Today all the aforementioned outlets for custom knives still exist. However, it is the Internet’s availability and ease of use that makes finding knives quicker by simply doing an Internet search. Prior to the Internet there were collector to collector sales, but it was the Internet that transformed a process that previously could have taken weeks or months into a process that would take hours…maybe minutes. The speed at which information could be obtained changed not only the way many custom knife buyers approached buying custom knives, but the speed at which the knives they were buying had the potential for appreciation. Now many collectors include a maker’s potential or actual ROI (Return On Investment) in their buying decision. Today, because of the speed at which some custom knives can appreciate in value; many collectors now range from those who at least consider makers knives performance in the aftermarket to borderline investors.
We all know that collectors of anything love to talk to other collectors of a like item. This was not lost on some of the more tech savvy collectors. Subsequently, Internet forums for knife collectors and their sub-set custom knife collectors were given a place to discuss knives. It was on these forums that previously unknown or little-known makers rose to the level of “Most Wanted” in just a few short months. Along with creating the newest “Hot” maker, the active hunt for ROI by collectors was born.
There are two scenarios with the “Hot” makers. The first scenario has a custom knife maker creating a particular style of knife that the “forumites” love. Usually the knife is offered at a price well below the market. The maker in a very short period of time receives 50 plus orders for this knife. The maker is on cloud nine as they have more orders than they have ever had before. Generally, the maker is a part time maker and soon realizes that he has just received 1 – 2 years’ worth of orders. The maker has fallen into the forumites trap without even realizing it. The maker loves the buzz they are getting on the forum as those who are awaiting the knife love to talk about it. Ultimately the knives arrive to the lucky first buyers. The next group of knives are coming out as fast as the maker can produce them. Somewhere during this second group is where the maker gets their first surprise. Those who received the knives first have noticed that there are those who are willing to pay a premium in the aftermarket for the knife. Example, the collector who received number 6 hears from number 48 on the list asking if the collector wants to sell. A deal is struck and number 48 now has the knife. Usually number 48 doesn’t take the time to let the maker know that they are no longer interested in the knife. This type of transactions coupled with the maker taking too long for the fast-paced high energy forumites who decided that they are no longer interested in that knife. As the next “Hot” maker emerges. What happens is that many of those waiting for knives decide to spend their money on the next “Hot” knife maker’s latest fare. Again, (in many cases) not telling the maker that they no longer want the knife they had on order. Ultimately, due to the extended delivery times the maker ends up with knives that are not going to be paid for. The knives they are left with are “old news” and no longer sought after. In many cases previously owned knives from the “Hot” maker can be found for sale at a loss on the very same forum. Note to custom knife makers reading this…always contact the buyer BEFORE you start the knife!
The second scenario is similar except the maker is even more of a part time maker…generally 20 knives a year or less. This scenario is where the “Appreciation” is for those who can identify a maker and/or their knives early on that will have mass appeal. As with the first scenario the knives are considered to be a “deal”. Everyone knows that very few of these knives will be available drives the aftermarket price up to 8 times the retail price. Eventually, the price becomes too high and collectors refocus what will be the next knife they want and return to the hunt for the next “Hot” maker. Two items of note in this scenario; first, the maker only receives the initial sales price for the knife. Second, it is because of the first item that a maker can step on to the slippery slope. That is using the aftermarket price to justify a huge retail price increase. Those makers who chose to do this will unknowingly limit their knife career. As eventually the aftermarket price will come down and will leave the maker trying to sell knives for more money than the market will bear.
Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 650-0252.