Starting out

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A few things to consider when starting you knife collection

As with most collectors I find that I gravitate toward certain brands and types of knives. This is based on what I can afford and what I like  I don’t buy based on the knife becoming worth something, some day.  If I don’t believe it is worth something now or if I don’t like the way it looks now, I see no reason to buy it because it may be worth something later. It seems to me the purpose of collecting anything is because it brings joy to your life.  For some people the collecting hobby may turn it dealing or trading in knives or wapping knives for fun or profit. Perhaps one day I will do that too. Today, however, I buy what I like, including what others would consider junk! The trick, however is to buy your knives intelligently and with your eyes wide open, so as to limit future knife regret.

One way to eliminate future regret is to buy well known brands. If you don't know knife brands, you may want to do a little research before investing too much. Probably the best known traditional pattern knife company in American is W.R.Case & Sons (Case). Case is probably the most collected brand in U.S. brand of knife in U.S. History and would probably be considered the benchmark that other brands are measured against. This doesn't mean its the best or worse, just a good knife to compare others tradtional knives against. Of course, Buck knife collectors would tend to disagree.

If you go worldwide, probably the most recognized and respected knife in the world is the Victorinox made Swiss Army Knives. Victorinox is the most produced brand of knife in the world, today. The knives are also reasonable priced and easy to find making collecting a breeze. Unfortunatley the sheer number on the market and long production preiods of the same model, keeps the value of the knives from skyrocketing like lesser known limited run knives.

The key for the new knife collector is to investigate brand names and not be sucked into to buying pretty, shiny things simply because you're eager to build a large collection fast. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying low priced knives that look good, you should also want that knife to be be worth what you are paying. In short, make sure you are getting your money's worth. The same can be said for high-priced knives. Just because of knife is expensive, doens't necessarily mean it is any good.

Before you start collecting knives, think about these helpful tips. They just might save you time, money and dignity.

  • The first rule of knife collecting should be: If you don’t want to be disappointed, know what you’re buying and buy what you like.

  • The term "global" refers to knives made overseas, normally in Pakistan or China by American Companies. Some are very good and rival American knives in quality. If you want to buy these less expensive knives, then don't be detered by the Pro-America crowd but know what you are buying and stick to trusted brands or make sure you can return it or check it out before buying it.

  • If you refuse to buy global knives, and are going to review them , try to be apolitical in your appraisal and let people know you don't buy them for political or personal reasons.

  • The value of knives will fluctuate. While some knife brands are considered a better investment than other brands, there really is no guarentee that a knife will go up in value no matter what anyone tells you. This is why it is paramount to buy knives you like and not what you think will be worth a ton of money in the future.

  • Always comparison shop and take your time. You can’t own every knife you see. Don’t even try; you’ll go broke and regret many of your purchases.

  • You’ll never get rich collecting knives, but you could lose a fortune if you’re not careful. See the rule about comparison shopping.

  • Just about every knife is made in “limited” runs. Being part of a limited run is only going to date a knife, not make it more valuable.

  • A knife marketed as a collector’s edition could also be mass produced junk. It is a marketing ploy used to get you to buy something that will probably not go up in value.

  • If the deal seems too good to be true, it is. The knife is a counterfeit or a piece of junk. No one is going to sell you a quality knife for $1.

  • A great place to find older knives is at estate sales. Don’t expect a great deal all the time, however. Many estate sales are run by brokers who organize and oversee the family estate for a commission of the sales. They know what they are selling and try to get a fair price. Other places are pawn shops, garage sales and flea markets.

  • eBay is the devil’s spawn. Type the word knife in the search box and you will be overwhelmed by the number of knives up for sale. Watch out for high shipping costs. It is a way for dealers to artificially raise the bidding cost. It only cost a $2 or $3 to ship a pocket knife. As a general rule if the shipping cost is more than $3 they're inflating the cost of the bid. If person is selling 30 knives yet claims he doesn’t know anything about knives, assume he’s not being truthfl and may have something to hide. Even lousy dealers have great feedback!

  • Buy from a reputable dealer and buy brands you have investigated. Do they have a guarantee? Can you inspect before buying? Does the dealer have a good track record? Do they know the brand?

  • A company with a good reputation will mean higher cost but also a higher collectors value. Being well known doesn’t mean good quality. Being told it is a brand name product also doesn’t mean a thing unless you know the brand and know its reputation.

  • A vintage knife can also be a piece of junk. Not every old knife is rare or worth anything Buy it because you like it. Research the product so you know it is worth the selling price.

  • Just because its American made doesn’t mean it’s a collector’s knife. Americans can and have made junk.

  • When testing the quality of a knife, be fair. Use it as it was intended to be used. Any knife can be broken when abused.

The Thrills, Chills and Spills of Knife Collecting.

The biggest chill, of course is in most places you need to be 18 years old to buy a knife.  If you’re under 18, you can’t do it without a parents help.  It is a simple fact of life.

Just like any type of collecting hobby, knowledge is power.  The more you know about knives, the better off you’re going to be.  This is where the age old adage of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) comes into play.   Today, numerous companies make collectors knives.  The problem is, knives made specifically for collecting will never be as valuable as knives that have become collectible due to scarcity and people wish to own.  By this, I mean, a knife that people want simply because it is valued due to quality, make and scarcity.   The knife collector should understand that knife makers are going to make as many knives as they can sell.  Thus when someone tells you that only 1,000 of these knives exist, it means that was probably all the company felt they could sell at the offering price.

One also has to wonder about numbered production runs. For instance a company may market that only 25 knives will be customized and these will be numbered and signed. Obviously the knife is not meant to be used but is it useable? It may be able to slice a sheet of paper but could you actually skin a deer with it? Does anyone really care that there are only 25 of these knives in the world and are they worth the asking price?

In short pay listen closey to ever sale pitch and mkae sure you know what you're buying before you lay down good money for a knife.

Next Section: Quality vs. Quantity.

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