The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
A few days ago I was on my iPhone searching for who knows what, & for some reason I found myself in the App Store -- a rare occurrence for me. Somehow I stumbled upon this app called Knives & Swords Collector. The app touted to be filled with data on knives & a great way to inventory a knife & sword collection. "At $5.99, it better be," was the first thought that came to mind.
However, as I looked around the App Store, there were only a couple other applications ("apps" for short) that were built for knife collectors. I tried to find apps geared toward collecting in general, but had even less success. The company that created Knives & Swords Collector has some other collector apps as well, but like Knives & Swords, they're actually limited by their focus. I guess it will be a while before I can find a similar way to organize my spinning top collection, though there was another app I found for book collecting that was free. I decided to download the book collector app to keep track of some books I already own so that I don't accidentally purchase a second copy -- but I digress.
Up until a few days ago, the most I'd ever spent on an app was $2.99, and the night I decided to download Knives & Swords Collector, money was not burning a hole in my pocket. However, if this app could do even a nominally decent job of helping me inventory my collection (in other words, if it was quick & easy & had plenty of knives already on file for me to download information on those knives to creating a running list of knives that I own), then it would likely be worth the six bucks, & tried to think what I would actually be paying for with that money.
Next I thought about the years of too poor knife photos that I took in my office just to get a photographic record of the knives I own, & how I often fell behind on this, & how I have never had a complete photographic record of my collection. The way I'd planned to organize my collection was to take a quick photo of each knife, download the photo to my computer, organize these photos in a separate file, then rename each photo according to the name of the knife. As you can guess, I often fall months behind on this process. And I was really only taking this inventory method for insurance purposes, with the hope that I could also use the information to help recall some details of these knives & tomahawks for informational purposes, as well as for the occasional knife or tomahawk sale (though to do justice of any of these objects would require much better than the drive-by photography in which I was engaging).
With all of that racing through my head, I figured, "Why not?," & hit the download button. I know plenty of people are wary of providing any credit card information online, especially via a wireless device, & I won't try to change anyone's mind on that here. What I will say is that, for those of us who have decided to take this risk, be diligent about it & use the proper encryption -- then at least be reassured that Apple's encryption was so good not even the FBI could break into it -- but again, I digress.
The app finished downloading & I immediately opened it to see what exactly I'd just spend my money on, crossing my fingers that it was worth it. It only took a matter of minutes to realize that it was. I created my account, set up my password, then started building my virtual knife collection.
What this entails is pretty simple: in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, you click the "+" to add a knife to your collection. From here, you get several options, including the apps database of knives that have already been entered by other users. You can also just use photos of knives from your phone or iPad. Just type in the name of the knife. Maybe this is due to collecting knives for years now, but the best results seem to occur when you type it in brand first, followed by model name (frankly I didn't even try it any other way, & I have no recollection what the instructions were for entering this information). On a whim, I downloaded this app just before going to bed, but I gave a few knives a try, & got some entries in within minutes.
As I write this article, I now have well over 200 knives & hawks & machetes & kukris & throwers & multi-tools listed in my "collection". It's taken a few hours' work to get there, & admittedly I've been enthusiastic about writing entries. But this is the best knife inventory system I have had so far, & it's something I've been wanting to have in place for years.
The app certainly has its limitations, primarily in that the Knives & Swords Collector App is a wiki. In other words, it's a website that allows for collaborative addition and editing of content by its users. One aspect of this is that any information that you enter -- & I entered a lot of information myself while I was using the app -- can be changed by others. This is not a deal breaker for me, since the most important aspect of the app is to have an easily accessible knife inventory system that can be easily added to -- the app has this, & I consider it the most important feature. On the upside, you can also edit information you know to be incorrect -- but you should only do this when you know for a fact that the information is wrong, it's only courteous (if you aren't certain, just create a new listing with the correct information & let others worry about the inaccuracy of the other person's entry).
Another aspect of the wiki format is that there will be more entries for more popular knives, & fewer for less popular knives. I found several entries for the Buck 110, for example, & absolutely no entries for the Svord Kiwi Trapper. Some reviews of the app tout the app having information for every conceivable knife -- this is far from accurate, though I don't know if that statement was made by a marketer disguised as a reviewer or just a knife collector with a fairly limited imagination. You can guess that this app is geared toward production knives, though you can easily add custom pieces & one-offs simply by entering your information then adding your own photo to the database (the app will not let you save an entry without a photo).
Regardless, there was actually quite a bit of content for me to use to add the most popular knives in my collection easily to my inventory. And frankly, the lack of content allowed me to feel I'd made actually a rather sizable contribution to the Knives & Swords Collector database (including the addition of that Svord Kiwi Trapper mentioned above). While writing an entry was not as convenient as clicking on one that's already been created, it also felt like a substantive return on my time investment. Either way, you have the option to have the app look up photos online for you, & it usually returns 35 photos when you go this incredibly helpful route.
And there was a total bonus when I made the entry for my Ontario RD-4. Mine was one of the earlier production models, made not long after Justin Gingrich licensed his Ranger designs to Ontario, & at this time Ontario was making the Ranger line with 1095. I entered "1095" into the title line, along with "orange G10" (the color of the scales on this piece), & of the 35 or fewer photos that popped up in the apps web search was a photo I had taken of MY RD-4 (I used it to split some fire logs while on an annual cabin trip with extended family a few years ago, & there it was, my knife on those logs, in my photo) -- this was just really cool to experience.
This will not, in my opinion, be a complete substitute for taking a photographic inventory of your actual collection -- especially if you're trying to submit your collection information to an insurance company after some sort of a loss, or maybe to police after a burglary. However, it's certainly a good supplement to that sort of inventory system, and in my opinion, works really for keeping personal track of your own collection, especially if your collection consists largely of production knives.
If you're still reading at this point, I just want to say thanks. I am just really pleased to have found the Knives & Swords Collector app. I'm not a paid reviewer, & I'll prove it here by saying that the app could use some significant improvements -- mostly in the area of content protection & content creation. And the app crashed on me a few times when I was trying to look up photos with the Web Search option (specifically, three times -- my suggested work-around is to use fewer, more specific search terms to avoid the crashes). However, for less than the price of a magazine, I found an app that could actually be useful in managing my knife collection, & I thought you might like to know about it too!
The APP will not whatsoever export on the PDF side, I have been successful with the Excel. The developer told me the following :
Jaron,is the XML export the PDF equivalent? Sorry, I haven't tried that, but if so I know PDF's can be pretty large. Are you getting it to export on the app side but not receiving it in your email? Or is the app doing something funky like shutting down every time you try? Have you tried exporting in CSV/Excel?
Steve, my instinct is to thank you, though NM Collector can easily do what you're saying it can do, I might just disappear from all human contact for a few weeks or months. I hate doing inventories, but I can get absolutely obsessed with getting them done -- at least if they're going well... But I'll thank you anyway -- for now at least. My wife & kids will likely thank you as well, for getting rid of dad for a while. ;)