Buying old rare knives under the influence

Now that I have your attention- here’s the deal. When we lock in on a knife to buy…sometimes our emotions can override our common sense. We are under the influence at that point; we are intoxicated. We are buying under the influence.

Keep your wits

When you finally find one the one and only knife you’ve been looking for don’t get carried away with emotion. Keep your wits about you before you pull the trigger.

While we all have gotten swept up in the tide of “I got to have this knife,” when in that situation there may be good reasons for not buying it. It could be it is a counterfeit and your gut is telling you to run; it could be the seller is of questionable reputation and the knife is too good to be true or it could simply be due to the knife’s condition the price that is way too high (then it’s just a “business decision”).

Word to the wise

My point here is not to be suspicious of every knife or seller you meet, but, on the other hand, I had a wise man once tell me…

“you have a gut feeling for a reason….so you had better listen to it.”

Most knives and sellers are fine, but if your gut screams at you….LISTEN. If you don’t feel you have enough experience then get a reputable dealer’s opinion.

Many knives are just too expensive (I’d rather say, “Valuable”) to throw all reason and logic to the wind. Yes, values continue to increase, but if you have reason to question a deal…then question it. Don’t blow it off by telling yourself that it is probably OK, when in actuality your gut is letting you know there is something that doesn’t feel right.

Take the heat

You may take some heat for your decision. I once had a dealer try to sell me a “Near Mint” toenail for a really big price. It was a Case Brothers with a really nice etch on the blade. And you had better believe he wanted a big wad of cash for it, so I gave that toenail a very close look. The etch was VERY APPEALING. I was under its influence…intoxicated by that knife. There is no doubt I would love to have a CB with an etch that nice.

But, in the end I passed. I overrode my emotions. There were a number of questionable “things” about that knife that told me it was possibly a rework and it was simply too much money to risk. In the end, I listened to my gut feeling. I took heat too. That dealer told me I didn’t know a good knife when I saw one. He was P O’ d (that told me I made the right decision too, incidentally).

Why are you offering it to me?

Also, the other thing to think about is this- If a dealer is offering you a “one of a kind” killer knife (now don’t take this wrong, OK?), but, this is the way I think…if it is so great, why is he/she trying to sell it to me? Dealers have a Rolodex of buyers, so if you are offered a knife that is so rare…so good, then why didn’t he just pick up the phone and call one of his regular buyers? Instead he is now offering it to you, or me.

Most knives are fine. And if it is a moderately priced knife then that is one thing, but if it is a price you know is a near record price, then ask yourself this question-  “Why does he still have that knife and is now trying to sell it to me?” You may have just gotten lucky- at the right place at the right time- but, maybe not, so just step back and don’t get caught up in the moment…under the influence. Don’t buy drunk.

I promise you, in most cases, if the knife is that rare and authentic…you and I would have never even known it was available.

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Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm  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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H Boker Factory Collection

20091023_2918To complement the recent feature article on Boker knives and the firm’s history in Knife World Magazine, here is the rare H. Boker Factory Collection displayed at Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville, TN owned by Kevin Pipes.

20091023_2929Even if you aren’t a fan of the Boker brand, if you like older knives, and pristine mint condition knives- with fantastic etches, then you’ll appreciate this collection.

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.