Bradford, Pa., here I come

Well not exactly, not today anyway. Really not until July, but I am going.

Case Collector Appreciation Weekend 2008

Every two years, the W. R. Case Cutlery Company hosts their Case Collector Appreciation Weekend and I’m going.  It’s a fantastic time for any knife nut. Even if you are not an ardent Case fan by the time it’s over, you will be.

Why am I going to travel 900 miles to attend this event? Because Case asked me to, that’s why. Many of you know I’m a fourth generation auctioneer. And while I don’t sell knives in my real job, I can and for this special event- I will.

Case hosts an auction at each of these events. They sell one-of-a-kind knives made especially for their fans. This will be my third year to be their auctioneer…evidently my southern drawl isn’t too noticeable when I chat.

I know it’s a little early  to hit the road now, but do make plans to attend and please let me know when you do. We’ll make time to grab a cup of coffee together.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 9:36 am  Comments (5)  
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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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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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Another Knife Auction Underway

wardsauctionAnother knife auction is underway and is being conducted by Ward’s Auctions, a collectibles auction company. Eric Ward, President of the firm, contacted me about this sale. He wrote, “We are well known for ammo, boxes, advertising posters & calendars for hunting & fishing, but not so much when it comes to the Knives- NOT YET ANYWAY!”

While it sounds like the firm is focusing more on future knife auctions, the sale they have currently scheduled is a liquidation of knife inventory spread throughout the firm’s next four scheduled auctions. The first is going on now and ends November 20th. The November sale inventory consists of Case, Marbles and Winchester knives and begins with lot #9323.

The other three auctions are set for next year, so if you want to keep up, then bookmark their site or sign up for their email list updates and auction announcements.

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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National Knife Collectors Association Prototype Auction

NKCAProtoCrippleCreekPearl204

Cripple Creek Old Fort, Tn USA 1991 Mint, Pearl, Serpentine

The National Knife Collectors Association is having an auction to sell all annual club knife prototypes.

All 181 knives are selling absolute auction and online.

Each year, since 1975, the NKCA solicits prototype samples of the next year’s club knife and commemorative editions from the leading knife manufacturers. This auction contains knives submitted to the NKCA from W. R. Case, Cripple Creek, Kissing Crane, Puma, Buck, Boker, S & M, Blue Grass Cutlery, Fight’n Rooster, Queen, Schrade and others. Each knife is marked “Prototype,” or “NKCA Sample.”

nkcalogoLisa Sebenick, General Manager of the NKCA, is excited about the quality of the offering and said this is a rare auction as all knives are one-of-a-kind. Each buyer will receive a certificate of authenticity.

The auction is online and begins November 12th- 18th, however, fax, phone and email bids are accepted on Nov. 17th & 18th. The auction catalog is available for $15 or it is online now.

Photo credit: Bruce Voyles Auctioneers, Inc.

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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Leading Knife Companies Hold Gigantic Knife Auctions

Now that it appears the immediate threat to the Knife Manufacturers is well in hand, these companies’ focus is back to the business. Yes, before the recent scare about the Customs and Border Patrol redefining a switchblade, the knife makers had a more pressing problem- very sluggish knife sales.

Knife companies, like other manufacturers, are trying to balance production against sales orders. Unfortunately, knife companies are out there with a high level of knives produced before the severity of this current economic slowdown was clear.

In the past, knife companies found themselves in a similar dilemma, that is a substantial inventory on hand and insufficient demand through their normal channels to absorb it within a reasonable period of time.

Knife inventory represents precious capital.

J P King Auction Did you know cutlery history provides us examples of knife companies actually cooperating together during tough economic times to sell off their respective knife inventory?

Knife companies joined forces to hold gigantic knife auctions.

gavelA large two day auction of pocket knives and other cutlery was held on February 13 & 14, 1877.  John Russell Cutlery Company, Meriden Cutlery Company, Lamson & Goodnow, Frary & Clark, Beaver Falls and Chicago Cutlery contributed inventory. The New York Times reported “..the prices obtained were extremely satisfactory, being well up to current market prices. There was a very large attendance, including representatives of the leading houses in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Baltimore, and even San Francisco.”

gavelAlso another very large 4 day sale conducted in New York that same year. The knife inventory was contributed directly from the manufacturers. Buyers came from all over the country, including 156 wholesale and dealer firms, as reported in the August 13th 1877 edition of The New York Times. The articles also notes, “Prices ran well, and the sale is said to indicate that there will be a good demand for cutlery this fall and that prices will be stiffly maintained.”

gavelThe next year another auction was held for “large quantities of hunting knives, pocket knives, skinning knives, sticking knives, and other similar articles.” The two day auction was held July 24 & 25, 1878 and was reported by The New York Times. The article states, “Bidding was spirited and fair prices realized.” And while a lot might contain a single knife or dozens of knives, in all 2481 lots were offered.

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With the advances in technology, compared to the late 1800s, the auction bidding could be simultaneously offered online and “live” right from the auction room. The firms with inventory in the auction would be allowed to set up booths outside the auction ballroom to promote their firm- much like a huge knife show- but the difference is the real purpose behind the event would be the auction, unlike today, where the auctions are but a side note to the knife shows.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to attend an auction of current production knives represented by all the top knife manufacturers?

It would be hotter than the Blade Show and the SHOT Show combined!

Photo credit: J P King Auction Company

Voyles Flash Knife Auction #2

flashauctionKnife Auctioneer Bruce Voyles is conducting his second flash auction. It is open for bidding now and closes Tuesday, June 9.

In case you aren’t familiar, Bruce calls a Flash Auction an auction he runs quickly- on very short notice- with only an email to his list.

Got his notification of this 110 knife auction this morn.

I would point you to the online auction site and inventory, but I have go find it first- there was no link in the email notice he sent out.

Published in: on June 6, 2009 at 5:37 am  Comments (1)  
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I have a beef! Why can’t they let knife buyers know?

I have a gripe today. I try very hard to be a positive person. I have only ranted about a gripe here at CNJ a couple of times and this is one.

Auction without any bidders

Auction without any bidders

Today, I ran across an ad for a knife auction. It was a fair sized knife auction. 500 lots.

It seems the auctioneer either didn’t want knife collectors bidding, or simply didn’t know how to inform us.

I didn’t see the auction advertised anywhere in the knife world. No, I don’t mean Knife World Mag, but it includes that pub- I mean anywhere in the knife world. So much for target marketing. Now you may have seen the ad, but I didn’t and I read a lot of knife stuff.

So, guess where I found the ad for this knife auction?

It was in a pub this auctioneer probably uses to for all of their auctions, but it isn’t one that reaches the knife buyers, like Knife World, or even Blade. Heck, they could have posted it in a knife forum somewhere to say the least.

Instead, the ad ran in Antique Week. Now how many knife collectors- not dealers- but collectors regularly read AW? Not me. I just happened to pick up a copy because a co-worker writes a column in it.

Plus, the ad was in the May 4th edition. The auction date was May 9th. So much for giving the buyers time to get their ducks in a row and make plans to travel to Pennsylvania, wouldn’t you say?

We live in the internet age too, don’t we? Would you believe me if this auction didn’t provide for remote bidding- online or proxy, or even phone bidding, which tells me the auctioneer is still back in the 1980s.

Everything about the way this auction was handled gripes me, but it’s OK, cause I don’t need to buy more knives anyway- which is really good, because it seems they didn’t want us knife buyers bidding anyway.

That’s my beef.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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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-

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W R Case & Sons Cutlery Co, Bradford, Pa

Jumbo Swellcenter Elephant Toenail (sunfish) knife

Condition: Excellent

Knife #2-

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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.