View Full Version : Maker's Older Knives, Opinions please...

Jason Cutter
05-15-2003, 11:03 PM
I presume this is a debatable issue as I've gotten different ideas already from several people I've spoken to.

If you are a maker who continues to make significant improvements in design, execution, fit and finish. What should you do with older knives that perhaps work just as well (solid build and construction, grind, symmetry, HT, etc. all OK for performance). But perhaps the satin hand rub is not as immaculate, or the lines don't flow as well, maybe the tapered tang is not thin enough, a little epoxied up gap here and there.

Would you :-
1) put it down to experience and keep them as "previous" samples of your work ?

2) Try to pretty them up a bit and sell them ? But could take more time than its worth ?

3) Mark them as "early work" and sell them +/- at reduced prices ?

4) Continue to list them on your website, keep pushing them till they're sold ? Surely someone out there wants them ...

I've been told that you're only as good as your last knife, but what about knives already sold say, 2 years ago, that fall into the category above.

I would love opinions and comments from Les, any buyers, collectors, makers, dealers perspectives. Thanks in advance, Jason.

Jerry Oksman
05-16-2003, 04:44 PM
I am only a collector, but to those knifemakers that I have spoken to about this, I have heard one thing. and that is that they wish they could take some of the old knives out of circulation. Their feelings on this being that their work has improved so much that those old knives (while they may have been good at the time) no longer represent the kind of work they are currently doing. As such to sell them even at a discount would do a disservice to their reputations. What happens if you sell one and it gets compared to a newer knife. The person with the new knife is annoyed he paid to much. The person with the older knife is annoyed his knife isn't as good. Now I understand that you are explaining to the buyer that it is an older knife from a lesser experieced you which is why your willing to lower the price. In their heads they get it, in their guts I am not so sure.

When you buy one or two knives it's cause you need them, when you buy more than that it's cause you want them. I don't think that any kind of misgiving should be allowed to perculate out in a business that is very heavily based upon reputation and word of mouth.

I hope that's clear enough without being too negative, it's late friday and I'm still at work and it's been one of those weeks. I am in a very "glass half full" kind of mood.

Chuck Burrows
05-16-2003, 05:31 PM
One of my mentors told me "never sell seconds" and another advised "Would you buy it ?"

Two pretty good criterion. On the other hand you will always be improving so when do you decide something is good enough to sell? I've got customers who have collected my stuff for years and can see the difference/improvement and they realize the difference. For them in a way it is a plus as they have an "historical" collection. (heck look at just about any famous artist - their early "crude" work is usually just as desirable as their later more "refined" pieces - for instance who wouldn't want the first Loveless drop point or an early Moran in their collection!) There are pieces of mine extant that I wish weren't but that's just part of doing business and growing in my craft - if I waited until things were "perfect" than I'd never have sold or sell anything.

Still the bottom line is - if it doesn't feel right, if you even "think" you will regret it, then don't do it, especially since you have the option of putting your stuff on the market or not

05-16-2003, 06:56 PM
one reason i engrave a date on mine.
here is a previous thread on this very topic: several ideas not yet mentioned here.

05-16-2003, 11:28 PM
My favorite maker has been making knives for about 30 years. I have some of his newest and some of his earliest knives, and the main difference is in the direction(s) he has gone in, not so much in his quality. IMHO, his early work is every bit as good and desirable as his more recent work.

Sandy Morrissey
05-19-2003, 09:18 PM
If your blades were dated with the year they were made it would explain the lack of quality when compared with later dated knives, provided the maker had strived for improvement. Ford and Chevrolet date their products and the newer models are expected to be better than their earlier models. I do not see them recalling the older models because they are not equal to the newer. If a knife is a collectible from a prestigious maker, chances are that the value will increase with age even though the quality was of a lesser degree. Your older knives are a barometer in reference to your present efforts. Be proud of what you have achieved and look forward to the pride you have yet to achieve! Sandy

Jerry Oksman
05-23-2003, 02:50 PM

I see where your coming from, but Ford and Chevy don't sell 2 or 3 or 4 year old models. They have sales each year to get rid of the old stock. Used car dealers (in our case the knife dealers) are the secondary market where they get sold.

As for recalling old ones, they do that when something has to be repaired. After the Goverment or someone forces a recall on 'em.
Remember firestone?

Jason Cutter
05-23-2003, 03:05 PM
TODAY'S THE SHOW ! I thought I'd tell you guys what I ended up doing.

My concern was that while I thought that some of my older knives were good enough to sell, they weren't as good as my current batch in terms of the finish and overall design.

I selected those I wanted to sell (maybe) then went over to see what I could fix. As it turns out I had a few hours left, so I tried fixing any "problems" eg.- scratches, uneven polished handles etc. Did up anything that could be done.

Anything that couldn't end up being fixed, I still managed to clean up anyhow.

One of the things I've just learnt for newbies etc. It probably doesn't matter how amateurish or contrived your design looks, if you keep the design CLEAN and the lines CRISP - it will somehow look 10x better. If the finish is even - everything will look intentional.

There was an article in Blade a couple of years ago by Bill Herndon - The Good The Bad and the Ugly. Anyone who hasn't read that article should, I reckon. It teaches good things to be aware of when making a knife.

Anyhow, I managed to "salvage" 6 knives. I'm still selling them at a lower price because they are still older models no matter what. I'll see how it goes. Thanks for all your replies to this thread. Its much appreciated and has given me food for thought. Ciao. Jason.

Chuck Burrows
05-23-2003, 03:52 PM
Good luck Jason! Let us know how things turn out.

Can't see anything wrong with that approach.

05-26-2003, 02:11 PM
Your point is very clear, and understandable. I think most reasonable people fully understand that a dedicated craftsmen will grow and expand his skills through the years. In the short time I've been looking at your work, I've already noticed a difference. I see this as an example of dedication and growing experience.

Jason Cutter
05-26-2003, 02:30 PM
Just had the Knife Show this weekend. I had a great time. I believe attendances and sales were the best for several years. I got my Full Membership for the Australian Knifemaker's Guild and also got to sell 17knives (I brought 31) and got 9 more new orders. Bittersweet, 'cos I now can't take any more custom orders. My wait time has now blown out to 6-7months.

The old knives sold well. I brought 6 "refurbished ones" and they were priced down still. There were clearly a lot of people at the show looking for "entry level" hand crafted knives, and it seemed to fit the bill for them. I sold 4 of the 6 "old knives." I also sold several new knives that had "Field Grade" finishes ie.- no tapered tangs, embellishments or hand rubbed finishes. The fit and all that is still as good as any of my others.

It was a great learning experience for me, my second Knife Show, as I'm sure it was for most others too.

Again, many thanks for all your responses and advice. These forums certainly made a huge difference and helped me along the way.

Cheers. :D :D :D :D Jason.