The Ethics of Knife Collecting

 A list of basic rules for Knife Collectors seems to have become necessary, probably because people in general have become more inline with the “If the rules don’t say you can’t; it must mean you can..” school of thinking.

The Knife Vulture

I fully concur with the school of thought when it’s a competitive endeavor, but collecting isn’t supposed to be competitive. As a collector we are taking it upon ourselves to preserve historically important items for future collectors to enjoy. Collecting is a communal activity, what fun would it be to have a wonderful collection and keep it to yourself?

Collecting is about acquiring the items of our interest from sources both inside and outside of the collecting community. With that in mind, I believe we need a code of ethics by which to measure our activities.

Here’s what I have to start….

 AS AN KNIFE ETHICAL COLLECTOR I PROMISE TO:

  1. Base all of my dealings on the highest plane of justice, fairness and morality.
  2. Promote Knife Collecting as a hobby while furthering the view of knives as tools and itens of interest rather than as weaponry.
  3. Encourage new collectors by providing guidance and assistance to assure their success.
  4. Furnish requested advice to the best of my ability and knowledge, and not to take advantage of superior knowledge on my part to the disadvantage of a less knowledgeable person. As a collector I will protect, preserve and share knowledge about items in my collection.
  5. Represent knives as genuine only when to the best of my knowledge and belief, such knives are in fact authentic, and when no significant question of their authenticity has been raised.
  6. Disclose all known defects, including tooling, re-engraving or reconstruction of knives I sell.
  7. Not to sell, exhibit, produce nor advertise counterfeits, copies, or reproductions of any knife unless their nature is clearly indicated as such.
  8. Neither to knowingly buy nor sell knives stolen from private or public collections or reasonably suspected to be the direct products of illicit activity.
  9. Not misrepresent the value of knives I buy or sell. Negotiating and “Horse Trading” are an integral part of the game and for many people the most fun. This is encouraged so long as both parties are playing fair and the resulting transaction is a win – win proposition.
  10. Take immediate steps to correct any error I make in any transaction.

These ten points will go far toward promoting our shared interest.

When a new collector is taken advantage of by one of the vultures who seem to lurk on the fringes of our hobby, not only does the new guy lose money, he also loses faith and most likely interest in knife collecting.

The Fakers, Liars and Charlatans chase the new blood away from the hobby. Like a miser ultimately comes to own everything, the victory is short lived as his once valuable collection is worthless since selling even one ends his monopoly. The value of a collection is based solely on the marketability of the items in it, a collection of used plastic forks has little value as nobody much cares about plastic forks.

Squashing the interest of an entering collector almost ensures a loss of value for your collection.

New collectors also bring with them more boots on the ground looking for the scarce items. You can’t hit every estate or garage sale on a given weekend; how many rare collectable knives become weed diggers or paint scrapers because nobody recognizes the rarity or value of it as a knife.

We need the kids and young adults to join the ranks of knife collectors if for no other reason than to have more people recognize the beauty and usefulness of fine knives to help avert the weaponization followed by government control of them as occurred in England.

1907-1911 Ideal

Photo of 1907 - 11 IdealThis is one special knife destined to be the centerpiece of someone’s collection, an Ideal made in 1907 – 1911 complete with a crisp, clear M.S.A. tang stamp.

This particular knife has an interesting story to go along with it’s rarity.

First, a bit of background on the Sportsman’s “Ideal” Hunting Knife as Webster Marble referred to the knife first released in 1900.

In the1903 Catalog he listed three “Styles”; Style No. 1 featured a laminated leather handle with polished staghorn pommel.

Style No. 2 was a Pinned Stag Horn Handle and Staghorm Pommel and Style No. 3 a hard rubber handle with six inch blade.

Styles 1 and 2 were available with 5, 6, 7 and 8 inch blades.

In 1906 the knives were “renamed” Model 41, 42 and 43 respectively.

In 1907, Marble was having difficulty obtaining sufficient staghorn to supply the entire line of this popular knife. The Model 41 received a pommel made of Lignum Vitae, a super dense exotic hardwood in place of the staghorn. The difficulty was resolved and the pommel was returned to staghorn after the 1911 production run until; 1920 when it was replaced with aluminum.

This knife features a lignum vitae pommel with the correct profile and 1/2” nut narrowing the production date to the period between 1907 and 1911.

Now for the story behind it the knife. Remember, a smart collector may well pay attention to “the story” but he pays money for THE KNIFE. Stories can be fabricated as easily as they can be true and without provenance add only interest to the knife.

The knife came from the second owner who purchased it from the family of Bill Finney a “Timber Cruiser” who worked the eastern U.P. around the turn of the last century. Bill carried the knife for a few years before putting it away. The knife he carried for the remainder of his career was a Marble’s Woodcraft, I wish I knew where it ended up.

In the time he used the knife, he modified it by grinding off the guard and lengthening the choil to allow choking up on the knife to end up with about five inches of useful blade.

The eight inch knife is certainly the more expensive of the line, costing a third again the price of the five inch version so I don’t think a thrifty “Timber Cruiser” would have spent the extra money. He also didn’t trade it off when he obtained the Woodcraft.

Since Webster Marble was a “Timber Crusier” in the same area and general time period, and those guys generally worked together or at least knew one another, could this have been a gift from Webster?

We’ll likely never know but the story has some merit and certainly adds interest to a knife that needs little help.

It’s in the used knife case for $650 and on the website for $595… It’s going to be an awesome addition to someone’s collection.

Photo of 1907 - 11 Ideal