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)  
Tags: , ,

On the lighter side: A wired old knife collector having a blast

I’m often asked, “Scott, just how do you do it? How do you keep all the knife related projects going?”

To begin with- I have fun doing all my knife-related projects. And yes, most of them do involve the web.

And it is true, as I find new technologies I’m going to do a test drive. At first, many of these tools are a little far out for most collectors. I know that. But it’s clear there are thousands of wired older collectors, plus younger collectors are using them already.

Twitter is one. Blogs were but are close to mainstream now….well, almost. Social Networking- facebook, MySpace, YouTube and iKnifeCollector members are continuing to mushroom in number.

As an aside, I’ve gotta share a funny email I received the other day from a fellow iKC member-

“Scott, You might want to look at getting a 5-point safety harness installed on your computer chair. So you won’t be blown away with all this new member registration.”

Jerry Smith – J. W. Smith & Sons Custom Knives

OK, so maybe only the early adopter collectors use these new web things, but really the point here is for me to come clean.

I don’t want folks to feel sorry for me about the number of things I have going.

I’ve wanted you to see me as an old knife collector sitting behind a wooden desk with my feet propped up as I peck away on my keyboard. Kind of fits with the image of an old knife collector, doesn’t it?

No, I don’t have a super-duper computer chair with straps. But the truth is I do have a get-up that handles extreme speed and keeps it all going very efficiently. I haven’t wanted to show you because I hate the knife collector-geek reputation.

Only so you won’t worry about me any longer- here is how I get it all done…I just don’t use a keyboard 🙂

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

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)  
Tags: , ,

The Knife Collector’s Christmas Dilemma

Christmas isn’t about getting presents, we all know that and yet, receiving gifts is still very much a part of it.

You may be getting a knife for Christmas. That’s the good news. The bad news is most of our family members don’t know a Spyderco from a C. Platts.

“What’s the big deal?” you ask. Well, we knife collectors have honed our knife collection down to either a specific type knife, handle material, make or era. While we like knives, we’ve kind of gotten particular.

So what do you do when someone is going to buy you a knife for Christmas?

In our family, we used to ask each other what they wanted so we didn’t buy them something they’d just use at next year’s Dirty Santa party. Asking each other in advance is a good way to get what the other person wants.

But what if you collect knives that can’t be purchased at Smoky Mountain? What are you then to do?

I’ll tell you how it works at my house. We buy our own presents, well my wife and I do anyway. Yeah, each of us will buy the other person something, but we buy our own “big” gift and then it is given to us by the other person…we just buy it for them to give to us.

But when you buy yourself a knife and it represents the present from your wife or kids, then you better watch out. This is exactly what happened to me last year.

The Knife Collector’s Christmas Dilemma

Last year I bought me an old stag Case Brothers toenail. I really didn’t buy it for Christmas, per se, instead it came my way right before Christmas, so instead of buying it and then sticking it in my collection, I decided to use it as the gift from my family to me.

Looking back, I’d been better off putting it in my knife display, then gone and bought me a Buck knife as my Christmas gift instead, because when it came my time to open my present, I knew exactly what my wife was going to say. I just knew it. But I only thought about this dilemma after I’d wrapped it and stuck it under our tree. Too late to do anything about it then.

Sure enough. Round the family we went. The way it works is the person opening the gift must announce who gave it to him/her and then hold it up for all to see. Well, it came my time and I realized I shouldn’t have made this knife a gift.

As I opened it, I announced it was from the family. Then I held it up and quickly looked to my daughter to my right and said, “Your turn.”  Then it came. That dreaded question. No sooner had I held it up when my wife said-

“Oh, that’s nice. How much was it?”

Take the advice of an old knife collector and when you want a knife to add to your collection, buy it and stick it in your display. I know the temptation is strong to make it part of Christmas, but don’t do it. You can rationalize it by saying you are going to spend money on a gift anyway, so why not get a knife for your collection at the same time, and I know that. Just don’t do it. It is not a good way to start off Christmas Day. Trust me.

Speaking of buying knives and getting into hot water, one day I’ll tell you the story about buying the A. B. Haines Elephant Toenail Collection. It’s been going on 10 years now, I guess it’s time to see the humor in it.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 7:53 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Knife Talk- Case TESTED XX Green Bone

Who said knives can’t talk…

Case TESTED XX Elephant Toenail (1920- 1940)

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 8:21 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , ,

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  
Tags: , , , ,

The knife that helped build early America

EleToeLogofinal-2Every collector has a favorite.

Whether it is a single knife, brand or pattern, we all have a favorite. If you don’t know by now, mine is a pattern- I’m what is called a pattern collector. This simply means I try to acquire all the different variations and brands of this one knife pattern.

My favorite is the vintage pattern commonly called the Elephant Toenail (although it’s had many nicknames over the years, as you will see).

The Toenail was instrumental in helping build America in its early days. It isn’t the oldest knife made here, but was probably the hardest used work knife produced by the early American cutlery companies. It’s amazing any of them survived.

Over the last few days I’ve been playing knives on my Mac and put together a short little presentation about this old knife. Thought you might like it too. 🙂

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.

(more…)

Have the needs of knife collectors changed?

Many of us are members of different knife clubs and organizations- I am a dues-paying member in three myself. Knife organizations played a prominent role fostering our hobby for many years. They connected collectors, provided collectors a sense of belonging, provided news and organized knife shows, to name just a few examples of benefits offered to their membership.

There is an interesting editorial by Bruce Voyles in Knife Illustrated this month on the subject of knife organizations. It is entitled, “Are Knife Organizations Getting Left Behind?” and while he doesn’t delve too deeply into the subject, he does put it on the table for us to consider.

In it he recounts the history of how collector associations and clubs formed. Then he leads up to today and calls the leaders of these organizations to examine their mission and practices in order to appeal to today’s collectors.

And pertaining to these organizations meeting the needs of today’s collectors, he added-

“The future of knife organizations is only that of decline and eventual dissolution unless they discover some 21st-century relevance.”

*****

Now I must ask- “Did the needs of collectors change or were the organizations so busy working in the business of running the organization that they failed to work on the business- staying abreast of changes (technological advances/collector habits and lifestyles) that would benefit or negatively impact the organization?

Here is an interesting stat on this subject from a survey of the membership of iKnifeCollector.com, an online collector community.

member profiles- members of knife orgs

In case someone wants to scoff at this stat as skewed data because “only young people use the web and online collector communities, and they aren’t members of associations anyway,” well, the average age of the iKC membership is 39.55 years old and that’s close to about half life.

If that statement is true, on the other hand, and “young people aren’t members of knife organizations anyway,” there may be a clue for these orgs to get back on track, wouldn’t you say?

If  today’s organizations do attempt to appeal to this younger collector profile- some things are gonna have to change- that much I can say.

Stats can be interpreted differently. So in fairness, the above data either means the majority of today’s collectors don’t feel the need to join these orgs (for whatever reason) or the iKnifeCollector community has successfully reached the next generation of knife collectors who have yet to join the traditional knife organizations.

This brings us back to our original question- “Have the needs of knife collectors changed?”

What do you say?

The survey data represented in the chart is from iKC’s membership as of 9.02.09.