and you thought only knife collectors were crazy

Non-knife collectors often think we have a few loose screws when they find out we hunt and hoard knives. I’ve talked to enough folks about it to know. Even though to us our hobby is perfectly normal and we think nothing of spending/investing signficant time and energy pursing old (and new) knives. We don’t even bat an eye at the thought of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a rare find to add to our collection, but to the non-knife collectors our passion classifies us as a bit loony.

Even though to me a collector’s passion is perfectly normal and understandable, I did run across a recent collectible purchase that made me question it.

A 1938 comic book called the Action Comics #1 that introduced Superman to the world sold for a cool $1,000,000. Yeap, a single comic book. It is the first comic book to fetch seven figures.

Million dollar comic book

Actually, this sale kinda makes me feel better about my addiction to old knives now.

Source: ComicConnect.com

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 7:52 am  Comments (2)  
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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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To-Do’s: The Tyranny of the Urgent and then the knife things

Tyranny of the Urgent- the things that require immediate attention. Might be important or might not be. But one thing they are is urgent.

Most of us suffer from the Tyranny of the Urgent, especially on the first day back at work after the holidays. Well, today was that day for me.

My day was full of things I had to get done- appointments to schedule, calls to make, paperwork to do, expenses to turn in….all seemed to be urgent.

In one respect, the last three weeks of work was all pushed forward to today. Before the holidays, I worked really hard to “clear my desk” so I could relax and take off, and then I get back and I’m already behind. Isn’t that the way it is?

I got to the office and started methodically working down my “To- Do” list. I was making significant progress getting the urgent done in order to get to the important.

Urgent doesn’t necessarily mean important.

Once I got the most urgent done, then I was able to do the next item on my “first day back to work” list and this task was important- I mean really important.

I had to go get a cashiers check and get it in the mail.

You know why this particular “To-Do” was so important, don’t you?  I had to pay for the knife I came to terms on over the holidays. 🙂

Hi-resolution pictures transmitted, price discussions ensued and the deal consummated- all electronically, and from 2500 miles away. I love technology.

Now you know why this task was so important- the sooner I got the money sent, the quicker I get my new old knife. Priorities, Priorities.

Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Year’s Resolutions of a Knife Collector

Be it resolved that in the Year 2010, I will not:

  • Proudly pull the knife I just purchased out of my pocket to show someone only to see him drop it.
  • Give any more of my favorite knives to TSA employees because I forgot to take them out of my pocket before going through airport security.
  • Want to buy all the new-fangled knives I see at the Blade Show.
  • Start buying knives I don’t collect on a whim.
  • Give in to the temptation to buy a knife just cause it is a good deal, when I already have 12 of that same knife that I bought because they were a good deal too.
  • Buy a knife collection when I hear myself saying, “Well, I’ll sell all the ones I already have to help pay for it.”- cause I never do.
  • Buy a knife at the first table I come to when at a knife show- cause I always find one I’d rather have on down the row.
  • In my excitement for my new knife tell my better half about it, only to then have her ask how much it cost.
  • Travel to a knife show without taking a knife to trade.
  • Lust over knives owned by other collectors (but will let them know IF they ever decide to sell, I want first dibs).
  • Fall asleep waiting on an eBay auction to end when I wanted to bid before it closed.
  • Rationalize every knife I want to buy with this “Well, I may not ever see another one again.”
  • Rationalize a seller’s asking price for an old knife with “I know he’s asking a fortune, but it is in really good condition.”
  • Put my knife collection up (out of sight) in an effort to make more room in my office for the other “knife stuff” I buy.
  • Show my knife friends the most recent knife I bought when they are only going to say, “That knife ain’t right.”
  • Read a knife forum’s thread trashing and bashing a knife, or a seller, on eBay.
  • Take a seller’s word for a knife’s condition when he only provides a vague description on eBay.
  • Pay top dollar for a knife when the seller uses the “It’s in excellent condition for its age.”
  • Tell someone what I paid for a knife only to hear him say, “Well, that guy offered it to me for less than that.”
Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 10:26 am  Comments (4)  
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The Dilemma of Knife Condition Grades- The good, the bad and the ugly

New collectors of older knives are faced with a serious dilemma. Simply put- they don’t have a frame of reference to grade a knife’s condition. And the knife price guides we all use don’t define knife condition grades with absolute specificity.

Setting aside the brand of the knife, condition grading (the “scoring” a knife’s condition) is the most commonly accepted practice for determining a knife’s value.

This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. You may not remember the anxiety you felt when you first started out trying to figure out whether a knife you were looking at was worth the asking price based on its condition or not. I do. The implications meant money- in some cases, lots of money.

Say you find a knife with the proper knife operations (walk and talk), the handles are crack and chip free, the blades are full, but one of the blade’s tang stamps isn’t legible anymore, so what is that knife’s grade?

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Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Folks who don’t collect knives just don’t get it

Knife collectors have screws loose

It’s a well established fact knife collectors can be viewed as a little out of whack. A bit odd. And not just from the anti-knife crowd, but by our closest friends.

It even gets worse when you throw old knives into the mix.

Well, I had a funny thing happen getting my hair cut a few days ago I thought you’d find amusing.

You know the routine- you sit there getting your hair snipped while your barber or beautician stylist politely entertains you by asking questions about your family, work, any planned trips for the holidays and any other areas he/she knows you are into.

Paul, my hair cut guy, knows I’m a knife collector, along with everyone else in my little universe, and after we’d covered all the other topics, he finally worked around to asking about my hobby.

“Bought any knives lately?” he asked.

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like getting into the details about my knife collecting hobby with non-knife collectors. It often leads to questions about- if I use them, how much they cost and how many I have, and questions like that. So I thought for a moment about how to respond and then remembered I did just buy me a new old knife off ebay that didn’t cost my last other leg.

“Well, yes, I have,” thinking I found an example safe to talk about. “I bought me an old one off eBay.” Then I made the mistake of adding one more tidbit about this purchase when I should have left well enough alone, but out it came before I realized it- “Yeh, its blades were broken off.”

Case TESTED XX Green Bone Toenail (1920- 1940)

Now remember most non-knife collecting folks already think we have a couple of screws loose.

When he absorbed what I said, he looked at me with the oddest look. I knew I had said too much. “It’s blades are broken off?” he questioned. I was at the point of no return and the hole was only getting deeper. “Yes,” I said, “you know I collect old knives and thought it’d be cool to have an old toenail with both blades broken.”

Then realizing he might be about to embarrass me by continuing to ask about something he thought was probably the stupidest thing he’d ever heard, he said,

“Oh, I get it. It’s like a car collector buying a car without any wheels on it, right?”

I swear those were his exact words. And at that point all I could do was say- “Yeh.”

The Games Knife Sellers Play

Advice from an old knife collector: Don’t play the game unless you have a chance to win.

Buying knives is a game. I’m taking about the actual negotiation here. We love it when we win, that is, successfully coming to terms with a seller and getting the knife for our collection. But you have to understand it is a game- pure and simple. And most old timers are experts at it too.

The harsh truth, and one we must accept, is-

We will not be able to buy every knife we want.

I’m not saying this because it will be out of our price range either. No, I’ll telling you this, instead, because it is a game and we won’t win every time.

Today, I want to share with you advice to increase your chances of winning.

Let’s say you are approached by a knife owner about a specific knife. It is one you decide you want. And while the seller may act as if he’s really not interested in selling it- your intuition tells you he really is.

Remember- it is a game. He has interested you in the knife (either because he approached you, or had it on his list of “For Sale” knives). Eventually, he asks- “So, what’ll you give?” This point in the “Game” is a critical juncture. What you say and do at this moment will determine if you can come to terms and acquire this next trophy for your collection, or not. Understand too- they routinely use this approach and never even price the knife.

If you say a price, or make what appears to that seller as an offer, you will probably lose.

What you must do is this. You must establish he wants and is ready to sell. Otherwise, you’ll end up negotiating against yourself. So, instead of saying “Oh, I’ll give you X,” you must say, “Have you decided to sell that knife?” You’d expect him to say something to the effect of “Well, it depends on what you’ll give.”

Understand, if the owner of the knife hasn’t made the decision he wants to sell you are going to make an offer that simply “hangs in the air.” This happens when you throw out a number/price and he says, “Oh, I’m really not interested in selling that knife right now.”

If he pulls this- “Oh, I’ll think about it” or “I don’t think I really want to sell it”- all he will do then is use your offer to shop for a better price or try to get you to continue increasing your offer price- remember he originally approached or solicited you!

Instead, once you determine you are interested tell him-

“Have you decided to sell this knife? I’m not sure I’m a buyer, but if we were able to come to a fair price are you ready to sell it today?”

I know you may feel you are showing your hand at this point, but you must establish if he is ready to sell, otherwise you are wasting your time and will be standing there making offers while he plays the “Oh, I don’t really want to sell it.”

If he doesn’t acknowledge he’ll sell it if you can come to terms, then walk away. Tell him when he is ready to sell it to let you know.

Nothing is more frustrating than to allow a seller to get you excited about a knife only then to tell you he doesn’t want to sell it- when in actuality all he did was to get your best price and will then either shop your offer or try to get you to increase it.

Remember: Get a seller to commit he is interested in selling the knife and what he will take for it, before you try to buy it.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 9:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sound advice from an old knife collector

Knives can talk and when you hear them, it will cost you more than you could have bargained for.

knifeshowgaze

Victim of hearing knife talk

That’s what an old timer told me years ago. I now know this to be true too and not just some tall tale.

Here’s most frequently how it happens-

Let’s say you are walking up and down the isles at a knife show when you hear your name called out. You are startled at first cause you realize you don’t know anyone there. But you turn to the direction of the voice anyway.

Looking around you don’t see anyone paying you any notice, so thinking your mind is playing tricks, you start to turn back only to glance down. There you see a knife shimmering in this guy’s display. Instantly the room darkens and a narrow beam of light shines on that one knife. And at the same time that knife calls your name again.

Yes, it was the knife that spoke your name. It talked.

You’re star struck. Hypnotized. Mesmerized. It now has you under its spell. Unfortunately for you, the dealer who owns that knife recognizes your bedazzlement immediately. He’s seen it thousands of times before.

Right then you lost before you even opened your mouth.

You can act nonchalant, but you ain’t got a chance. Even if you are a professional negotiator- too bad- you’ve already lost. Might as well keep from embarrassing yourself and pay the dealer his price.

Next time you are around knives and hear your name called- RUN!….. Or it will cost you more than you could have bargained for. I know.

If there is any doubt about the effects of knife talk-

I can attest knives talk. I remember very clearly. I’d been actively collecting for several years at that point and the funny thing is this time I wasn’t even at a knife show, or looking at a knife- in person. Some voices are strong enough to get you without you actually seeing them- a picture will do.

WARNING: I’m going to recreate the situation for you right here, but I must say- the very same thing may happen to you, so continue at your own risk. I can’t be held responsible. You might want to consider plugging your ears.

If you think you can handle it, then click “MORE” and you will probably hear its voice too. For your sake, and mine, I hope you don’t. If you do, it will change your life forever- it did mine.

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Knife industry and collectors are pitching in to help raise money for breast cancer cause

pinkribbonAll across America knife enthusiasts are uniting in support and are raising money to help fund research for breast cancer, as October is breast cancer awareness month. Robert Hale of Iron City Blades brought this coordinated effort of the knife industry and collectors to our attention.

Many makers and suppliers, including Iron City Blades, Spyderco, Buck, Ka-Bar, Victorinox, Shepherd Hills Cutlery,  Smoky Mountain Knife Works and others are offering knives, or have set aside production time and product line to pink handled ribbon-emblazoned products with all or part of the proceeds going to organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation and others.

The largest social network for knife collectors, iKnifeCollector, is also pitching in to help with an eBay auction of a Featured Membership with all proceeds are being donated. The iKnifeCollector auction is located on their community homepage.

Regardless of how you show your support, pitch in.


Knife collecting still making the cut

us-economyThis year’s been a doozie and we’ve still got a quarter to go. We’ll end up at over a hundred bank closings. Auto maker bailouts. Record high foreclosures. Unemployment near 10%.  Record business and personal bankruptcies. Makes your head spin doesn’t it? Not since the Great Depression has our country been hammered like it has this year.

CNJ reported successful knife makers reduced employee’s salaries or have been forced to adjust by laying off workers due to low knife sales. In some cases other business failures have impacted knife companies too- distributors, retailers and suppliers.

In regard to our knife organizations, the timing of this severe downturn couldn’t be worse, as most need the steady revenue while the leaderships conduct SWAT analysis on their organizations. The economy’s caused many collectors to drop club and association memberships.

economyThe dark-side of the recession is also having it’s toll on collectors in other areas too. More collectors are selling knives to help make ends meet. I spoke with another collector yesterday who is selling because he needs the cash.

One knife industry expert claims, incidentally, these collectors will become tomorrow’s dealers. His theory is this-  these individuals who do need to sell will hit the show circuit in order to liquidate. Then they will eventually need to buy more knives from other dealers in order to have additional inventory to sale. I think that is hog wash, personally. The guy I mentioned earlier who is selling off a major chunk of his collection isn’t going to set up at shows- he’s using eBay.

Even with the tough times, knife collecting is still making the cut.

The 2009 CNJ Knife Collector Survey taken earlier this year revealed almost half of the 1300 collectors surveyed stated their participation in the hobby hasn’t been affected by the recession.

Click to enlarge

2009 Knife Collector Survey Q#6 II

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There is an additional bright-side to all this too- Record low interest rates and tremendous investment buying opportunities. Untold billions will be made as a result of this recession. Cash rich companies and individuals will make a fortune buying in a down market, but when we do come out of this-  the business landscape will look all together different.

Don’t be surprised if there are some knife company mergers and buy-outs before this is all said and done too.

Photo credits: http://www.uml.edu; http://www.blogtrepreneur.com