I'll lead us off here- Even though I started collecting knives 35 years ago, I only really got serious about this hobby about 10 years ago.
When you first start building a serious collection, check out the different "kinds" of knives and directions before you jump in and spend big money, because it is common to "change" directions once you have been at it for a few years.
Briefly, my story is goes like this- When I first started back collecting, I went hard and heavy buying every "cool" hi-tech, ultra- modern knives Boker made, including all the autos, Michael Walker collaborations, and exotic handled (jade, ivory, etc) yearly knives. After about a year I have several thousand into my collection and then got a wild hair to change directions- I wanted to go into old antique knives. At that point I found there wasn't much of a market for many of the knives in my collection. The result- I paid retail and then sold for less than wholesale. Some the older limited edition exotics I still lost money on, just not as much.
My loss was increased because I wanted to sell this collection sooner rather than later, because I was offered a large collection of knives that fit the new direction I wanted to go and I felt I need to jump on them before the seller started selling off individually. I wanted the entire collection because I could not assemble a collection like I was being offered in my lifetime.
So, what's the bottom-line lesson here- 1) take your time when you first start collecting.If it takes you a few years to decide the direction of you want your collection to take, that is OK. It gives you time to confirm and make sure. 2). Recognize, if you want/need to sell quickly, you are going to take a bath- if you paid retail price or what in vintage knives call- collector value. The better way to go, in most cases, is to find users for the knives you want to sell, instead of selling them together to a dealer or wholesaler. 3) Be patient. I was impatient to sell and impatient to buy the other collection, probably over paying for it some too (but some times it isn't about the money- mini-lesson #4)
I would say 1st off learn the knife TERMS:
FULLER, not blood groove
JIMPING, not saw back
That way you can communicate effectively with other more seasoned knife collectors
Then learn the blade types and pattern types
Learn the MATERIALS:
Learn the difference between a (tang) STAMP, ETCH and DEEP ETCH
This one has been tough for me
Good points Trent. Thanks Yeah, I still don't have all the jargon down.... swedge is one that still gets me :)
Also called a false edge, it is a ground edge on the back of the blade's spine, that is chamfered, or non-sharpened. It removes weight from the blade and can change the blade's balance and penetration performance and appearance."
If you can get your hands on a copy, Levine's Guide to Knives is a really great guide for a collector new or old. This book has been our of print for a few years so it may be a little hard to find. There is a newer version that was put out by Blade called Blade's Guide to Knives and Their Values. While the Blade version copied a lot of what was in Levine's version, Bernard Levine's version is still better in my opinion. This book will give you detailed information about some of the knife makers such as Randall, Scagel, Morseth just to name a few. It will also give you some of the history of the some of the older knife companies such as Ka-Bar, Green River, Case, Hen 7 Rooster, etc. There are also sections on blade shapes and handle shapes. There are several pictures of old knives with some values listed. This book does not read like a comic book collectors guide. It will tell some values, but not very many. At lot of makers websites have blade steel, blade shape and handle material definitions on them i.e. A.G. Russell, Spyderco, CRKT, etc. Happy Collecting!!
I'm with you Chase on the 4th edition of Levine's being the best! Watch eBay. They do come round every now and then. I grabbed me a second copy to keep and not use (read: collect) :) cause my original copy was dog-eared to death.
This is Easy.... More is not better... Experiment with you $ just enough to chose a pattern of maker or both that you wish to pursue. Do not bid on every eBay item you "think you'll like" - buy some of the books Sargent's, with the CD, Pocket Guide by Parker, and Steve Pfeiffer's if you are gong case. If you are going to go traditional.... Less is more. Buy vintage near mint valuable knives now not new patterns that are worth 30% today than they were last year..... Bone and Stag, for Traditional.... Then if you really want a more is less collection, teem up with a couple of custom knifers and get some real nice knives...... Whatever you do have fun..... but I do not know the tactical market to advise you...... But I do know I own a bunch of knives that I with I owned half as many of two or three kinds and some customs.....