Pieces of Knife Company History

I’m thankful to be a collector of old knives and knife company memorabilia today.

Why am I thankful? Because I can find things folks are selling so much easier now than I ever could have back pre-World Wide Web.

I’m convinced we now find more of what we collect than ever before. No wonder folks used to quit collecting because they no longer could find knives/memorabilia they hunted.

Think about it- Folks find knife “stuff” that we collect all the time. In the old days, it would get chunked in the garbage. Today, more folks take a few minutes to “research” online first. And as more collectors put up websites and other “flags” folks can find to help them identify the collectiblity of this “stuff,” the more it goes into circulation and makes its way to us.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about- A significant piece of knife company history.

Napanoch Knife Company printers block

It’s a printers block used by the Napanoch Knife Company during the years of 1900-1919. It sold on eBay for $261 yesterday.

Napanoch Knife Company ad from 1910

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 11:34 am  Comments (1)  
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The Unintended Consequence of Pulling a Knife

The Faceoff

Flashing his knife

Knocked loose in scuffle

Now the other guy's got your blade

The Unintended Consequence

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 11:38 am  Comments (6)  
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How about a pile of pocketknives?

It’s no secret I love playing with knives. And I am every bit as crazy about auctions. So, what happens when you combine the two? Well, I can start a new collection with the nod of my head.

Gotta another knife auction going on. This time a high-profile gun auctioneer is selling them. Interestingly, the knives are mostly all piled together.

Check out Rock Island Auctions. The dates are Feb.27th and 28th. The firm is selling 2100 lots. Only 17 are of knives, but you might find something you can’t resist.

Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wide open as a Case knife

It’s funny how once you get tuned into something, you all of a sudden start noticing it. Take cars for example, how many times have you bought a new car only then to start seeing your car everywhere. Well, I heard me another new knife saying yesterday.

I was traveling with a new sales rep for our company. We ran to Chattanooga for a meeting and on the way we were talking when this guy said,

“I’m as wide open as a Case knife.”

After about a second, I interrupted him to ask why he said that and what it means. I’d never heard that expression before. I actually thought he used that expression because he knew I am into knives. He went on to tell me it was a saying he always heard his dad use and that he’d never really thought about it before.

Last night I did a search on that phrase. I found it in a Sports Illustrated article where an Alabama-born coach Curley Hallman baffled reporters when he used it. He was describing a quarterback competition and he said- “It’s wide open as a Case knife in a barroom brawl.”

I also found it used by another Alabama coach reported in the Times Daily. Then I found it used by a southern humorist. It was also used on TideFans.com and then again on SECTalk.com used in an Alabama/Georgia football game discussion.

I emailed my friend at Case to ask about what he knew about it. He replied he’d never heard of it either, so I have concluded it is southern expression, possibly even an Alabama colloquialism.

And even though I’m in and from the Heart of Dixie, if I wasn’t a knife guy, I’d probably never noticed it.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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SharpByCoop rolls out new cutting-edge knife photo gallery

The next best thing to buying new knives is looking at them.

Couple a talented photographer with super-cool knives and then throw in the web’s ability to display these knife images, what do you have- SharpByCoop.com, the most cutting-edge knife photography gallery.

Jim Cooper’s ability to capture the spirit of a knifemaker’s talent is something to behold. His client list is a Who’s Who of the custom knife industry and his pictures have been repeatedly featured in every knife publication.

Over the last seven years, Jim amassed over 5000 images of handmade knives. And while Jim displayed his work at shows, his studio and his website, roughly two-thirds of his photo library consisted of knife pictures used by internet dealers and were removed once the knives sold.

When I asked Jim about his major website upgrade, he shared with me-

“The benefit of it goes out to the knife-loving community to admire, compare and archive these wonderful pieces. It was a shame to limit these incredible knives to our private library. We have included thousands of images previously only seen on dealer websites. Moreover, the Gallery now has all our current clients, as well as studio work from 2004- 2007.”

SharpByCoop is extremely easy to navigate and highly functional. All the images are quickly searchable to create a ‘virtual gallery’ of a specific maker’s work. And you can now expand to full screen, tag images, create a customizable slide show, link to a page or email to a friend and the search results are shown in date order too. The Gallery is also set up to purchase any image- in large or small prints, digital files and non-watermarked dealer shots.

Jim’s work is so good that you’ll get a very bad case of the wants within seconds of hitting his new homepage.

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Burden of a Knife Repairer

In our Knife Resortation Series we are looking at the big picture, and some of the ramifications, of bringing knives back to life. We recently established The Line all Knife Repairers (or repairmen) see when restoring knives.

In my interviews with these master craftsmen, it is clear they inherently shoulder a burden. A big one. And this burden exists whether they like it or not.

What’s the burden? To cross the line or not.

Think about it. Put yourself in the shoes of a Knife Repairer. You repair knives. A knife owner sends you an old knife wanting its broken blade fixed. No problem. Fixing knives is what you do and you are good at it.

You evaluate your opinions-

  • you can go to your parts bin and select a blade that’s as close to the original as you have at the time
  • you can go on a hunt to try to find an exact match, but that could take a lot of time- weeks or months, maybe even years
  • you could even weld the broken blade tip back on, if the owner still has it, otherwise you must weld a different tip on instead. At least this way it has the authentic tang stamp.

Knife Part Bins

You know actually fixing the knife isn’t the problem. The issue here is “how” to fix it. The actual labor and repair part is doable, but must you authenticate the old knife?

Is the repair going to make the knife appear to be authentic and in original condition? If you have the exact blade to replace that is one thing, but if you don’t what is the customer asking you to do?

It’d be easy to say- My job to fix knives. This one needs a new blade and that I can do. What does it matter to me what the knife owner does with this knife? I’ve simply been hired to fix it. Plus, I don’t know he’s not just going to give it to little Johnny to dig in the dirt with.

Is it your responsibility to screen your customers to determine their intent for the knives? Are they going to sale or keep them? Even if your customers say they are collectors won’t the knives be sold eventually, so what then? Or do you simply do what you’ve been hired to do and fix the knife- no questions asked.

Do you repair it and then give the owner a “letter” explaining the repair that he must use if he ever decides to sell it so the buyer will know the knife’s not authentic (assuming you couldn’t find a blade original to the pattern and the knife company with the right stamp to use)? How then do you know the owner will provide the eventual buyer with your letter anyway? Or do you add something to the knife- an identifier,  so it’s “tagged” for the rest of its life clearly distinguishing it as having been worked on?

You are a Knife Repairer. And inherent with that job is a burden, because you see The Line.

Photo Credit: Knife Part Bins- Bob Picklesimer

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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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.

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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RAT Cutlery Co. changes its name


Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin of Randall’s Adventure & Training announced earlier this week that they would officially be changing the name of their cutlery division from RAT Cutlery Company to ESEE KNIVES.

According to the firm’s release, Randall and Perrin made this decision due to confusion in the industry with other companies who market knives under similar names.

The new name (ESEE) comes from Randall and Perrin’s experience teaching survival courses to military, law enforcement and civilians in the jungles of South America. ESEE is an acronym for Escuela de Supervivencia (School of Survival), Escape and Evasion.

This initial name change will take place over a period of 6 months and should be fully swapped over by February 1, 2011.

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm  Comments (5)  
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52 tons of knives & other stuff used in 2012 Olympic Stadium

Ever heard of recycling knives? No, not melting and then re-forging old blades into new ones. I’m talking recycling entire knives and other metal items seized by London’s Police Dept. and then using them to build major structures, like this one-

Rendering of the main 2012 Olympic stadium in London. (Credit: Populous)

I’m all for recycling and all, but my question is this- what are collectors of old knives to do if there are no more old knives to collect. Today’s knives are the old knives of tomorrow.

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knife Restoration- The Line

There is a line, and it is black and white.

In our Knife Restoration Series, we are looking at the bringing old knives back to life.

Knives do break and need repaired, but today, I’m not talking about fixing a knife; no, I’m talking The Line.

Some see it clearly, to others it isn’t quite so clear, but all know it’s there.

“A knife needs fixed.  That’s when the “restore or not” question comes in.  I guess that’s the thing…..when you’re working on a knife, you know if you’re doing something to blur the issue of authenticity to future observers of that knife.  When you get to that line, you have to decide….”

Quote from an interview with a knife repairer

There is a line, and it is black and white.

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 8:37 am  Comments (1)  
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