Whenever I meet new people, the question eventually arises–“What do you do for work?”
My simple answer is, “I sell knives.”
It is amazing how often I get some kind of baffled silence as an answer. And then, maybe right away, if I am meeting an unusually forward person, I get a follow up question. “Like CUTCO?”
After chuckling politely, I then explain that I have a retail store called BladeOps.com where we sell military, hunting, camping and collectible knives. Normally this is enough for the person to properly categorize me and be on their merry way.
But when I tell people I collect knives as a hobby, I always get a much more puzzled reaction. “Why?” is a common response. Unless of course it is another aficionado–and then we launch into a delightful conversation about our favorite designers and the newest materials as well as what style is our favorite.
But to answer those who don’t collect knives. I collect knives because I like knives. The why behind the knife collecting hobby is much like the why behind any other collecting hobby. We begin to collect something that interests us. As we learn more about the interest, our search broadens before it narrows again. In the beginning, more is better. You find this often with new collectors. They begin to pick up every different kind of knife they can, adding to their collection willy-nilly. After a few months or years, they begin to specialize. And since the world of knives is so huge, so enormous, it only makes sense to specialize.
Perhaps they like a specific manufacturer and begin to collect as many of their pieces as possible. I know people who only buy Spyderco knives. Others I know will only buy a knife if it is a Pro-Tech. Other collectors begin to focus in on specific styles or patterns. There has to be several thousand Out the Front automatics on the market, and some guys will only buy OTF knives. Others specialize in fixed blade. Some go for historical knives with a story.
Wikipedia has some good insight into the whole idea of collecting. Under the entry, Psychology of Collecting, it reads, “When people think of collecting, they may put in mind expensive works of art or historical artifacts that are later sold to a museum or listed on ebay. But the truth is, for many people who amass collections, the value of their collection is not monetary, but emotionally valuable—and often not for sale. . . . Some collect for the thrill of the hunt. Collecting is much like a quest, a lifelong pursuit which can never be complete. . . . Motives are not mutually exclusive, different motives combine in each collector for a multitude of reasons.” This gives us a good start on the why we collect knives, but I think it doesn’t completely answer the question.
At least for me it doesn’t answer the question. I think most of us collect knives because we like them and the stories they tell. I have a an old Spyderfly B02TR butterfly trainer knife. It really isn’t “worth” that much as a collection piece. But to me, it represents the beginning of my collecting days. It was one of the first knives I added to my collection. And it is a discontinued model. Because of this, it is unlikely that I will ever part with it. I don’t use it very much–I’m really not very good with butterfly knives. But I like it and what it represents–so I hold on to it as part of my collection. I also have a very nice Brous Blades Coroner with the Zombie Finish. The knife isn’t one I would ever consider actually using, but I like it because it is so over the top. It’s very extremeness makes me like it. My family gives me a hard time when I go to Costco to do some shopping. I like big, I like extreme, I like over the top. Because of this, I like the Coroner–and so it maintains a spot in my collection.
I have several knives in my collection that I use all the time. I have a Boker Kalashnikov 73 that I carry several times a week. It cuts great. It is easy to maintain. And it is perfect as an EDC. Other knives I carry on a regular basis include my Pro-Tech TR 1.31 Tactical Response, a Pro-Tech Runt 5415, a Benchmade Volli, a Benchmade Mini Barrage, as well as my Microtech Ultratech. I like all of these knives for daily use and cherish them as part of my working collection. But I definitely have a couple of knives that don’t get used–they are more of an investment to me. These include a couple of very limited Microtech Marfione pieces, a couple of SHOT Show limited Benchmade knives from past shows I have attended, as well as a couple of very nice knives from Pro-Tech.
So you can see I collect knives for two reasons. First, I collect knives that I can use on a daily basis as the tools they were intended to be. Second, I collect a few knives because they are extremely rare or limited and represent an investment of sorts. As pieces of art, limited and rare knives maintain their value quite well.
So, tell me, why do you collect knives?