The Manic Knife Collector

During the last several years, I was in infrequent contact with a guy who liked to buy knives. Not really use them, but purchase them and then … own them. He was a “collector”, at least that´s how he liked to see himself. Let´s just call him Wilhelm.

Wilhelm, as long as I knew him, never had a job or a real purpose in his life, besides accumulating knives. He did not concentrate on specific types or brands. The pure fact that it had a sharp blade, came from a somewhat respectable manufacturer or was just plain cool, was a reason good enough for him to want it. Money was always scarce (as he lived on state welfare), but that did not hinder him from getting more and more.

Whenever we talked over the phone and I mentioned a knife of mine that I did not like that well or did not need any more, Wilhelm wanted to buy it. I cannot recall a single incident when he declined an offer to sell him something. He did not care if there were signs of use, obvious imperfections, a lack of packaging or whatever. He wanted more and more “toys” (that is how he frequently loved to call them).

Usually, I charged him exactly what I had paid for the things and more often than not, a good bit less. Sometimes, if the knife was swapped for something else, I probably made a little money in the process. I never had a chance to visit the house where Wilhelm lived alone with his mom, but his edged possessions must, by now, go in the many hundreds, not counting the gear surrounding it.

I am no longer in contact with Wilhelm, as some of his gun-control views annoyed me too much to justify his benefits for my life. I just cannot stand hypocrits who own a collection of daggers, swords and crossbows (and even some clearly illegal edged weapons …), but want all kinds of “sensible” gun control and banning of “assault” rifles. They make me sick to the core and also remind me of the people that are anti-gun in general, but when travelling to the US, spend a great deal of money at some rental range there, bursting away with full-auto-weaponry.

Knives are not really meaningful as collector´s items, be they custom art pieces or high priced production items. They usually just do not hold their value very well, even when kept in pristine condition. I see many ebay auctions and forum offerings with people asking what they consider a “fair price” on a long ago discontinued knife from the 80s or 90s of the last century (20th, as I write this), eventually not getting it sold at all or just making a tad more than what they originally must have paid at full retail. Some Randall, Lile, WW2 or Vietnam era models might be an exception, but how can one predict what model will be valuable in fifty years from now ?

This blog is knife-heavy, but I do not “collect” them. Almost all of them are folding knife users and fairly inexpensive. Besides those, I have “only” around a dozen pieces or so that I have no real use for, as they are pure fighters (and the Zombie Apocalypse is not on the horizon yet) or illegal to carry where I live, or hold too much personal memory to part with.

I also do own a handful of wilderness blades, but my outdoor needs are best served with standard Moras, solid tool-style choppers, simple machetes or compact utility models in a somewhat frugal price range.

Sometimes, when I covet a knife a lot or it fits my hand like a dream, I even buy a spare, out of fear that the maker might discontinue the model. In the last years, that happened with the ESEE H.E.S.T., the Counter Point 1 from CS, the Kershaw 6034 or the Böker Plus Kwaito (of which I actually own three … it is no longer made).

Still, I am convinced that too many luxury possessions, fun as they might be, can definitely weigh you down and eventually become a burden in your life. You might not want to become a minimalist, but everybody who´s into “man toys” is probably wise to make a thoughtful consideration of what is needful and what´s not. End of gospel.


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