5. The Truth Changes
Over the course of custom knife makers’ careers, some will emerge as the market leaders. As demand increases, so does the delivery time; and deservedly so, the price of the custom knife. Collectors, by their very nature, collect. If they cannot collect a maker or their work, they will look for a suitable substitute. While getting a custom knife directly from the market leader will provide the buyer with an opportunity to sell the knife for a profit in a very short period of time. This demand by so many buyers will decrease your opportunity to obtain one of these knives.
As one door closes, another opens. The truth of this statement is evident today in the tactical folder market. Custom knives were purchased by many who were late to the game. Others just bought anything figuring there would be demand for this relatively unknown maker in the very near future creating for them a profit when they sold the knife. The lesson to be learned here is to do your homework before you buy the knife. While it is easier to listen to the forum “expert” or dealers, it is incumbent upon you to determine if they have the actual expertise they claim. Failing to do so may cost you money in the short or long run.
As some of the pioneers of tactical folders reach a position of a prolonged delivery time, makers like RJ Martin are moving to the forefront of that market. If you want to talk precision tactical folders, then you are talking RJ Martin. With RJ, the opportunity to purchase an investment grade knife from him presents itself every year as he adds a new model every year!
In the financial world there is a saying: “Never fall in love with a stock.” Doing so can cause you to miss an opportunity to sell. This happens routinely in the custom knife market. We all know someone who has bought a knife and now cannot get anywhere near what they paid for it, should they choose to sell it. Often the blame is put on the economy or the “so and so” who sold me the knife, etc. It is best to sell the knife and then; hopefully, not make the same mistake. You pay to go to school. Sell the knife, take the loss, and learn the lesson moving forward to the next knife.
What many call volatility, I call a “fluid” market; or if you like, the truth changes. If you pay attention to the totality of the market, it is easier to know which knives to buy and more importantly when to sell to maximize your ROI (return on investment.) Makers can get hot seemingly overnight. I have seen makers show one of their knives on the internet and within a few days they have 50, 60 even 70 orders for that knife! What the maker and the collectors forgot to take into account is that the maker does this part time. Once they take into account the orders already on the books, and the knives they need to make for shows, they will be lucky to build 20 of these knives each year. While the maker is happy to take the 60 orders, as the months turn into years, collectors start to forget they ordered the knife. Even worse, with yet another 30 to build, number 27 shows up on the internet being sold for under retail. One of those waiting in line decides that a pre-owned condition isn’t going to hurt anything and buys the knife. As other collectors see this many cancel their orders. The once hot knife and maker are no longer hot or in demand. The truth as everyone knew it 16 months ago has changed.
Investing and collecting custom knives are not mutually exclusive. They can work hand in hand to develop a collection that becomes an investment when the collection is sold. Even if you do not consider yourself an investor, following these five guidelines will enhance your collection and; ultimately, your enjoyment of custom knives, in general. If you are a collector in it to just enjoy the knives, it is much less complicated. Simply forget everything you’ve read so far. But remember, if you do decide to sell a knife down the road, forgetting what I have written here will cost you.
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.