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Old tradition about giving knives as a gift

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Foilist, May 3, 2005.

  1. Foilist


    Dec 20, 2004
    I seem to recall some old tradition or superstition about giving something in return when receiving a knife as a gift. Does anyone know more about this, or am I imagining things?
  2. alleycat


    Apr 30, 2004
    I don't know much about the history of this belief but in Chinese culture the the same thing goes. The recipient of the gift knife is supposed to offer a gift or symbolic payment in return for the knife. I am curious about what other cultures have this belief and where they come from.
  3. Mentor


    Nov 27, 2004
    As I understand it, superstition states that you should give someone a coin when they give you a knife. I've heard two reasons for this. The first says that it is to ensure that the knife doesn't cut the owner; the second reason, which I've heard more often, is that it is to ensure that the knife does not cut the friendship between the giver and the recipient.

    I'm not sure of the origin of this superstition, and I'd love to know.

    All the best,

  4. cmd


    Feb 7, 2004
    The last knife I gave was an Opinel #9 that I shaped for left hand use.

    After many hours of careful work, I gave it to my father who returned something even more valuabe in return. His smile.

    Traditions are nice.

    trane fan likes this.
  5. Mikjk


    Oct 31, 2003
    in the Korean culture (different from Chinese, but close), when i knife is given as a gift, a coin is given by the receiver to the giver, so as not to cut any ties between each other. Mentor has it right, at least for me. i still abide by this custom as do my other Korean friends... usually it's just a penny that is exchanged. :D
  6. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    I always trade or when I do give I try to include a coin of some kind with the knife. But not sure where the tradition came from.
  7. S2nd


    Oct 6, 2004
    Another leg of the Chinese superstition is that if the recipient at any point down the line cuts themself with the knife, they'll think of you, and this seeds bad feelings. This goes for any sharp object given as a gift. By having the recipient give you a coin, it turns it into a financial transaction, even though logically, you wouldn't sell someone a knife for one penny. I adhere loosely to this custom by stringing a penny to the package and having them give it to me.

    Of course, with the massive collections some of you have, you'd forget who gave you any one particular knife :D.
  8. wetdog1911


    Sep 29, 2002
    I was going to give my future son in law a Guinguard Bowie and carved leather sheath, but now I'm not so sure. He may try to give me my daughter back! LOL

  9. badjujuboy


    Dec 21, 2004
    When I was growing up my dad always made me give him a penny when he gave me a knife. (who was going to argue with an old Guadalcanal Marine).
    It had to do with "not cutting the bond of friendship".
    He's gone but the tradition carries on! :)
    I also read about it in an old copy (mid 90's) of Blade magazine . I'll see if I can find it in stack of mags I have.
    Semper Fi
  10. WadeF


    Apr 12, 2000
    I think my Grandfather gave away a ton of knives to friends and I don't recall him ever asking for a penny. :)
  11. metallicat


    Apr 3, 2004
    All I know is that I was told it's bad luck to give a knife as a gift or an empty wallet.
  12. djolney


    Oct 5, 2004
    In central and eastern Europe you are supposed to give the person who gives you a knife a coin straight away. If you don't (according to my Grand Mother and a couple of my friends Grand Mothers) you are likely to cut your self badly with the knife.
  13. Mikjk


    Oct 31, 2003
    wow, the tradition of giving a coin is pretty wide spread! crosses all cultural boundries it seems. i too would be interested in exactly where this tradition started.


    Dec 8, 2003
    The practise of giving a coin in return for a knife is practised in many countries throughout Europe and Asia as well as here in Australia. The knife does not have to be a gift as such - an old friend of mine found a few old butchers knives in the shed which he passed on to me so I had to give him a coin in return so as not to cut the friendship . A similar tradition exists with the giving of a purse of wallet as a gift the giver must include a coin in the purse or wallet to ensure good wealth.
  15. Larry S.

    Larry S.

    Mar 31, 2002
    By far the most interesting post I've read involving an Opinel.:cool: :cool: :cool:
  16. Franciscomv


    Feb 7, 2005
    In Argentina, if you give somebody a knife he has to give you a coin. It's a widely spread tradition that almost everybody follows.
    We have a few more:
    If you give somebody a knife holding it by the blade and offering the handle, you are supossed to be showing your good will. On the other hand, if you present the gift holding it by the handle and offering the edge (even if it's sheathed), it's a sign of defiance.

    Dreaming about knives is a bad omen (too bad, this happens to me quite often).

    If you stab a man to death, and leave his corpse face up, the crime will be speedily solved.

    A man stabbed with a dagger that has no guard (called "cross" in my country), will have no peace in his afterlife. This was taken quite seriously, guard-less daggers were very common "payback" weapons.

    A knife that was lost for some reason, and then appeared out of nowhere would only be used for leather working, and if it had rust it would not be completely cleaned. Even today, mi "soguería" (a kind of traditional leather working) teacher and my older classmates use old knives, which long ago lost their original shape, they all have some kind of story about where they found them.
  17. Merek


    Sep 24, 2004
    How would the old Chinese 'knife coins' work into this? :confused:
  18. S2nd


    Oct 6, 2004
    I imagine they would have just let it go as money, but the first thing I pictured was two people continually handing coins to each other :D
  19. fruitbat


    Dec 17, 2003
    I remember a while back there was another thread about this same thing. No one new where it came from.

    The other knife superstition that I've heard is that it's bad luck the close a knife you didn't open.

    I'm not superstitous, but I do try to follow them just for fun.
  20. nick681

    nick681 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 22, 1999
    I also do give a coin for a knife is one is proffered as a gift. Also I kind of expect a coin if I give a knife to some one. In fact I carry in my wallet the coins I recived from a medic buddy of mine when I gave him a couple of knives. The are just some old German pfennigs and a quarter, but every time I go through my wallet looking for something I come across these coins and think of the transaction. :)


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