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Why are Buck collectors different?

Discussion in 'Buck Knives' started by Plumberdv, Aug 16, 2012.

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  1. Plumberdv


    Sep 26, 2008
    I’ve been wondering about this subject for a while now and thought I’d throw it out here.

    Why are Buck collectors different than most other types of collectors? From my experience with my small gun collection, having an original gun refurbished, refinished and things like that, ruins the collector value of it. Why doesn't the same apply to Buck knives?

    Example, I have my Dad’s sweet little Winchester model 62A purchased before 1954, probably in the late 40’s that was given to me by my Mom after Dad passed away. It’s well used and although it’s in pretty good shape, we decided to see about having it restored to as new condition. I took it to an old time gunsmith and Winchester collector, but he said no way, and to leave it as is. Not that I’d ever sell it, but he told me it would cut the value in half if I had it “restored”.

    I also see on the pawn shop and picker shows on TV, where original is best and refurbished or restored nearly always brings a lower price. One exception to that seems to be auto's but that's a different story I think.

    Why is it different with Buck knives?? It seems as though the norm when someone finds a vintage or antique Buck in somewhat less than pristine condition and shows it off here, the first (or maybe the second) thing recommended is a trip to Buck for a spa job which doesn't seem to affect it's value and may even increase it for some.

    I’m not sure that I understand the difference between Bucks and other collectables. Any thoughts?? :confused:
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  2. DeSotoSky

    DeSotoSky Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    I think professional restoration can sometimes increase the value of items. It very much depends on the item, the nature of the restoration and who is doing it. To use your firearm example, the average gunsmith restoration may not help the value, but send it to someone with the caliber of say Turnbull Restorations and the value will definately not be hurt and probably increased. In my family, great great grandfathers Winchester is very rare. My brother had the rifle restored by Turnbull and currently it's on loan to the NRA firearms museum. On the Antiques Roadshow I have sometimes heard them tell people with who have an item with a condition issues that the value of the item will be increased if they have the issue corrected by a professional conservator.

    I view my Buck Knife collection as being an "Art Collection". That viewpoint influences not only the type of knife I buy but also the condition. I want my knives to look as good as possible, ie "displayable". If you search "Buck Knife" on eBay you will get over 8,000 hits, Buck knives from the mid 70's and newer are not rare so there is no reason to buy a knife with condition issues. I'll bet 95% of my collection for modern Bucks is NIB or As New. For earlier Bucks, scarcity and value has become an issue. Assuming you could find it, any very early Buck knife in unused condition will be too expensive for me. Then I'll take the more affordable lesser condition knife with the hopes of the Spa treatment improving it's displayablilty, and displayability increases its value to me. Buck's Spa treatment is certainly affordable and it's also "factory", if that means anything. Is there someone else out there who can do just as good or better job than the factory? I've never seen any discussion on that and if there is I would love to know who.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  3. st8yd


    Mar 6, 2009
    That is the case with most antiques and some feel that way with Bucks, and want to keep it in untouched condition, and to some that holds a greater value.
    When you send a Buck in for a spa job it just gets cleaned up, polished up, and not much changes. But with your dad's Winchester, you don't just run it across the buffer and all's well. It has to have the blueing stripped and re-blued, the stamps will likely be knocked down and not as crisp, and there's a good chance it won't be done as good as factory. The stock would have to have the finish stripped off, depending on how bad of shape it is it may require sanding the wood down more than desired, once again making it obvious it's not as original. But there are plenty out there that can put more care in to it than the factory.
    So if the gun is in pretty good shape I wouldn't mess with it. But if it's pretty rough it's value may not be very high anyway and then I would want it properly refinished. Sometimes there is also a lot of character in a well taken care of old gun, and if its new and shiny it just has a different feel.

    And that beg's another question that was brought up not long ago. If Buck polishes it up what truly is the difference between it coming off the buffer the day they made it or 20yrs later.

    To me when something is made with a metal not requiring an applied finish it is typically meant to, or it's purpose to look shiny and pretty so why wouldn't you want it that way 20yrs later, I do.
  4. st8yd


    Mar 6, 2009
    DeSoto good anwer I guess I was typing as you were or I woudn't have bothered posting, as we had similar sentiments.
    But I have seen plenty of guys on this forum do as good a job polishing and restoring as the Buck factory although probably not as cheap as the Buck spa.
  5. AfghanWarrior


    Feb 3, 2012
    I think because Buck Knife collectors are older and more mature! More respectful and knowledgeable on the forums. :thumbup:
  6. mbjannusch


    Apr 1, 2010
    Well, This is definitely a question that has come up before, although not in recent conversations. I have had knives cleaned up. In saying that, My next comment is for Desoto. The Buck Factory does good work, but they are far from the level of expertise as Leeroy Remer. Leeroy is an old school Pro and if you don't know him, he started the Custom Shop for Buck when they were in San Diego. The difference with newer knives (late 60s-present) is that when you clean them up, they look as if they just came out of the factory. The problem is when you find that old knife (mid 60s-1945) is that back then the materials weren't as good. The aluminum was porous, and if you see pin holes in the pommel and you think that if you send it in for a spa job it will all be ok. ONly a true professional knows when to quite and leave well enough alone. That pin hole can turn into a huge pit that can't be fixed. On an old knife you dont want to rune it the second you get it. Sometime it's better to just leave it alone. There is the school of thought that cleaning up your knives runes the working history of the knife. Men in the 40s, 50s, and 60s usually didn't have the money to buy a knife just for the collector value, they really used the tools they bought, and used them hard. Its all up to the collector though, six of one half a dozen of the other...IMO
  7. 300Bucks

    300Bucks Moderator Moderator

    Apr 19, 2005
    Fellows, Let me present my feelings or opinions actually.

    The "don't touch the finish on the collectable" is valid in knife collecting also. I see three levels of Buck nuts presented here, even at shows and while talking to other "knife" folks. I see us in three groups.

    1. The "I like nice knives and want several but plan to use them all, but some less frequently" person.
    2. The "I like lots of different nice knives, want to handle them frequently, keep them out where I can see them and use or carry some of them, show them to friends in person and by photo" collector person.
    3. The "collector", who wants them in original packaging, edge not touched after leaving factory, no or few marks of the blade being opened on the tang, all paperwork in undamaged form, patina of age not removed unless displayed to peers at an special event or by photograph and then only after carefull consideration. This person likely puts the value of 'pristine' above all else.

    Some of us have a foot in two groups.

    I wish everything I've got was number 3 but in all honesty only about 05% is. BUT, to answer Dave's original question. I think most of us here on the fourm are number 1, 2's or a few pushing it to 2.5's. Thats why we clean and polish lots of our knives, at least in house. I have a few knives in boxes I never touch, I likely have had some 15 years and never have looked in the box since stacking them in the gunsafe. I have a set of display 300s that may have some box/papers but likely do not. Some are sharpened and some are not. After that I have a few extras that don't see much handling, but are handy for research or trade. Also consider that having Buck work over a 303 is somewhat less of a gut wrenching personal experience than say a nice or old fancy bladed110 is. But, someone might like shiny 305s or 500s so I am glad they can get them done. I am glad you guys enjoy doing that to your big knives cause it makes for nice photos to look at. I have a stag 112 that may go in some day. But, you won't see me sending in any old , near pristine, 300s for a Hollywood makeover....I am counting on a 'collector number 3' to buy them someday.......
    Not soon, so don't ask, unless you just won the lottery........300
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  8. bucksforus

    bucksforus Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    I for my self have some knives in different state of conditions. If it is NIB, I want it to look like it just came from the factory all shiney and looking fresh. In my opinion what difference does it make if it is not touched and dull looking finish, compared to polished up and looking new. If slightly used, I want it to be cleaned and sanitary to use. It doesn't need to be all shiny and unused. I base my wants on what I plan to use the knife or tool for---display or use some of the time. If I ever get ready to sell one, I think there is a buyer for it. It might bring more in another condition than what condition my item is in. I bought it for my enjoyment, not for resale. I know that I am NOT a well versed collector, just a collector of what I enjoy. There is all types of collectors, buyers out there in this ole world, and If I ever decide to part with some of my collection I just hope there is a buyer looking for something in the same type condition mine are in. Most of the knife collecting books I have looked at, tell you to buy what you like,and do not plan on making a profit on it. I know everyone here wishes to at least get their money back if they decide to sell at a later time.
    Enjoy your hobby, addiction. LOL.
  9. BG42EDGE

    BG42EDGE Banned BANNED

    Nov 6, 2009
    The Buck knives are like the old cars.......who wants a rusted old junker?

    I want it SHARP......fixed up, shined up, and ready to roll.

    Gleaming is the only way to roll.

  10. imafritz


    Dec 30, 2008
    I gotta go along with 300-saves me from all that typing.

    I have seen the Buck DVD and it appears the original clean and polish of a brand new 110 isnt all that different from the spa and thus the knives turn out looking about the same.
  11. jb4570

    jb4570 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 26, 2005
    Well Dave,

    As Craig said....I'm a group II....I guess...LOL. Well kinda, at one point I was grabbing up some old used 110's & 112's with the thought that I would send them to get a face lift one day. Then as I had them on display, another thought hit me, what if they could talk, what tails they could share. All of the dings, dents, and scratch's were already telling part of that story. So, other than rubbing off the tarnish I have left them as is. Any way, some of them have very well used blades and would be a waste of time doing a spa on them IMHO.
    Now, I did send in one old gold etch that was an auction find and used. Joe & his team fixed a bent tip, took out the scratch's & bolster dings and sent her back.....sweet!
  12. sitflyer

    sitflyer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    300, I really like the way you broke that down into categories.
    I used to consider myself a collector, UNTILL I started seeing the organization, dedication, and professionalism that you true collectors exhibit into your displays. I'm solidly in group 2, with but a few NIB rarities that I will never use and handle on rare occasions.
    As for sprucing them up, I have a few older, scarcer models that have signs of use that I wouldn't touch ever. They are character marks and were honestly gained from use.
    Newer models, no problemo, I'll sand and buff them to look new again, or send them to Buck if I feel it's over my head.

    I think with Buck collectors especially, this practice seems OK, because Buck is so forthright in offering its spa treatment, and especially since Buck has always used Stainless steel...other brand collectors fawn over the patina of the steel and springs etc, which is not a factor with Buck's Stainless Steel construction. Just a thought that I hadn't seen mentioned...
  13. mbjannusch


    Apr 1, 2010
    I can't say that I agree with 300, No offence Craig. I have no intention on using any of my collection, but there is no way in heck anybody at any level of collecting is going to find a 1940s, or 50s knife in NIB quality, if they even had boxes back then (I don't think so). The chances of that are rare to say the least. I don't care to show off my collection very often. On occasion I'll post an interesting picture. I don't think I fit into any of the 3 groups 300 has listed. There are some collectors that frequent this forum that dont show off any of their collection, a collection that would have most of us have an accident in our shorts. What I can say is there is a vast difference in every collector, their ideas and philosophy on collecting. What ever makes you happy.
  14. mbjannusch


    Apr 1, 2010
    I have sat down and tried to answer this question about 3 times now, and every time it turns into a long drawn out explanation that goes on and on, this is a hard question. I stood out side and watered my tomatoes and peppers and thought it over. The only thing I can think of is, that there isn't a rock solid grading system in place to compare to. We hear terms such as, New In the Box, Mint, excellent condition, Unused, Un-sharpened, As new, but there isn't a point system, such as the one used in coin collecting. If there was a grading system, I think we would have a whole bunch of unhappy collectors. I think everybody wants to have that NIB quality knife when it really isn't. We as collectors have to make the determination as to what is ideal.

    The other thing I can think of is Industry Standard. We as collectors like the shiny new condition a knife would have come out of the factory looking like. We have brought up collectables that would loose there value if refurbished, but lets consider an old car. If you find a rusted out '57 Chevy its going to be substantially less than if it was restored to the way it looked when it rolled off of the line. We as collectors create the industry standard, that being a shiny new looking knife...
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  15. 300Bucks

    300Bucks Moderator Moderator

    Apr 19, 2005
    Matt, Your at least a 2 1/4 if not a 2.5. I doubt the old 113s, i.e. life boat knives, had a box. But, if you or I found one in decent shape we would carefully "clean" the dirty parts and we would call it near mint, lightly carried, sharpened once or whatever. We would know we had the TOP of the available heap, we would know they just don't come factory fresh because of what they are.............you start a collection(ing) with a purpose and with goal(s), an a grading system just naturally developes........and sometimes things about us change, like you getting the old straight knives, when you started here you didn't talk about them at all. Just like I gave up getting 112s and sold most of them and mostly (try) stay out of 112 discussions..
    Things change as time goes on. Right now I would be happy to just find a couple of 309s, that are special but not pretty or valuable. Somebody was sick one day on the factory line and the someone else failed to grind the reverse nail nic in the back scale. So they made several (hundred) that day that went out and because a couple other top collectors have them and we put them on the semi-offical list I need to get one. Mint, sharpened, scratched it doesn't matter, its part of my goal to just get one, it doesn't have to be mint or have a box because it is so rare.....but for sure I'm a 2.5 in the least because I would pay extra if it was in a correct box with good papers. But would take far less at this point.

    In the end to answer Dave's actual question, I don't think Buck collectors are different people, I think collecting Buck knives makes us all different. Its the knives that change us.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  16. bucksway


    Jan 7, 2007
    When I started collecting in 2008 I was going for ONLY NIB investment 'factory' 112's...That changed quick! The rare/odd/1of1/proto direction I went for means 60% or so of the 112's I find and display [and can afford] are NOT NIB...Some of the more rare and interesting knives are lightly used and I am lucky and glad to have found one.I really like a lot of other models tho and to get a new one to EDC or just play with [think Pigsticker] it does not matter if its less than perfect or has a box..
  17. wolfdog


    Oct 4, 2009
    Unless a knife has specific historic value, like Abraham Lincoln's pocket knife that he carried the night he was killed, restoration I believe is best because it originally was and is a functional item. This is a question I faced daily as a book restorationist. If you are going to use it at its original purpose, by all means restore. If you are going to display it, it depends on its specific historical value. You would not want to fully restore, but you would want to preserve and conserve a journal written by a pioneer who went across on the Oregon Trail. LIkewise may be true for an H.H. Buck original or an original 110 first version.
  18. mbjannusch


    Apr 1, 2010
    I haven't heard an answer to the original question yet, People are giving reasons why they do whatever it is that they do. The question begs for a more narrow explanation. Are Buck Collectors different than other knife collectors. I don't know, I don't collect other brand knives, but there are some out there that do and need to speak up. Maybe the question needs to be addressed to an appraiser of knives, such as Levine. Maybe it does affect the value and we are all fools, myself included. Let try to compare apples to apples, because the broad spectrum of "Collecting" is way to vast.
  19. sitflyer

    sitflyer Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    1.Buck has the Spa Treatment, and openly offers it.
    2.Buck has used Stainless Steel for most of its knives, hence no Patina on blades or springs.
    For me these two points pretty much sums it up.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  20. 300Bucks

    300Bucks Moderator Moderator

    Apr 19, 2005
    Matt is correct on the question. But Dave I am sorry, after making other comments and thinking on it several days now I really have no answer that is concrete. All I can say is Buck knife people are different because they like Buck knives. Its the knife and who makes it and how its made that makes the difference. Doesn't have a thing to do with all of us. Other than we like Buck knives.....300
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