Today I managed to sell more knives than I bought, even though I was very close to buying a couple.
Today was the Japan Knife Guild annual show. As has become tradition/habit/syndrome, I met my Canadian friend and we spent time roaming around the show. It was one of the best shows we’ve attended and we guess that 85% of the tables had something that made us pause and think rather seriously about finances and financing.
Before we started roaming around, though, I sold him four knives I no longer wanted. I’ve sold him other knives, too, which kind of makes me his dealer. (More on that later.)
One of the things about collecting knives (well, anything actually) is the way your interests change and escalate. You start off with a couple cheap knives and mock anyone who spends more than $50 on a knife. You tell yourself the $10 knife you have does everything you need and it couldn’t do more if it cost more.
Then you see a $60 knife you like and buy it. You tell yourself the knife has everything you need and the money you spent is worth it. And, hey, the better steel actually holds an edge longer than your $10 knife. The crazy people are those who spend more than $100 dollars on a knife.
However, every time you break a $50 dollar mark, it resets you to the next highest $50 mark. This means that, all of a sudden, $100 doesn’t seem that unreasonable because it lets you try better steels and handle materials. This continues to escalate until you’re looking at $1,200 custom flippers made from Damascus steel, Zirconium and Timascus and thinking “Well, it’s only $100 more than the last one I bought so that’s not too bad.”
The problem is, at that point, knives cease to be tools and become jewelry. Are you going to cut apart a cardboard box with your $1,200 handmade knife or your $50 mass-produced one? Are you really going to take a $1,200 knife camping or hunting even if it’s called the XYZ Hunter Flipper? I admire you if you do, but I doubt you will.
In my case, my purchases didn’t escalate that far, although they did escalate. As I’ve said before, as a form of tithing, I decided to buy knives from small makers, some of them just starting out in the business. This drove up the price substantially. I also, however, acquired some used from small makers I admire.
My most expensive knife, for the record, also included a stake in the company. (Disclosure: I don’t get dividends from all sales, only from sales of limited edition knives I choose not to buy. I also have the option to sell the stake, which is represented by the first limited edition knife.)
As for my friend, he also ended up not buying anything, although he plans to order one for his father. The only thing he bought was my four unwanted knives.
This purchase surprised me, though, because after buying a good quality fixed blade knife a couple shows ago, he swore off cheap knives, or as he calls them “crap knives” and has decided to focus on high quality makers.
Luckily for him, I also happen to have a couple of those around.