these people, you know it immediately. And yes, we will often think, “Now, I wonder what they want?”, but the fact remains, a Giver isn’t looking for anything from you.

The Giver isn’t necessarily a knife expert. Instead, his approach isn’t about knowledge or facts anyway. It is about relating to you, or me. When you meet a Giver you will know it. On the other hand, when you meet a User- you’ll know it too, immediately. Givers are the good knife folks.

Thanks to all who have given to me!

Give a little bit! 🙂

Published in: on May 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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You will never guess who I found in the blogosphere

A little while ago, I was surfing around and you will never guess who I ran into? None other than a very well respected knife expert, author and fellow auctioneer- Mr. Bruce Voyles.

No, we didn’t really run into each other; instead I ran up on his blog. Yes, you read it right- his blog and yesterday was his first post, or first since January.

BVoylesBlog

You just thought I was the only hyper-techie knife guy who blogged didn’t you? 🙂 Not any longer. Yes, I do know there are a handful of knife folks who blog- but very few, that is until iKnifeCollector was created a month ago. Now that knife collector community is growing in knife blogs. But outside of our community, there are very few that aren’t trying to sell you a knife or something.

Bruce’s blog is entitled Knife Comments by Bruce Voyles. I encourage you to drop by and welcome him to the blogosphere. I am tickled to see him joining us by providing free thoughts and observations from the world of knives.

Oh, yeah, while you are there let him know we’d love to have him a part of iKnifeCollector. We have a captive audience for his blog (as well as his own personal My Page just waiting on him). He belongs in our community, not out in cyberspace among the millions of other bloggers vying for our attention. We are over here.

Bruce is a tremendous asset to this hobby and is one of its founding pioneers. He has authored many books on knife collecting, including my favorite The IBCA Price Guide to Antique Knives.

Carrying a pocket knife- the way things used to be

vintage_boy_scou1Kids today carry cell phones, not pocket knives. Unfortunately, most parents today would freak out if their son or daughter pulled a knife out from their pocket.

Clearly that’s not the way it used to be. In fact, we reported in Times have changed and lifestyles have too here at CNJ, pocket knife carrying was almost a rite of passage from the 1800s to at least the middle 1900s anyway.

Want to hear what it was like to be a boy carrying a knife back years ago, then listen to Robert Simpson share with us what it was like when he was a boy. It is entitled- Nostalgia- the fine art of selective memory.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Public works program paid folks to whittle

Federal program funded whittlers.

Federal program funded whittlers.

Did you know back during the Depression our government spent money to kick start our economy by hiring the unemployed to whittle? I’m serious.

President Franklin Roosevelt responded to the crisis with a series of programs to put the 10 million able-bodied unemployed to work with the “alphabet” relief programs- the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Civil Works Administration (CWA). In 1934, these programs were replaced by the Works Progess Administration (WPA).

The WPA was distinguished from the earlier programs by its inclusion of the unemployed writers, teachers, librarians and artists. Federal Project Number One of the WPA was designed to document American art and culture, and included paying painters to paint our history. Part of “Federal One” was to celebrate and legitimize American art- homegrown art, including folks art, murals, theater and music.

Farmer & his dog- Fred Myers Whittler

Farmer & his dog- Fred Myers

Fred Myers- Historic Figures and Common Men

This artist participated in federal art programs in the 1930s and early 1940s. Myers was a coal miner, who began his artistic career by whittling. When the mines closed during the Great Depression, Myers worked to perfect his whittling skills. He was one of several artists the University Museum hired through the Works Progress Administration. He worked for the museum from 1939 until 1942, carving historic figures and prehistoric animals. The museum has 25 of his sculptures.

The tale of two knife sales- Part I

In the Introduction to this post, I discussed running a test with the sale of two identical 100 year old knives.  Again, the only difference between the two was their condition- one was in Excellent, and the other, Very Good.

Allow me to start off Part I of The Tale of Two Knife Sales with this question- How would you go about determining value when two knives are the same, except for their condition?

oregonknifeclubshowYeah, we know if a dealer had both knives for sale at a show, he would price them according to their condition. That I understand, but how exactly is the discount for the lower condition knife figured?

I know it isn’t an exact science, but even still it is all over the board out there. I’m also a believer you can sell anything at a price if you are willing to wait long enough, but a one-off sale doesn’t necessarily represent market value as supported by the market.

Challenges we collectors face in determining a knife’s value

You know the problem all collectors face on a daily basis- Different dealers, and sellers, value knives differently, which poses a challenge when trying to stay abreast of where values are and how much a knife is worth.

Yeah, there are “price guides” out there, but I’m not going to say these guides are an actual reflection of where value is, as opposed to attempting to forecast where values are going, otherwise, the guide is out of date the day it is published. And price guides indicate MINT condition value. Depending on how young the knives are you collect that may work just fine, but if you collect 100 year old knives, a MINT condition value is worthless, cause there ain’t none of them out there.

On top of that, how do you know what the “discount” off of a MINT antique knife is in order to deduct it for the different conditions, ie., Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, etc. I know folks have opinions on the various price levels based on condition, but I want to test how actual buyers value them.

prismLet’s do the experiment

Two weeks ago, I noticed a particular knife on eBay. Right at the same time I had a chance to buy the identical knife, except the one I bought was in VERY GOOD condition and the one on eBay was in EXCELLENT condition. Other than that the knives were identical. Same pattern. Same brand. Same era. Same stamps. Same age. Same desirable handle material with the same jigging.

So, I bought the one I was offered to put it on eBay while the better condition one was still up for auction. These two sales are an experiment to see a current snap-shot of their values- as determined by actual buyers and how they judge the condition value (or discount) between the two.

We could use past sales to do a comparative analysis, but are 2, or even 1, year old sale prices still relevant in today’s market conditions? But even still past sales of different knives won’t quantify the price difference by condition grade of two identical knives. That’s also why I wanted both knives sold to see their real-time value established by auction.

testresults2The test results

Typically, I devote an entire post to a single article, but The Tale of Two Knife Sales was simply too long. For this reason, I decided to break this story into parts. In Part II, we’ll examine the two knives and their sale results, as well as why an auction was the best environment for this test.