You don’t become a knife collector by having just any kind of knife. Someone with a good 1918 trench knife can even be considered a collector over another knife user with 10 CRKT knives.
So, what makes a knife collector, how many knives do you need to become a knife collector, what knives are worth collecting, and more?
In this piece, I take you through everything you need to know – especially the knives that every collector worth their salt should own.
How about we get started?
What Knives Are Worth Collecting?
Let’s start with what brought you here in the first place.
Here are some of the knives that you should plan on having in your collection, among others.
#1 The Swiss Army Knife
Every Swiss Army Knife that you come across is most likely mass-produced which is not something that we look for on collector items. However, these knives have been here for so long and have a beautiful story to tell too.
I am not for going all out to buy older models that made it to one war or the other. You could get a new one that was minted yesterday and I wouldn’t mind.
Owning a swiss army knife boils down to paying homage to one of the longest-standing folding knife brands in the world as well as the top quality that they come with.
If you have always wondered what makes a swiss army knife different from the conventional folding pocket knife, look at this comparison guide to put those matters to rest.
#2 Schrade Old Timer Knives
Now that we are getting more serious, let’s look at some of the older knives to make the market.
The Schrade knives have been here for so many decades and their knives are still in great shape. While some knives are still made under the Schrade name today, getting any of those newbies won’t make you closer to being a collector. Look for the oldies, which is where the gold lies.
You can also get the Uncle Henry knife from Schrade if you want but you don’t get the same appeal as you would with an Old Timer. If you happen to have an Old Timer, or you want to know what models there are, look at this comprehensive Schrade Old Timer dating guide to get started.
#3 Buck 110 Hunter
Buck knives enjoy the appeal of being ‘Made in USA’ knives so they are considered premium and of high quality. On top of that, these knives are truly well made with quality craftsmanship, so they don’t just ride the popularity of where they are made to sell.
Add that to the fact that these knives have been here for over 50 years now, and you see why they are a gem to own. Coupled with the knowledge that Buck knives made a statement in the hunting knives market of that time, it is worth having a true classic like this one to call your own.
#4 The Ka-bar knife
While I have discussed why the Ka-bar knife might be considered illegal in some regions, I have also written a guide to identifying the fakes and dating a real Kabar knife too.
Newer brands are coming up with their own Ka-bar knife models today. I don’t have anything against them but there is nothing quite like holding and using the original thing.
These knives went to war and came back. They did not just go, but they served American troops so well that they had a cult following behind them, on the account of how reliable they are.
Not all tools go to war and come back to tell the story. From the end of WWII, original Ka-bars are still around and they don’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Try to lay hands on one and you would understand why I’ve been going on and on about them.
#5 Esee Izula
I love the Esee knife series so much. Maybe even a little too much. Of these, the Esee Izula stands out.
Anyone that has heard me talk bout the Esee knives knows that I am partial to either the Esee 3 or 4, but the Izula is the one that stands out as being worthy of a collector’s item. Or, maybe an accumulator (more on that below).
This knife is yet to see three decades but it has already sold more than 100,000 units. That is neither due to the genius of its marketing alone nor the hype around the knife, but the quality that it brings to the table.
While your Esee Izula does not earn a seat among the classics just yet, it is a fine one to have on hand. If you want an older knife that is built for everyday tasks, that is.
#6 Randall knife
The Randall knives are a dying breed and it’s getting increasingly difficult to get one today.
Imagine, in this time and age, a knife that is:
- Forged by hand;
- Only trusted to a few blacksmiths who have been forging such knives for years;
- Still uses premium handle materials like stag;
- Comes with one of the finest blades; and
- Takes an average of 3-5 years to get your order, among other things.
This knife will only become scarcer and its value will go up. The fact that they are hand-forged from quality materials, instead of undergoing mass production, promises you that the knife will last for years to come.
To you, it is an expensive Randall knife that you bought now. To your kids who will get this fine knife passed down to them, it is a functional family heirloom that they can also pass on. Think about that.
PS When picking the Randall knife, you can go with just about anyone. If you’d like truly iconic pieces, check out the magical appeal of the #1, #14, or #18 models.
#7 Sebenza by Chris Reeves
You have probably heard this a million times before, but every other folding knife out there will always be pitted against the Chris Reeves Knife (CRK) Sebenza when it comes down to it.
These knives have held their own in the market for decades and they continue to turn heads wherever they go today. Even if they aren’t “the fit” for you, you would still notice the buttery smooth feel, the comfortable finish, magnificent craftsmanship, and how everything just seems to snap into place.
While Chris himself is not around anymore to spearhead the making of these knives, the company continues to follow the recipe that he has laid down for success. The new models are also fine but always try to find an old one if you have the means.
#8 Whatever else catches your fancy
Your collection needs to have a personal touch of, at least, one knife that catches your fancy.
You will know it when you see it because it is:
- That knife you feel you must have;
- That knife you don’t mind splashing some good money on;
- That knife whose resale value you don’t worry about; and
- That knife that gets you most excited when it is shipping to you.
In a lot of cases, this won’t be a knife that everyone would consider a true collector’s item. I say they don’t define how your collection should go, so have fun with the choices.
As long as you don’t pick up something cheap/ highly mass-produced/ shipped from China or related regions, you are good to go.
Are You A Knife Collector or An Accumulator?
Some true knife enthusiasts know the difference between collectors and accumulators. No true collector ever thought that they were an accumulator but there are a lot of accumulators who think that they are collectors.
So, what’s the difference?
- Knife collector – Knife collectors go for the truly vintage and classic knives that have stood the test of time. Collectors don’t deal with knives that have spent a few years or decades but usually go close to several decades and even centuries.
- Knife accumulator – A knife accumulator is usually just fascinated by knives and wants so much of them. There is no preference to what kinds of knives they accumulate, although they might add the vintage or classic piece once in a while. A knife accumulator would not mind modern-day folders and other kinds of knives in their collection.
There is nothing wrong with being a knife collector or accumulator. There is also a saying that every knife collector has their passions and needs which dictates what they go for.
If you are an accumulator, though, try and check out some of the vintage pieces too. They will help you appreciate fine blades better, brush up your knife history and expose you to a whole new realm of the knife world that you so love.
How Many Knives Do You Need to Be Considered A Collector?
Anywhere from 2.
One quality knife is just something you stumbled on. Two quality classics, on the other hand, are the start of a collection.
As explained above, though, that you have more knives than the next guy does not make you a better collector over them – or even a collector at all. If someone were to have an original Kissing crane knife and a genuine Barlow knife too, they are a better collector than someone else with 20 modern pocket knives and swiss army knives.
Most true collectors go over the ten-knife mark, having some that they can use in the home, some they take around as an EDC, and others that just sit in glass cases.
Some humorous anecdotes to know when you have become a collector include:
- When you have more knives than pockets;
- When you start having knives that you know will never get used;
- When you have at least two more knives than you need;
Choose any one of those that convince you enough and run with it.