The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
Hey all, the ASH knife discussion got to the topic of the definition of "custom" knives, which a lot of people likely missed simply because they didn't read all of that thread. I'm guessing this topic has come up for discussion before (while I don't recall seeing this topic discussed in recently, I may have missed it, life's been pretty full in recent years). Regardless, it seems it could use it's own, new thread.
I take particular interest in this topic because I have long been a proponent of truth in advertising and an opponent of deceptive marketing. However, I also realize that sometimes the "custom" label is placed on a knife in error, due to a simple misunderstanding of what constitutes a "custom" knife.
According to A Pocket Guide to Knives, there is often confusion between the terms "custom," "customized," "factory custom," "custom design," and "limited run" knives. http://apg2k.hegewisch.net/custom.html
Factory custom knives, according to this definition, is essentially a production model of a knife with specific components chosen by the customer, while custom design knives are factory produced knives designed by a certain designer. Limited run knives are obviously specific versions of a knife produced in a limited quantity. To knife people, these are pretty obviously not custom knives.
The confusion that seems to crop up even among knife people, in my experience, is between custom & customized knives. I will even add a third confusing term, & that is "handmade".
A Pocket Guide to Knives defines "customized knife" as "taking a factory made knife and making after market alterations." Unfortunately, while the author makes certain to point out that there is a definite distinction between "custom" and "customized," the author does not offer much of a definition of "custom," which I was a bit frustrated by.
Here is the paragraph in which the author attempts to define a "true custom" knife:
"Custom knives are normally made one at a time by hand. The may be made by an individual craftsman or in some cases made by a team of craftsmen. In some cases the knife maker may make several specific models, but the production of the knife is normally based on a customer's order. Some custom makers may even make multiple copies of the same knife based on its popularity and probable demand. The value of a custom knife is almost always dependent on the knife maker and his/her reputation. In some cases, some custom makers become so popular that their business expands and they need other knife makers to assist in production. At that point, you could technically say the knife is a "Factory Custom" For Example Bob Loveless produced custom knives, Bo Randall started as a custom maker but the company he founded now turns out Factory Custom knives."
This paragraph nails handmade & customer-based order components of a "custom" knife, but then seems to apply the "factory custom" & "customized" standards, presumably the difference being that there is one individual maker involved (& ironically almost seems to recognize the error at the end of the paragraph, but then just doesn't see it). What's really missing from this definition is the direct design input from the customer, which leads, at least at first, to a truly unique knife.
Since the author wraps up the article by stating, in a section titled "The Gray Area," "[t]he problem for the knife collector is that no two people will ever agree on any of the categories I've listed here. And even those who might agree to a point will argue that the categories overlap or that I have left out crucial details. In the end it will be up to you as the collector to decide what is custom and what is just customized."
Yes, I argued that there was overlap to the author's definitions, but not because I came up with my own definition of "custom". The solution to understanding the definition to a word is to learn the definition, not make up a new definition. There may be differences in definitions from different sources, but usually the core meaning is the same, because there is a general agreement as to the standard definitions of most words in any language. Take it to heart when I say that a civil society will be impossible without our ability to agree on simple definitions of words -- it's the only way we'll have a chance to understand each other.
According to the Google dictionary, the word "custom," in this sense an adjective, is defined as, "made or done to order for a particular customer." This is basically the definition I learned as I came to understand the knife world. In other words, without customer input on the original design of a unique knife, a knife does not meet the more strict definition of "custom".
Unfortunately, I think there are plenty of sophisticated knife manufacturers & sellers that are very much aware of this difference in definitions & simply exploit their customers' lack of knowledge to sell a standard pattern (possibly even mass-produced) knife as "custom". And that's deceptive marketing that really angers me.
Also unfortunate is that the more strict definition of "custom knife" has become an ever rarer one in the same sources in which I learned the definition in the the last ten years.
Admittedly, this discussion became much longer than I'd originally intended, and provided a more assertive argument than originally intended. But this is still a discussion, and since you're still reading, I can only assume you have some thoughts on the matter as well -- please add those thoughts below!
Reasonable people will generally find a common ground and work from there. Another slippery slope, in my opinion career politicians are no longer reasonable people LOL. Fortunately, we have active groups with the knowledge and passion to help with our fight at this stage, where it is only turning back a few laws and safe guarding many more rights for us.
As the UK "gravity knife" discussion takes place a reasonable person in Parliament that has taken action. This began as a discussion on a UK forum from what I understand. I pray this is not the only legal action they will take. There are some other knife related items that could use a looking at in the UK.
Which brings me back to the custom discussion. Does anyone know if this is effecting custom makers in Canada?