Collecting and the Web

Geek Rated: Moderate

Geek Rated: Moderate

In this the second installment of the Weekend Edition, I have to make another confession and it pertains to another collection I have going.

I know many knife collectors who also collect other knife related stuff, like displays and memorabilia. Ok, but what about collections of non-knife stuff?

I love old and I love tech. I don’t talk much, at least I don’t think I do, about the geeky side of things. But I study emerging technologies, social networking,mypb5300cs online trends and demographics, which is one of the reasons for this year’s knife community survey.

No, I don’t collect computers or hard-drives, although I did “stick back” my first laptop (Apple PowerBook 5300cs) from 1995.

Instead, I collect something that is an intellectual property- in this case, it is a real smart sounding name for something you use probably everyday. In fact, you used one of what I am collecting to get here to CNJ today.

Collection of Web Addresses (Domain Names/URL’s)

Yeah, I know that is weird, but the names fall into three basic groups- knife, online marketing and auction.

Here are a few of the Knife & Traveling Salesman related domains in my collection-

  • VintageKnifeCollector.com
  • SunfishKnives.com
  • KnightsOfTheGrip.com
  • JournalOfTheRoad.com
  • TravelingSalesmen.com
  • DrummersDairy.com
  • SalesmanSample.com
  • EDCClub.org
  • TalkingKnives.com
  • KnifeCollectingNews.com
  • KnifeJournal.com

My favorite – iKnifeCollector.com.

I am itching to launch iKnifeCollector.com– the next generation knife community. It is a networking platform for knife collectors. One of its areas will function similar to MySpace and Facebook.

iKnifeCollector.com- Tomorrow's web hub for collectors

iKnifeCollector.com- Tomorrow's web hub for collectors

I’m convinced it is the future community of knife collectors after studying the results of the Knife Community Survey.

The NKCA should be doing this. I’m also itching to write an editorial on the NKCA and its future, which this is it right here. It’s a virtual “association,”  to use that term loosely.

Anyway, and each new member gets their own personalized iKnifeCollector.com email address. Mine is scott@iKnifeCollector.com.

My biggest issue is the web building firms want about $15,000- $20,000 for Phase I – Yeah, I know, and I have the plan all ready to be built. Do you know how many toenails that will buy?

Domains, Real Estate and Auctions

I’m guessing I have grabbed about 40 domains to date. To most folks that is a bunch, but to the folks in the domain industry- it’s not. In fact, our company is conducting an auction for a “collector” on his portfolio of  2650 real estate related domain names. It will be very interesting. If you are near the Fairmont in San Fransico on June 11th, come watch us work. While our company only sells real estate at auction, but being the geek I am, I couldn’t say no to doing the largest collection of real estate domain names ever assembled; after all it is virtual real estate.

Lots of thoughts bouncing around today-

Have a Enjoyable Easter Weekend!

Source for future city image: Fantasy Art 3D Wallpapers: modern digital art, 3D artists, computer desktop backgrounds.

Batson Bladesmithing Symposium

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Weekend Edition

Our Weekend Edition called for CNJ to send a reporter and video crew to cover Baston’s Bladesmithing Symposium near Birmingham, Alabama today. Serve weather is coming through now, so we’ll see.

Demonstrations run til noon, then a show, followed by an auction. Maybe we could cover it for the Weather Channel while we’re there. It should clear up later today, but right now it is just a matter of going from Point A to Point B.

The event is going on at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park.

Later that same day…..

tannehillironworksI have good news and bad news.

The Good News is about mid-day, I finally got the all clear on the weather, so took off for the hour and a half drive to Tannehill Ironworks State Park.

The Bad News is once I got there I found out it was not this weekend, but the next.

Normally, I would be a miffed doing something dumb like this, but it was OK because it gave me a chance to spend some quality time with Shelby.

The tale of two knife sales- Conclusion

This is the tale of two knife sales.

Knife #2

The WR Case Jumbo I bought to sell on eBay for a test

In the Introduction, I shared with you rarely do we have a true comparison of two virtually identical knife sales to provide us with the buyers price differentiation between knife grade conditions. And that I bought a knife to put up on eBay to see how it would compare to a better quality one that was already up for auction on the same site.

Then we saw in Part I- the challenges we collectors face trying to value knives and why this test would be so interesting. Part II- established why past sales are the best gauge of value even though it is so rare to have identical knives being sold at auction at the same time.

These auctions will also provide us a snap-shot of value in the current economic conditions and then to be able to compare them to same knife sales of the last few years.

Now in the conclusion of my experiment, I want you to see the knives and the auctions results. Then we’ll end with my observations.

These knives- two W. R. Case  Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenails (sunfish) offered me for the first time since I started knife collecting a real apples-to-apples sales comparison of two identical knives each with a different grade condition and the buyers’ judgment of their price differences.

And now for the knives and their auctions

These two knives represent one of the most sought-after styles of the elephant toenail pattern.

Veteran knife dealer, Mr. Joe Seale said in an interview I conducted with him in June of 2003, that he usually doesn’t keep a Swellcenter for more than two months- even though this style toenail represents the highest price of the three different styles.

In case you have wondered why I chose to run the test on this knife, well, it is my most favorite- that’s why. I have tracked this style toenail closely over the years. This test also allowed me to see what is happening to values as we go through the worst economy since the Great Depression.

The Two Knife Sales

Knife #1– W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co., Bradford, Pa  Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail. Excellent Condition

Knife #2– W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co., Bradford, Pa  Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail. Very Good Condition

Note: The significant masterblade wear on Knife #2 compared with knife #1 and yet, Knife #1 is about 87-90% full. Knife #1 was cleaned. Knife #2 is a real example of a used jumbo (they were hard-core work knives, you know).

Auction Results

  • Knife #1-the Excellent condition knife brought $2595.
  • Knife #2- the Very Good condition knife brought $1200.

Wrap up & General Observations

Clearly we find a measurable difference between the conditions of these two knives and their prices/ values. Originally, I thought Knife #1 would go higher, possibly to $3000. My guess on Knife #2 had it bringing $1300 to $1500.

If the EX brought two times plus more than the VG one, that the grade condition discount is 50%. I’m not willing to go that far and apply that ratio across the board.

While the demand historically has been strong, Mr. Seale also shared with me that only 2% of collectors buy knives over $500. This tells us these knives have a limited buying market than a more affordable pattern or style. I tend to agree with the position he holds regarding high-end knife buyers-

“High-end knife collectors as a group have the where-with-all to be able to purchase the rare ones in the best condition.”

Translation- The discount for less than EX is going to be greater for high-end knives, not just in dollars, but as a percentage. I believe this was evident in this test. There is weaker price support for knives in “marginal” collector condition. This may, or may not, be the result of the heavy emphasis on the “Buy Only Mint Condition” mantra I have seen preached and heard ever since I started collecting. But I don’t know.

The result of this test provides good news for knife owners and potential sellers. It demonstrates there is good demand and price support in the market right now.


FYI- I know of a Near Mint condition W. R. Case Jumbo Swellcenter with the exact same handles and jigging that sold for $4000 in 2004.



The tale of two knife sales- Part II

Part II of The Tale of Two Knife Sales

If you are just joining us, we are looking at an experiment I ran recently with a knife I purchased to auction at the same time an identical knife was also being auctioned. I wanted to gauge the prices for the different grade conditions for this 100 year old knife pattern, as the only difference between the two knives was mine was in Very Good condition and the other Excellent.

In Part I of The Tale of Two Knife Sales, we examined the challenges collectors of old knives have when trying to gauge values, especially between the different condition grades. Today, we are bringing it all together and setting the stage for this controlled experiment, in addition to explaining why an auction is the best environment to run this test.

Tracking sale prices

In Part I, we concluded price guides offered us little help in determining values for 100 year old knives and their variations, including condition. The prices are for Mint condition (as in new out of the box) knives only. They are out of date once printed and then, those preparing the guide may not be experts on many of the brands or patterns in the book, unless it is a specific brand guide.

So that leaves collectors needing to track actual sales. Sales are the best gauge of value at a given point in time. And yet, obtaining actual sale prices on private transactions (non-auctions), is virtually impossible. So, auctions tend to be the most readily available price information.

The differences among the same pattern

The differences among the same pattern

We also want to understand the variables affecting a knife’s value. A challenge we face is there aren’t enough of a given pattern sold to include all the different variations, in order to gauge price differences of each variation. For example, the knives are of a different era, different handle material, different brand (but same pattern), condition grades, or something else that would cause the results to be unquantifiable.

What about the sales method used?

What about the price difference between a knife sold by private negotiation compared with an auction? Being a lifelong fan of auctions, it may surprise you to know I believe you can sometimes realize a higher price via private sale than by auction, like when you have a highly motivated buyer and an unmotivated seller, for example. I realize auctions can achieve a higher price on occasions too, but you need as close to equally motivated bidders to run each other up.

voylesauctionAuctions take several factors out that are present in private sales, like the negotiation skill, or lack thereof, of the buyer or seller. Auctions provide for an equal playing field. Furthermore, the seller is not in the picture and it is down to the bidders to compete in order to determine the winner. This finality simply isn’t present in a negotiated sale.

Personally, I believe a legitimately run auction will realize true market value, more so than a one-off privately negotiated sale.

Running a controlled auction experiment

800px-ebay_logosvg1To control this experiment let’s take the two knives- two knives as close to being identical as can be found, their condition being the only difference. Then let’s put them on eBay. The auctions will run at the same time, with one closing a few days before the other. And, yet the bidders will see both knives for most of the time.

The knives are-

  1. Sold in the same market conditions (not one sold two years ago during the days of excessive exuberance and then the other one sold in today’s turbulent economy, for example)
  2. Sold at the same time (both closed within a couple days of each other)
  3. The same pattern
  4. The same brand
  5. Manufactured in the same time period
  6. The same handle material
  7. The same jigging pattern
  8. Sold by the same sales method
  9. Sold on the same terms of sale

Suffice to say, all the factors are as close to the same as they will ever be. It is very rare to have a situation like this. So, the very day mine came in I listed it. There was still several days left on the better condition knife and it was important for me to get mine listed so buyers could consider and evaluate both, and then factor in the difference.

Introducing the subjects of the experiment:

Knife #1-

frontclosed1

W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co, Bradford, Pa

Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail (sunfish) knife

Condition: Excellent

Knife #2-

frontclosedresizedweb

W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co, Bradford, Pa

Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail (sunfish) knife

Condition: Very Good

Tomorrow’s edition will provide the results, concluding observations of the experiment and additional photos to demonstrate the differences in their condition.

The tale of two knife sales- Introduction

experimentLast week I ran a test- an experiment- to see the effect of a knife’s condition on its price.

What made this such a good test was it involved two identical knives, except for their condition. You know the commonly accepted condition grades- Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, etc.

Yes, I know we have resources to “tell us” what values should be, like dealer’s asking prices, price guides and previous results- all to help us know about values and the discounts off of Mint Condition to subtract, but when it comes to old pocket knives, for example, I’ve found prices and values all over the board and very subjective.

Because of this, I wanted to run a test and this week I’m going to tell you the tale of the sale of two knives. The two knives were both 100 years old and identical in pattern, era made, brand, handle material, method used to sell them and both were sold at the same time. It is rare to be able to have a controlled test with this many common factors.

So, if you are like me and wonder if there is any rhyme or reason as to how a knife is valued relative to its condition, then stay tuned.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another set of knives scheduled for auction

gavelEarlier this week I learned of a sale you may want to check out. Greg Martin Auctions is conducting the sale the last of March. This firm handles antique firearms, edged weapons and the like. Included as part of one of their auctiona is a few dozen knives, swords and daggers. They have a general brochure up on the sale download it.

This firm sold a historic Colt Single Action Army Revolver Serial No. 1- called the “Peacemaker” for $862,500 in Jan of this year. How’s that for a collectible?

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Collectible Auction Sites Abound

ebay-live-auctions

If you have been following the saga with eBay lately, you are aware some of the changes it made last year angered a lot of sellers, then they shut down eBay Live Auctions. 

eBay Live allowed auction houses to advertise and run their auctions in “real time.” Not only did they get traffic and bidders on eBay, it added an Internet-bidding component to their real-life auctions. 

We follow eBay closely here at CNJ because it is the largest auctioneer of knives. At the time of this writing, there are over 74,500 listing under “knife.”

With eBay angering their seller base and then shutting down of eBay Live Auctions, newly formed online auctioneers are jumping in to grab some of the market. 

  • LiveAuctioneers issued a press release announcing its plans to launch an independent online-bidding platform.
  • Ableauctions (iCollector.com) partnered with the National Auctioneers Association to provide the service to the NAA’s membership of 6000 auctioneers nationally. Their joint venture is called NAALive.
  • worthpointgoantiquesGoAntiques.com  reportedly offered more than 500,000 items from 1,450-plus dealers in 27 countries and logs more than 1 million visits and thousands of transactions each month. GoAntiques was recently purchased by WorthPoint.  
  • WorthPoint.com announced this week a newly designed collectors site emphasizing social networking, member profiles and news from the collector world. It has also integrated GoAntiques into its platform.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see F+W Media try to carve out a niche in the knife auction business through Blade with this online auction platform.

Knife Auctioneer continues to take advantage of technology

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My grandfather used his car to promote our company's auctions

The auction industry has come a long way from the days of my great-grandfather nailing placards to telephone poles announcing our company’s auctions back in 1915 and my grandfather using his car as a rolling billboard. Today with the click of a couple of keys electronic messages can be broadcast to the world.

With that, J Bruce Voyles is continuing to take advantage of technology in promoting and conducting his knife auctions. I just received an email advertising an auction he is calling a Flash Auction. Now the Flash concept relates to mobbing folks together quickly. This particular auction is only open for 5 days and starts today. So, gone is the printing of a catalog (read: time), mailing it (read: time) and the waiting (read: more time) for the auction to start. His email came in the day before the auction starts.

The aspect of this auction that I like is he is not sending out any traditional snail-mail promotional piece- no brochure or catalog. Auctioneers have used brochures mailers and catalogs to promote their auctions and the items/property to be sold for well over a hundred years. Bruce is running this auction with an electronic catalog listing only and promoting it via email.

To me this just makes sense. Why print a catalog with umpteen pages of pictures when you can send an email, or if you felt you had to, mail a postcard to the buyers list, and then have them go straight to the web for the photos and descriptions. 

And in this case, the bidding is online too.  If you are interested in checking out the knives in this auction, go to Bruce Voyles Auctions. His point with the Flash Auction is it won’t last long so head on over now.

Published in: on February 13, 2009 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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The UK Knife guys are going bonkers

 

CNJ Knife Rights Beat

CNJ Knife Rights Beat

As a follow-up on the news of eBay banning all knife sales on their UK and Ireland sites, the Brits are beside themselves.

I am following a few of the threads over at BritishBlades forum (mostly custom knife owners) and they are are not happy campers right now. 

 

“This (ban) is obviously going to impact all of us in various ways, I sell quite a few on there, and regularly buy knives I want for myself from American dealers which will also be impossible.
We all know its ridiculous, but there’s probably naff all we can do other than find another auction site to trade through.
So ladies and gents:
a) buy what you have your eye on now cause you won’t be able to for much longer
b) can anyone suggest some other good auction sites to use.”

While this post by John is on the calmer side of all the buzz, it summarizes their situation pretty well. So much for eBay sales there for US sellers, including custom makers, right at the time every sale is important to keep the knife biz healthy.

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 8:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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eBay Bans Knife Sales

ebayeBay says it will ban all knife sales, except table cutlery, on its UK and Ireland websites.

eBay’s ban is in response to the BBC ‘s Watchdog purchase of illegal knives on two of its sites. eBay is currently the largest auctioneer of knives.

The knives were purchased by this group from US sellers.

One of the knives purchased

One of the illegal knives purchased

eBay said they had security measures in place to make sure only legal knives are offered by UK and Irish sellers on these sites, however, they have concluded the only way to control sellers from outside those two countries was to ban all knife sales from their UK and Ireland sites.

“Safety is our number one priority and we recognise we need to do more to protect our members. Therefore, we are reviewing our position with regards to the sale of all knives on eBay, including those currently permitted by law,” said the eBay spokesman.

 

 BBC’s Watchdog Video Report on Illegal Knife Sales on eBay

Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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