Knife Company Memorabilia- Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. wall display

It’s not everyday we find a true piece of knife company history. Last week an item sold on eBay and it was a true treasure.

Here’s the seller’s description:

c.1920- 1930 36” X 48″ FOLDING ADVERTISING BOARD, made of heavy cardboard, beautiful colors with blue, brown, cream, red and green.  The center picture is of a grey haired gentlemen in suit and tie peeling an apple with his pocket knife with “FRIENDS FOR 30 YEARS” in the frame.  The other two frames are (1) a picture of kitchen cutlery with “CATTARAUGUS –IS A GUARANTEE FOR CUTLERY” and on the other pocket knives with “LITTLE INJUN LINE-A KNIFE FOR EVERY USE.”  At the top center it says “CATTARAUGUS CUTLERY CO., LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y.”   On the top left is a picture of the “LITTLE INJUN” and on the top right is another picture of an “LITTLE INJUN.”  We understand that one is on display in the National Knife Museum.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot- it sold for $869 plus $150 shipping (proving again, good stuff brings good prices, even in a bad economy).

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm  Comments (6)  
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Two more knife auctions for your bidding pleasure

Two more knife auctions are headed our way and just in time for Christmas. Have fun and get your shopping done at the same time. Got friends and family you still need to buy for? Then here you go-

Auction #1- 650 lots of knives: Simultaneous Online and Live auction Saturday Nov. 28th.

Auction #2- 306 lots of knives- Online only auction Bidding begins Nov. 30 and ends Dec. 3rd.  Here’s a quick vid overviewing this inventory.

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Keep your eyes wide open for knife auctions or you’ll miss out

Bruce Voyles Knife Auction

Bruce Voyles Knife Auction

As a fourth generation auctioneer, knife collector and general auctionholic, I love auctions. Auctions are in my blood. I watch them with keen interest- the psychology of the auction method is fascinating.

When it comes to knife auctions- Katy bar the door- I’ll start a new collection purely on impulse (just don’t ask about the last auction I attended and my “new” folding hunter collection). Anyway, here’s my recommendation to you who are in the hunt or just like to go see what you can pick up-

Keep your eyes wide-open for knife auctions or you may miss out

Today, we are seeing knife auctions pop-up unexpectedly- both in places and by auctioneers we wouldn’t normally watch. These auctioneers are bucking the old business axiom “Specialize in good times and generalize in bad.” While you may consider the U.S. economy today to be “bad times,” that’s not the point. Today is good times for the auction industry. Folks are electing to “re-allocate their assets”- some by choice, others by force. But either way, auction opportunities abound for today’s auction industry.

Knife buyers must keep their peripheral vision clear in order not to miss opportunities because not all knife auctions are running through the traditional channels.

Here’s what I mean-

The KC Auction Company has a large one-owner collection of a wide assortment of collector knives up for auction beginning at 10:00 am this Saturday, October 24th in Kansas City, MO. Bidding will be both live and online. Check out the inventory of over 300 knives, including 35 Randalls. All knives (lots) are selling absolute- with no minimum bids.

Also, Ben Bray Real Estate & Auction Company has a 425 lot auction of knives and guns conducted on-site in Lafayette, TN on Saturday, November 7th.

I’m all for auctions, both as an auctioneer and a buyer, but the bottom-line is we must diligently watch- cause some will be in places we didn’t expect.

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 10:02 am  Comments (1)  
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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-


W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co, Bradford, Pa

Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail (sunfish) knife

Condition: Excellent

Knife #2-


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.

Pay Now and Bid Later

logoblinkAuctioneer implements new promotion for bidders

No, you read it right- Pay Now and then Bid Later.  It is not a typo or a joke. Instead it is a new approach to engage bidders for Mooney’s Auction Service, a collectibles and antique auction house in East Durham, New York. 

The auction house wants you to pay for your anticipated purchases upfront… like weeks or could be months in advance.

I guess it is like buying a gift card, sort of. You pay in full today and then can spend your money (money you have already spent, mind you) as you wish and when you wish. Got it? 

The benefit to you of turning over your hard earned cash in advance is when you do eventually spend “your money,” you won’t be charged their standard 10% buyers premium. 

Oh yeah, I forgot one very important term of their deal – if you do sign up and prepay, they will give you a $7 credit at their snack bar.

How is this being received by bidders?

When asked how many buyers have responded to their new offer, the son of the owner of the company said they have had a few sign up so far, but that they had a few details to work out still.

Then he admitted folks are asking what would happen if the company went out of business before they used up all their money buying items. He said his dad is looking at maybe backing it up with a mortgage on his house, or something.

What I particularly like about it is this- I’ve got to spend money to save money. I admit I’m familiar with spending money to make money, but this is different; in fact, it is called Fuzzy Logic.

I know I’m really not being fair here because there is the $7 credit at the snack bar.


Source: Maine Antique Digest, Jan. 2009 by David Hewett.

Don’t you just love Knife Auctions?

gavelGuess where I am going here in a few minutes? A knife auction. Yeap, you know everybody loves auctions- they are fun, plus there may be some deals to be had (on a knives you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Isn’t that the way it usually goes?). 

Tonight Bruce Voyles is conducting a 1000 knife auction held in conjunction with Parker’s Knife Show. It is going to be interesting to see what today’s market prices are. The knives are going to be sold at Absolute Auction- without any minimum bids or reserves. Therefore, market value will be demonstrated in real time.

I’ll report the results in the CNJ Weekend Edition, plus I’ll summarize my observations of Parker’s Show.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 5:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Legends of Knifemaking Auction 40 Results


Clip point Bowie

Clip point Bowie

Carved Ivory handled Skinner

Carved Ivory handled Skinner

CNJ reported on a major custom knife auction– The Legends of Knifemaking- Auction 40. This auction was conducted by Bruce Voyles and is now history. 

 In total 179 custom knives were sold through this auction for a total sale of $125,000, including the 13% buyers premium. 

Two knives made by Bill Moran sold the the highest prices. The Carved Ivory handled upsweep skinner sold for the highest price in the auction- $7500. The second was a super Clip point Bowie for $7000. The other results are linked here for you-  


Published in: on September 20, 2008 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Early Cutlery Firms Join Together


Being a fourth generation auctioneer and one who seeks to learn all I can about knife company history, anytime I find any information related to both of these areas, I am interested. Recently I did find a tidbit of auction and cutlery history combined.

Did you know that in 1877 several of the early American Cutlery Companies joined forces to auction a large amount of cutlery?

The auction was held in New York City on February 14th, 1877 and consisted of 800 lots. There was a very large attendance, including representatives of the leading houses in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Baltimore and even San Francisco.

Listed as participating in the auction was Beaver Falls Cutlery Company, Landers, Frary & Clark, John Russell Cutlery Company, Meriden Cutlery Company, Chicago Cutlery Manufacturing Company and Lamson & Goodnow Manufacturing Company.

The New York Times reported on that date that the auction prices “were extremely satisfactory, being up to current market rates” and there was discussion of making the joint auction a permanent thing. It did go on to say the auction would continue the next day.

The article goes on to say, “The companies, although they have succeeded in driving most of the English manufacturers out of the market, have met a serious obstacle of late in the establishment of cutlery manufacturing companies in the West. They thereby lost a considerable proportion of their trade. This fact, and the general depression of trade, have left on their hands a large overstock of goods they wished to get rid of.”

Reprinted with permission from The News at

Published in: on September 17, 2008 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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