The Next Generation of Collectors - Where are they coming from?

It’s been so hearting to see folks here on iKC who for 50 years or more have collected knives. I watch Versus Network and the Outdoor Channel and they have Cabalas, Mossy Oak and other corporate sponsored teen hunts and – God Bless them, Bass Pro Shops have seminars for youth. It’s a fact not an argument that hunting has saved the American Turkey and it’s created a healthier whitetail population with proper management. It’s also the same for most migratory birds too. It’s the passion behind the cause that creates this kind of results and allows for the harvesting and management this naturall resorse.

What about knife collecting, the survey supports that tactical knife are what the 30 and under age groups are buying… They are also spending lots of money on imported blades of all patterns. Case help Frost make Corelon and acceptable handle material that’s now selling in other brands for sub $10.

My thought here is this; where are the Case marketing dollars going to that will prop-up traditional knife patterns or are they leaving the to Bear and Sons, GEC, and a handful of American made knives. I do not see any youth programs out of any knife manufacturers.

The best story I know of regarding this is Michael Sabol an 11 year old member of this iKC family who was at a show and one of the VPs of GEC sold him a 3 spring whittler for $1.00.

My son loves collecting knives and that’s why I’m looking to swap out some to keep it fresh to him. But where are the Buck, Case, Kershaw, Bear & Sons, etc. and then where the custom knife guilds and what are they doing in promoting their craft to youths. And why are not more of the collectors, merchants, and show folks doing something to gain new blood into the mix. Cheep foreign knives are not the answer. A quick fix but it’s my humble opinion that a good knife is like a good gun. I recall saving the return deposits on cola bottles until I had enough to buy a Benjamin Pump Pellet Rifle I still own and my son shoots 40 years later.

I think the answer is mentoring by way of networking like this forum provides for. I think knife shows should promote some collectors to donate some knifes that can be raffled off to youth. I think Case has a great Idea behind the “My first Case Knife” but why one style and why not 100 trappers (bone not synthetic or corelon) that a young person can take pride of ownership with. How about each one of us; I have 30 knives or so that are keeper to a younger person who’s never collected a thing of value can get that feeling of responsibility and delayed gratification. Today’s children’s attention span is short. That’s why I want to freshen up our collection and give Kell the sense of the art of bargaining; giving up this for that.

Bass Pro Shops, Remington, Mossy Oak, Cabalas and others are investing in their future by use of promotional hunts, media shows with youth as the host… products for youth and female sport geer. They're not only investing in just their products marketing but investing in the sport of hunting, wildlife concervation and opening up doors for more participation thus assuring it’s all not going to be legislated out of existence by the anti gun folks. Well, we knife folks have had switchblades taken away from us years ago and more recently the thrust to take away assisted openers for no good reason except as political payback for special interest.

When are we going to learn our lesson? Will it be when someone sneaks in a bill a ban on interstate transport of knives? Or will our manufacturers, custom knife makers get out and promote proudly this wonderful hobby in ways that seem to be working for hunting, wildlife preservation, and commerce?

I hope we do so; there should at least be company that puts out a bumper sticker that says “Take a Youth to a Knife Collectors Show” and we should all do so when the next one is near you. I will be there will Kell and a one of his friends.

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Tags: Knives, case, collecting, custom, guns, legislation, payback, political, promotions, shows, More…youth

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Comment by Frank Evans on December 28, 2009 at 18:05
Comment by Frank Evans on December 28, 2009 at 17:58
Comment by Frank Evans on December 28, 2009 at 10:08
That’s just the kind of reaching out I think must be done. JJ’s right it is up to us but I think people like you, on with one with a child has such a great impact. But we have to get them there.
But the message to the story is that it was active participation – one on one with my son… See my “All the knives on eBay” blog Knee to knee and toe to toe.
I wanted to explain this to say that I think the Scouts is a fabulous place to nurture these children into the fold so-to-speak. It’s one of the last places that it’s acceptable for a child to handle a knife. In today PC environment, knives are thought of as only weapons not tools like we grew up with. And if it’s not cute and has a tooth pick, tweezers and scissors to cut price tags off with, it’s un acceptable to carry something else.
I’d recommend you organize flea market outing for the troops in small one adult to two boy or girl groups and hit some flea markets. If it is anything like what we experienced nearly all should find a scout pattern. For those who may not they be able find one then they can negotiate off the ones who found more than one and swap. It’s a great experience in capitalism… I think it could work… I’d beta test it with a few that were interested in a knife badge and make it a yearlong project not a weekend.
There is though a place for corporate responsibility too. JJ does that not see it that way, but I think the US knife makers would be doing themselves a great favor to donate, discount, raffle off at shows a few hundred knives of all kinds but especially the traditional patterns and in a bone handle. I say good quality knives because with my son, he learned we have our carry knives we are proud of and like to show off but we also have collectable ones that we do not use for anything but cleaning and displaying or trading and swapping…. Something we’re just trying out. It’s good for him to learn to give something up, for something else and keeps his interest and focus on the collection without buying new knives all the time. That’s the way they use to do at shows.
But we do need corporate public awareness of some kind of sponsorships at shows, for scouts, and for the general public. It is Public Relations 101 – No corporate charity I’m referring to. Case need to follow the lead of Kyle Petty and his efforts to make dreams happen for critically ill children… They should all receive a “My first Case knife” which sadly becomes a family heirloom…. But it just begins there…. Classic Case Pattern knives are NOT used in 99% of crimes… Tactical ones, well that’s a little different story. Like it’s been said here, children need some explanation to these wonderful pieces of art explained to them. They need to know that Mammoth teeth, bone, Indian Samba Stag come from a special area of India where this is the major export for that area once a year when the tribes pick then up and trade for other need like flower, seasonings and staples.
I could go on brainstorming but without an ear at Case of Buck or the NKCA or Museum, this is just a great discussion amongst iKC Members… A. G. Russell can spear head this with help and Steve Pheifffer has the ear of these Case folks. I’d donate time and my limited resources to designing and implementing some of these things we have thrown out.
If there was no NRA, Wild Turkey Association, Ducks Unlimited and other organized efforts had not been spearheaded years ago there would be a different landscape out there with no turkey, fewer hunters, and more restrictions of Gun ownership…. The image of the knife as only a weapon and not the artisan’s craft that it is and its historical participation the knife as a tool of survivorship, pioneering through the unchartered west and as our fathers simple carry knives we all recall is not preserved it will be lost. Am I being over dramatic, I do not think so. It’s a piece of Americana, of Naive American Culture and International cultures that fought wars freed people – it should not be just thought of today as a black opps tactical weaponry to be legislated away. The artisanship should be celebrated and passed along, the history told, and the wonder of collecting experienced……
I know it’s too long of a post but I had two more cups of coffee than normal.
Comment by Gary Kennedy on December 27, 2009 at 9:14
Hi Frank , I belong to Chattahoochee Cutlery Club in Atlanta Ga. we are starting a program that reach out to boy scouts about the knife collecting hobby. It is new and not off the ground as I write this I will try and let you know our progress . I sell knives at knife shows & gun show for years and my biggest joy is to see the faces of a small boy are girl when I make them a deal on a knife or give them one . they always remember me and try to get a better deal the next time . I think it's our duty to pass this on in any way possible
Comment by J.J. Smith III on December 26, 2009 at 23:51
It's up to us to help our kids "get the bug". We can't rely on companies and corporations to do this.

I've first tried to teach my girls the proper way to use their knives. Once they see what they can accomplish, with only a pocket knife, they gain more respect for the knife as a treasured possesion.

They are both still young and they may never really get in to collecting, but they will be able to appreciate a good quality knife when they see one.
Comment by Brad Hyde on December 26, 2009 at 18:48
Well written Frank. I have had the same concerns for a long time and I addressed them in my blog "The Death of Vintage Knife Collecting". Anyone who has this concern should read it...it goes hand and hand with your blog.

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