The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
Any other vintage collectors of Parkers, American Blade, Taylor, United Boker, Frost, or STAR brands out there?
Am far from an expert on these brands, but I do own a few! I typically have gone "straight to the horses mouth", with many of my questions answered by Buzz Parker. Have another friend, who I would consider experienced with '80s SEKI produced brands. Drop me line, or a question anytime please! Thanks.
Steve, Mike is misinformed., Kencrest is a "knife broker" they don't manufacture and never have. Mike may have thought Kencrest was a manufacturer becaus they appeared as the Shipper on jhe Bills of Lading of the Seki knife shipments.Kinryu made most of the Seki Blackjack fixed blades, and Harumi Suzuki was not a knifemaker. In fact he was a former Trading House executive who married the daughter of a knife factory family, If this issue is important enough to you please feel free to ask Mike yourself, Please tell him Ken Hashimoto is in Seki with Jemmy Iwahara,and sends his best regards. Personally, it's decades old history and have doubts whether Mike would remember or even care at this point,'
Tim- I am still travelling so I will try as my time permits.
Steve Scheuerman (Manx) said:
Ken...the information above was a private message sent to me by Mike Stewart, the founder of Blackjack Knives the same day I posted it here.This was posted a few years back by Mike Stewart...the original owner of Blackjack Knives.03-12-09 15:01.01The Trademark is now Owned by Blue Ridge knives and Smokey Mountain Knifeworks jointly.
I don't know the exact ownership percentage between the two Companies but they do have a lot of join holding.
Blackjack was Bought last year from Knifeware Inc.
Knifeware Owned it since 1997 and it was a company with a large number of Stockholders from 1987 until 1997.
I originally Founded it in 1987 but have had no part in it's ownership since 1997.
I have made them regardless of who owned it.
I still make them today.Here is some more info."The knives that were made in Japan were done by The Kencrest Corporation in Seki city Japan" I shouldn't post when tired...for some reason I was thinking Ken Warner, not Kencrest. Hence my comment above. My mistake.
OK, so it makes sense to me now. Blackjack was one company, for a while they had some done in Seki. They changed ownership but not who was making them. So I am going to assume these are made by Mike also and the little better quality than had been been seen during a short period of time on the USA models. Black Jack Classics.
Those knives were part of my confusion because yes, I had heard they were being made by Mike.
The confusion likely did come from the bill of ladings and Kencrest also being the broker. So it is very cool to get thorough this and understand the history of the company as it evolved. Not to mention to know it was Kinryu that indeed made most of the Seki Blackjacks.
Thank you both for helping me understand
Blackjack Classic Knives came about after Blackjack International. The Blackjack International knives were sub par in my opinion. When Mike owned it, it was Blackjack Knives...and those were Seki made until they moved operations to Effingham.
good info manx & ken!
Finally got a little break so I will respond to your question. G.Sakai's old factory location houses the "Knives of the World"
museum,, an outlet shop where you can buy what they make, and a part of the older factory that has been modified. The Museum contains not only G.Sakai knives but those of many brands and actually seems to cover an awful ot of vintage stuff,There were actual Loveless knives, an original Jimmy Lile Rambo, A Buckmaster 184, Randalls, Al Mars just to name some that stood out to me. There were also quite a number of Custom knives from around the world, and cases full of pocket knives, I did take some very crappy photos that will at least give you some idea, Unfortunately I did not take any photos in the factory area, but I will report on that next time.
Another chance to log in...The Museum is connected to a large outlet shop which carried a big variety of G.Sakai manufactured knives. The actual G.Sakai brands appeared to be lower priced than on their website, incldiing all of their H1 Sabi series. There were alot of SOG folders and I noticed some on display had the older "bullet splitter" logo. Oddly the Tomccat 3.0 was priced at Yen 25000 which would be about $50 more than what it can e found for in the US. There were also many various Spydercos. Behind the outlet buiding was what I was told thr onlt part of the "old factory" still in use. It housed two large lazer cutting machines and I watched the blacks being cut from sheet after sheet of steel.The sheets ended up with rows of blanks cut and the were removed and inspected by hand. There were stacks of finished sheets, which had knife blank shapes all cut out in neat rows, and although I had made a mental note to ask what they did with those afterwards, I forgot (lol). We then drove to the main factory, a larger clean white modern building which "GERBER SAKAI" printed in red, I was told that Sakai Cutlery established in 1948, got it;s first export contract from Gerber in 1977 and their head designer at the time, a fellow named Al Mar spent time with Sakai to produce the Silver Knight folder which became a hit product, Naturally the close relationship between Al Mar and Sakai continued after he left Gerber. Apparently, out of appreciation for Gerber's contract, Mr Sakai added "Gerber" to the company name, There was no equity interest or joint venture signified by this,and Pete Gerber simply accepted it as a friendly gesture. AS Gerber itself vanshed from the Seki market, the name was officially changed to "G.Sakai".but they hadn;t bothered to change the buidlig sign. Walking past a couple of structures, I was told that in one building sime German engineers were here installig and adjusting sme new lazer cutting equipment And I ws told of the virtues of ctting blanks with precision accuracy without any collaterak pressure on the sheets as with a press. Entering the main portion of the fatory I walked past perhaps 20 "reisu-dai". This translates to "lathe platform" and is basically a grinding wheel at a little below waist height, and the worker sits in front of it. The Reisu-dai is unique to the Seki cutlery industry as other places in Japan do not use them. I noted that walking along the rows of these Reisi-dai the weels varied from grinding to polishing, and watching a worker I noted that the sides if the wheel as used as well. I got to sit and talk to Mr Y. Sakai, current President while he packed a box of Spyderco Deica 4s and would occasionally hand me one and tell me to slice a sheet of paper, He was very pleased with the results of Lazer cutting and went on to say that he'd like to see more hi-tech auutomation in Seki, Mr Sakai is the current Chariman of the Seki Cutlery Association. His concern of course was how to continue in the global cutlery industry, and expressed the view that perhaps Seki had clung onto the "craftsman" mentality too long. I respectfully pointed out that it was that "craftsman" mentality that built Seki's global reputation and automation is fine as long as that is not wasted or lost. We walked around and I got to see SOG Vulcans both drop point and sanmai tanto in various stages of polishing and finishing, and stacks of boxes filled with blanks or handles.I asked him about his H1 knives and he said that he does make all ther H1 folders for Sal Glasser but that for fshing, the fixed blades that offers under his own brand makes more sense. He also said that he can guarantee that his H1 blades will never rust, but that the edge retention was not very good, I also got to meet 2 of his 5 sons, who run various parts of the factory. He praised Spyderco's designs and felt that SOG's designs were too bulky. Whe I mentioned that I was a bigtime SOG fan he gave me abit of a "what do YOU know" look. LOL My next visit was to the workshop of a "Craftsman",the very definition of what Mr. Sakai was talking about,
thanks for taking time to pass along to us, your Japan knife makers trip. can tell you have enjoyed yourself much. your pictures look fine. talk later ken.
Thank you so much for sharing the visit! The pictures are great and what a grand history. I would not mind more automation but they need to make sure they dont do what we did and lose the actual trade and craft. The US has fought hard to get back to it
The Second of the three Museums is the Seki City Hamono Kaikan (Cutlery Hall). Owned by the City and comprised of knives contributed by the various Seki knife companies, I will try to label, or at least address some of them. The first photo was a surprise to me as I had always thought that KAI, the largest cutlery company in Seki and Japan as well, manufactured all of their products in-house. Not so with these Kershaw knives made by Oono Knife Manufacturing Co., Seki. There were examples of the Ken-Nata, the tradiional Japanes filed knives that display traits of both a knife and the Nata- the traditional Japanese hatched. G. Sakai had a good presentation, as well as Tak Fukuta with the fanous stag handled skinners and hunters on display.
beautiful knives all ken. planning on picking up some for yourself? thanks for your time spent sharing with us.
I managed to pick up a Hattori KD30-104 a fixed blade in Cowry-X power steel damascus.This series is custom made by Ichiro Hattori after receving an order and normally takes a minimum of 2 months to complete. I lucked out on one that the buyer cancelled out on, so I got it at quite a bargain, It normally retails for about USD 1000.- This is is a stock photo, the knife on top is the 104. The bottom one I could have gotten as well but I refrained as although the steel material is completely different it is the Gil Hibbens designed hunter that Hattori made for Browing in 1984/85 on a limted basis.
Visiting the Hattori workshop was the highlight of my trip. Ichiro Hattori is about 76 years old, and has a reputation for being a tough perfectionist. But with Mr Iwahara's introduction, I was welcomed in and spent the better part of the afternoon with him. I showed him my collection on my cellphone and he just went through it, callnig out the model numbers on the OEM models with a "Yes I made that", "I made that too" "No that one wasn;t me, it was Ishikawa (IC Cut). He showed me his recent work, several Fallknvens including a one of a kind IDUN in Cowry-X damascus that was simply signed "By Ichiro". He went off on the virtues of the "Hamaguri Ba" or, Convex Grind. I metioned thatmany people had problems sharpening them and before I knew it, I was being taught how to correctly sharpen a convex grind and edge by Ichiro Hattori himself.!! He then showed me his collection room wjich contained samples of all the knives he had made under OEM as well as his oen brand and unmrked prototypes.
(To be continued)
You sure got yourself a great knife and congrats on the Cowry X !! I understand that this steel is well worth the cost to purchase a knife made with it.
On another note:
I metioned that many people had problems sharpening them and before I knew it, I was being taught how to correctly sharpen a convex grind and edge by Ichiro Hattori himself.!!
OMG what a rare treat that would be, any pointers you can share??