Perhaps the one constant over the time for making a custom knife appreciate is what I call the “Super Collector.” However, the Internet posed a “double edged” quandary for many of the “Super Collectors.” Simultaneously allowing them better access to the knives they collect and removing most, if not all, of their anonymity. The “Super Collectors” are willing to pay (in some cases) a very hefty premium to get the latest knife from their favorite maker. For those lucky enough to get one of the knives the “Super Collectors” want will have an opportunity to make a very tidy profit.
Appreciation in the value of a custom knife is the result of a symbiotic relationship between the custom knife maker and the custom knife collector. Like every other economic endeavor, the law of supply and demand exists in the custom knife market. The custom knife makers create the knives and the collectors reward the maker for their efforts by buying the knives. As the maker’s reputation grows their position in their market(s) improves. This results in an increase in the demand for their work. This demand will create a price premium in the aftermarket. As discussed previously this affect can create a slippery slope for the maker should they choose to use the aftermarket prices to set their prices.
For a very small percentage of makers and generally reserved for the very top in their particular style(s). The aftermarket starts to disappear as current knives go to a very select group of collectors. This is followed by the elimination of advertising (if there was any) and limited attendance at knife shows. When this maker does attend a particular show, there is generally one piece on the table and it; of course, has been pre-sold. To make matters worse, after the knife is delivered the maker is off to spend time with makers, collectors, friends, etc. Consequently, for the majority of the show, the maker is absent except for perhaps a photo or two on the table.
The maker who takes this path is doing their collector base a disservice. It is important for those makers with a great collector base, to continue introducing themselves to new collectors. This allows those collectors who were there at the beginning to sell some earlier pieces to help fund their next purchase. Allowing the makers work to continue to pass into more collectors’ hands; while at the same time continuing to show collectors that their work holds and/or actually increases in value. Failure to do this will signal that the maker has hit a plateau. Ultimately, signaling their collectors to sell; as their prices have peaked. The maker will continue to sell their knives however; their position in the market(s) will start to erode. This continued erosion will result in newer collectors who will have never heard of them.
The 5th and final part will discuss how both makers and collectors can help custom knives appreciate in the 21st Century.
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.