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Why knives? And what kind of collector are you?

By suggestion from Steve thought I'd copy this article over here. Looks like even the links and the pictures came along for the ride.

You can follow my blog here: http://lxemergency.blogspot.nl/

Why knives?

I was sitting in the car the other day, on my way to church and I was thinking about what my next blog should be about. And I would like to appeal to people who don't collect knives a little bit as well. You know. Keep it interesting for my family who merely tolerate my knife hobby instead of participating in it.

So I asked my wife, I said "Dear, what would you, as a non-knife-person, like to read about on a blog about knives?" And she basically said "Why Knives?"

So I want to write a little bit about why I like knives, and why a lot of people like knives and the various reasons for collecting them.
Bob Loveless in his workshop. 
Seriously...the man wore the coolest hats.

Knife making legend Bob Loveless said the following about knives:
"When a man picks up a knife, there's an old memory from the collective unconscious that surfaces. A knife is an atavistic experience. It was man's first tool and weapon. Man was chipping flint into cutting edges before he invented the wheel. No matter how sophisticated we become, a knife takes us back to the cave."
(Interview with Bob Loveless, Sports Illustrated 1980)

And in a way...that makes a point with me silly as that may be. When I hold a knife....it makes me want to do something with it. It makes me want to see how sharp it is. How long it will cut, how good it'll keep on feeling in the hand. It makes me want to go out into the woods and build a shelter, cut wood and MAKE something.

Shiny....sooooo shiny...must cut.....throats..
HAIR...must shave HAIR
(Source Sweeny Todd)

The idea that there is something that separates things at the moleculair level (which is what a cutting edge does) astounds me. The effort, the design and the production processes interest me enough that I could (and I have) read books about it for hours. Looking at a knife feature and thinking "why did they design it this way" can keep me occupied for quite a while and sometimes I'll bore my wife to death with the discovery of a new feature on something that I've owned for a long time. I love using knives, for me it all started with proper "Cut Throat" razors (Called Straight Razors properly) and it ventured on from there.

Well that's just me though. That said, my collection of knives is pretty humble. I spend a LOT more time and money on MAKING knives. So for me the interest in collecting them is also in learning from them about how to make a better knife. Sometimes I learn something about how a knife is built, and sometimes I learn how NOT to do something from the way a knife is built.

Apart from what I like about collecting knives there are a lot of other motivations for people. Here's a few collectors stereotyped.....and please note. A lot of collectors fall into more than one category. You'll also see a lot of these collectors in other collecting hobbies like Fountain Pens, Camera's, Watches etc.

"I finally found that goldcovered
 feather duster with diamond inlayed tip! 
Now my feather duster collection is complete!"

The one pattern guy:

This is the collector that just REALLY likes ONE type of knife. Or maybe it's one manufacturer or one handle material. His (her? There seem to be fewer lady "collectors") goal is basically to "Collect the whole set" Some people collect a Peanut Pattern, others collect knives in Mammoth Ivory (no, that's not illegal...mammoths were already extinct for a loooong time, no one is hunting them), others prefer Mother of Pearl or maybe they collect hand forged bowie knives. Maybe it's just from a certain smith or factory. The hunt for that one missing piece is a lot of fun and sometimes it takes YEARS to find that one that's been eluding you for so long. The person hunting for "The one" will pay a LOT of money that, to someone who isn't in the know, will not really seem worth it. But to this collector it is because of rarity for instance. When not coupled with common sense the One Pattern guy will turn into the Fanboy.

The Investment guy

The Collvestor is basically looking at his hobby as a way to make money. However it's mostly the trading that he likes. He'll be buying low (if possible) and selling high. However this guy knows that it's pretty difficult to make REAL money through his collection. It's basically turned into a personal challenge. He'll be scouring E-bay and trade shows. Looking into garage sales and secondhand stores.
At the higher end of the scales he'll be looking at newer custom makers and trying to predict which ones will become famous and go up in value. There are a lot of Collvestors who aren't very good at it. being a good Collvester takes a LOT of research, time energy and often money. For a lot of these people the game is a lot more important than winning though. And they often don't mind all too much if they lose some money on a deal. Someone who's got quite an eye for this (and literally wrote the book on it) is Les Robertson.

The Trend Chaser

I kill the CRAP out of those boxes!
The Trend Chaser is someone who's always looking for the latest and greatest. He sees folding knives with a new locking system? He's gotta play with one. He sees a new type of steelcoming to market? He's gotta get one. It doesn't matter if he has any real use for the knife or not. Some trend chasers use knives in their daily lives, others just chase em to collect em. Some will take them out on militairy deployment, others into the woods. Others will just sit and open and close them in front of the TV. (And open the occasional box with em)
What you do with the knife isn't really as important as the fact that you own one and have actually held one. These guys are the early adopters of the knife world. And sometimes they can make or break a makers reputation.

The I-collect-what-I-like guy.

You're not my real dad!..I do what I want!
(Source, We're the Millers)
This guy is usually a mix of all of the above. (And this is what MOST collectors are like). They'll just buy things that they like. Sometimes that's because they like the history, sometimes because of the price, sometimes because the materials or the design are something special. These guys are most often called "Accumulators" rather than collectors by some of the other groups. There's no real order to what they like. But they don't care. They like what they like and if they lose money on it, or if it doesn't fit in with the rest of the collection then that's just fine. Their collections are one big mishmesh of patterns, materials, makers, priceranges and era's of knives. They like what they like and they'll do what they want. No apologies.

The User

He might be a woodsman, a butcher, a chef, a militairy man or all of the above. But the User buys his knives to USE and will let everyone know. The knives in his collection will show patina (a light form of corrosion), sharpening marks and scratches.
These guys are often LOVED by knifemakers. They can tell a knifemaker how to improve his work in a functional manner. Some of these guys will buy VERY expensive knives and use them in the same way they'll use a $50 knife. Some of these guys don't know much about making knives, or steel chemistry or things like that. But they know what makes a knife work well. Some makers will even send these guys knives for virtually free just to get some valued feedback. (Or at cost of materials)
Don't be this guy.....just don't.
Source
And then there's the worst kind of collector (in my view)


The Fan-Boy
The Fan Boy is kind of like the One Pattern guy except that he's a complete fanatic. He devotion to a certain thing (brand, model, maker) is complete and blind. He's the kind of personality that you see on forums that, when someone has a complaint about a certain knife (like it broke or something), will be the first to accuse the owner of doing it wrong.
He's the person that, when someone complains about being ripped off by a maker, will say "Don't worry, he'll make it right", or "He's a great guy, he'd never do that" or "You must've been rude to him or he had a bad day or something".
Nothing you can say will dissuade the fanboy from his devotion. His object of adoration is flawless and anyone who refuses to see this is an idiot and not worthy of respect or decency.


Like I said though. We usually are a mix of all of the above. Be whatever kind of collector you want to be.....just don't.....DON'T be a fanboy. (Or girl)


Gratuitous picture of some knives I made..
also...buy my knives!

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Comment by Mike Bryant on June 4, 2014 at 12:19

The I-collect-what-I-like guy. That's Me That's Me.  Should I change my name to Earnest T???  


Featured
Comment by Steve Riordan on May 21, 2014 at 20:18

Great intelligent observations of the different types of collectors of edged weapons...still not sure where I fit in or if. After some deliberation I might at great cost change my attitude and expectations of my collection to something more thought out and deliberate. I have been floating between many makers, styles, blades, and ages and can't seem to settle into a theme. I know I want a Weapon of Defense, Feels Good, Looks Fantastic, I'm stuck between the Royalty of Stag and the Simple Warmness of a Good Wood, and a Blade that will hold a Razor's edge forever, that can be hammered into a stump to string a Bear. That's All!...... OH YEAH

I Want a Collection of these that are All different in every way! Thank you! 

Comment by Alexander Noot on May 21, 2014 at 3:12

Thanks guys. I try to make it a little enjoyable to read for non knife people as well.

Robert, you and Steve were actually a couple of the people I was thinking of when I wrote about the user collectors.

Jan, we're so diverse that we're often more than one type of collector. I'm a bit of a mix of the Pattern guy, the user and the "whatever I like" kind of collector. Sometimes I'm even a little bit of the investor.

Thanks Terry, Thanks Ken.


In Memoriam
Comment by Terry Ray on May 20, 2014 at 17:32

This was a great article, thanks for sharing it

Comment by Ken Spielvogel on May 20, 2014 at 16:30

Great and interesting article

Comment by Jan Carter on May 20, 2014 at 16:20

LOL it is a great conversation and I agree.  We are a diverse set of collectors, we all have different ideas of what we want our collection to be.  Sometimes there are more than one type living in the same household LOL


In Memoriam
Comment by Robert Burris on May 20, 2014 at 9:03

Great job on this Alex. I read it over on Facebook and I figure I'm the user collector and a little of Pattern guy too.

White River Knives

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