Anthony Bourdain's custom Bob Kramer chef's knife going up for auction

Lorien

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Dec 5, 2005
Messages
20,662
The knife appears to have been used. I think that's very cool (assuming) that Bourdain used it and didn't lock it away. I sometimes wonder what a maker thinks about making a fine and capable tool, especially a high-end piece, that may very well spend its life sitting on a shelf or in a safe. That's an odd but interesting quandary to me, and I recall it being a subject that had quite a bit of division once when Lorien decided to put a very nice piece to use that had been the subject of a WIP thread. (A Wheeler I think it was Lorien?)

I watched that Raw Craft series a while back. I thought it was really good, even being just the short segments. If you liked that one on Kramer, the others are worth checking out as well.

the topic you mentioned could be discussed all day long and probably has been a topic for conversation for many hundreds of years.

from the perspective of a knife maker, it may or may not be preferable to see your knives 'used'. It really depends on how one approaches the craft. A knife maker who is regarded as a top tier Art Knife guy will probably see the issue very differently than a knife maker who is regarded as a top tier Performance Knife guy.

when I say 'used', that's exactly what I mean. Some think that simply having a knife is using it, often noting that admiring a knife falls under the definition of use. Personally, I don't think that rationale or justification is necessary, and I think in some cases could be insulting to some. That's what I've observed over the years, so I'll make it clear in this post that my definition of 'use' means physically employing a tool for its intended purpose, based upon its design and form.

I personally enjoy using knives that are made to be used, so that's what I tend to acquire and design. But I also have a great respect for Art Knives and those who make them, and have a few that fall under that category, (not to say that they can't be used, they all have cutting edges...). The Art Knives I have do not get used, I just like having them around and generally score great deals on them, so regard them as investments.

in the case of the knife that Nick Wheeler made for me, it's a keeper. All the knives that I use are mine, in the sense that I'm unconcerned about their resale value since they will probably never be sold. A lot of that rides on the situation which led to the creation of the knife, and that is entirely dependent on the relationship that was built while the knife was being built.

in my view, using a knife maker's work for what it's intended for honours the maker an his or her work as much as placing that work in a display case and admiring it daily. It's different strokes for different folks, and I don't think anyone is more right with how they approach this pursuit individually.

I'll leave with an example which is pertinent to this thread, in regards to how I see things;

if I had a personal relationship with Bob Kramer, and he wanted to make a knife for me so bad he went out of his way to do so, I would honour that gesture by trying to use that knife every day.

if I did not have a personal relationship with Bob Kramer, and just really wanted one of his knives, I'd pay whatever it takes to get one and would probably want it to retain as much of its value as possible in the case I needed or wanted to resell it, and would likely not use it.
 

mb>

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2014
Messages
2,621
Lorien Lorien , I appreciate the thoughtful response. And when I think of use, it's in the same way you defined it.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
271
Why are they stretching it out over 3 weeks? Nothing all that interesting except for a couple of items. Are people going to ooh and aah over his 45 record collection or his duck press?

While many of the names Coop mentioned produce art knives. Only ones I've ever handled were Wolf's. Local Toronto show moved downtown at one time and I think his daughter's husband and brother or cousin from Italy produced art knives, but didn't get to see them.

Kramer is a tool knife. It's meant to be used (I assume), but most chef's that can afford one don't really chef anymore. They instruct other kitchen staff, so can't see them using one. For what Bob gets for them. He probably doesn't care whats done after they're sold

My father was a butcher for 55 years and although not a chef. I wonder what he would have thought about a $20,000 tool knife and how it would cut.

One of the knives he used (and it shows use) is a Nella Breaker knife. I use it now for slicing. Also left some other knifes and a cleaver, but only use this one. Wicked sharp.

Got a wait and see to the auction

DON
 

Joss

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,326
Bob Kramer's plain steel of choice is (was?) 52100, which is a user steel if there ever was one. It's a great choice for a chef's knife. I'm not sure damascus - much less meteorite damascus - can match 52100 in its raw characteristics. I assume it can be designed and heat treated to such a point that it is a very good user, but this is mostly a design & prestige choice (the meteorite damascus doesn't look different from other damascus. It's just more exclusive.)

Personally, I would have no problem using a 52100 Bob Kramer chef's knife. If I had a meteorite damascus Bob Kramer knife, it would stay in the display case (or I would sell it and buy 2 52100 knives...)

My dream chef's knife is a Bob Kramer 52100 10" western chef's blade on his Meiji, Jpz style handle.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Messages
3,070
I seem to remember watching a Bob Kramer video where he used cut up mattress springs to make a knife, but have been unable to find that video again. Does anyone here know about this video? Thanks. John
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
11,983
Lorien: Great succinct post on working users and admiration users. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

if resale was indifferent to usage, there would be a lot more working knives.

But, alas, knife resale value is not simply indifferent, it's FICKLE. Any carrying marks or cuts take their $ toll.

I have never once even seen a Kramer knife on the resale market to know whether usage hinders the value. Much.

Until now. And this is a revered celebrity usage, so it changes things.

Good thread.
 

on_the_edge

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
10,861
Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a knife maker--even an art knife maker--who openly discouraged the physical use of his/her knives? Certainly there are makers who encourage the use of their knives as useful tools, many of which still never get used due to any number of reasons (e.g. Bose & Fisk customs). The reason I ask is because, as Coop has pointed out, any use of or mark on a custom knife does tend to diminish its $ value in the eyes of prospective buyers, but I think such use can also increase the satisfaction and affection a user has for a particular custom knife, and thereby maintain (or maybe even increase) the "total utility" one derives from a knife. Would Warenski have been shocked and dismayed if someone had used the Gem of the Orient to open a water bill or would he have said, "Heck yes, that's what I'm talking about!"?
 

Joss

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,326
It really depends if we're talking about user grade or display knives. Sure, you can put a bullino engraved folder in your pocket with your keys and your pocket change but it's just a quick way to waste money. Using a Bob Kramer knife to prep food isn't the same thing as using the Gem of the Orient to pry open a can of paint... :) (Of course, Bob's recent offering has been moving away from user grade.)
 
Last edited:

mb>

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2014
Messages
2,621
Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a knife maker--even an art knife maker--who openly discouraged the physical use of his/her knives? Certainly there are makers who encourage the use of their knives as useful tools, many of which still never get used due to any number of reasons (e.g. Bose & Fisk customs). The reason I ask is because, as Coop has pointed out, any use of or mark on a custom knife does tend to diminish its $ value in the eyes of prospective buyers, but I think such use can also increase the satisfaction and affection a user has for a particular custom knife, and thereby maintain (or maybe even increase) the "total utility" one derives from a knife. Would Warenski have been shocked and dismayed if someone had used the Gem of the Orient to open a water bill or would he have said, "Heck yes, that's what I'm talking about!"?

Yeah, as I recall (and it has been a long time since I read it), in the thread I referenced, Nick was not in favor of making a user out of the knife/chopper he made for Lorien. It was that nice - presentation grade material and all. And for the record, I admired Lorien's choice. :)

I watched a documentary on one of the top Japanese sword smiths and his dwindling pool of apprentices struggling to make a living and keep the art alive in modern day Japan. The work they put into those katanas is mind blowing. Made me think of this topic...on steroids with ~$40K wall hangers.

Edit: I found the Wheeler discussion I referenced. This one also includes the link to the original WIP thread with over 700 posts. If any of this interests you, that WIP thread is pretty fantastic and worth a look.
https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/wheelers-steel-the-adventure-continues.847671/

Lorien, hope you don't mind me posting this. This subject seemed relevant to the Bourdain discussion, but if you deem it too off topic, I'll defer to your moderating gavel strike.:)
 
Last edited:

Dawkind

Platinum Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2000
Messages
11,060
I’m still trying to comprehend the “One could EASILY argue that kramer is by far the most well known ABS mastersmith in history. He's been on tons of tv shows, written about in every major national and some international publications, thousands of website profiles and mentions. He may not be the 'top dog' with the hardcore knife crowd, but there isn't a smith alive whosename/brand is more known than his.”

Seriously? I’ve collected knives and objects of all sorts for 50+ years and I’ve never seen him on “tons of TV shows” nor read about in “every national publication”....I guess I don’t sit around enough to watch “tons” of tv nor read any publication that has written about him....sorry.

Just heard of him a few years ago and never did buy into hype.....everyone and their brother are making kitchen knives these days.

All of the knives in our kitchen are ‘custom’ knives but I must have been waaaay ahead of this current fad, most of ours were made a Decade ago.

I used to watch Bourdain until he interjected his politics and conspiracy theories into his shows and then he became just another hack...
 

on_the_edge

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
10,861
Yeah, as I recall (and it has been a long time since I read it), in the thread I referenced, Nick was not in favor of making a user out of the knife/chopper he made for Lorien. It was that nice - presentation grade material and all. And for the record, I admired Lorien's choice. :)

I watched a documentary on one of the top Japanese sword smiths and his dwindling pool of apprentices struggling to make a living and keep the art alive in modern day Japan. The work they put into those katanas is mind blowing. Made me think of this topic...on steroids with ~$40K wall hangers.

Edit: I found the Wheeler discussion I referenced. This one also includes the link to the original WIP thread with over 700 posts. If any of this interests you, that WIP thread is pretty fantastic and worth a look.
https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/wheelers-steel-the-adventure-continues.847671/

Lorien, hope you don't mind me posting this. This subject seemed relevant to the Bourdain discussion, but if you deem it too off topic, I'll defer to your moderating gavel strike.:)
I will take a look at that WIP thread. Also, if you should happen to recall the name of that documentary, please post it. I'd be very interested in watching that. Thank you.
 

mb>

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2014
Messages
2,621
I will take a look at that WIP thread. Also, if you should happen to recall the name of that documentary, please post it. I'd be very interested in watching that. Thank you.

Here you go. This was on Amazon:

HN96Guq.jpg
 

Lorien

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Dec 5, 2005
Messages
20,662
Yeah, as I recall (and it has been a long time since I read it), in the thread I referenced, Nick was not in favor of making a user out of the knife/chopper he made for Lorien. It was that nice - presentation grade material and all. And for the record, I admired Lorien's choice. :)

I watched a documentary on one of the top Japanese sword smiths and his dwindling pool of apprentices struggling to make a living and keep the art alive in modern day Japan. The work they put into those katanas is mind blowing. Made me think of this topic...on steroids with ~$40K wall hangers.

Edit: I found the Wheeler discussion I referenced. This one also includes the link to the original WIP thread with over 700 posts. If any of this interests you, that WIP thread is pretty fantastic and worth a look.
https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/wheelers-steel-the-adventure-continues.847671/

Lorien, hope you don't mind me posting this. This subject seemed relevant to the Bourdain discussion, but if you deem it too off topic, I'll defer to your moderating gavel strike.:)

I've used the knife that Nick made for me quite a lot. The edge has taken a little damage since it was quite thin, so Nick redid the edge for me with a more convex profile which works a lot better. That knife, by the way, has a higher dollar value because of the thread we made regarding its making- regardless of whether it was used or not, which does kind of speak to the value of exposure. That being said, Wheeler's Steel will be residing here in perpetuity

I think I read in one of David Darom's books that Gay Rocha wouldn't sharpen his knives because he wanted his patrons to physically engage with his work without cutting themselves. His work is very sculptural, and although I guess they could stab you pretty good, the point was the form, not the function

*****

One thing that I need to remind people of is to keep their politics out of this thread and forum. We can have a great discussion around this, or any other topic, without discussing our opinions about the personal leanings of anyone named in the OP. Let's keep the taint of politics out of C&H and come together around our common interest in custom knives, this place should be our escape into a wonderful hobby and livelihood
 

brownshoe

I support this site with my MIND
Joined
Sep 6, 2002
Messages
8,469
I've had more than one maker say an art knife/sculpture wasn't meant to be used. Two makers have told me a particular piece was not sharpened on purpose.
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
299
I’m still trying to comprehend the “One could EASILY argue that kramer is by far the most well known ABS mastersmith in history. He's been on tons of tv shows, written about in every major national and some international publications, thousands of website profiles and mentions. He may not be the 'top dog' with the hardcore knife crowd, but there isn't a smith alive whosename/brand is more known than his.”

Seriously? I’ve collected knives and objects of all sorts for 50+ years and I’ve never seen him on “tons of TV shows” nor read about in “every national publication”....I guess I don’t sit around enough to watch “tons” of tv nor read any publication that has written about him....sorry.

Just heard of him a few years ago and never did buy into hype.....everyone and their brother are making kitchen knives these days.

All of the knives in our kitchen are ‘custom’ knives but I must have been waaaay ahead of this current fad, most of ours were made a Decade ago.

I used to watch Bourdain until he interjected his politics and conspiracy theories into his shows and then he became just another hack...

Pretty easy to comprehend in all honesty if you look at it not from a niche collector perspective. As i said the guy is as mainstream as any custom knifemaker has ever dreamed of getting. And IS the reason everyones making kitchen knives these days. You say you were ahead of the kitchen knife 'fad' by having customs 10 years old, but kramers been an MS exclusively making chef knives since 97. The guy pretty much created the market for custom chef knives. which is why he gets profiled by WSJ, NYT, Wapo, Popsci, judging on top chef, guest speaking at conferences and was made an American Craft Council fellow.

I mean just google "Bob Kramer knives" and it brings up over 3 million search results. That's INSANE for a knifemaker. For scale, heres some other current and former smiths of renown. "David Lisch knives" under 20k results, Adam Deresoiers knives, less than 55k results, Bill Moran knives 469k results, Buster Warenksi, 16k results, i could go down the list of every current and past major knife maker and nobody would even come close, hell you could combine a dozen+ and still not have the reach kramer does.
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
11,983
^^^ I shruggingly agree. Good points. :thumbsup:

I'm not in dead agreement about Bob singlehandedly creating the chef's market, but he SURE pioneered this. It was coming and he led the way.

(Google: "SharpByCoop" = 629k vs. "Sharp by Coop" = 14.1m LOL!! )

Good thread.
 

BenR.T.

Tanto grinder & High performance blade peddler
Moderator
Joined
Apr 18, 2011
Messages
4,895
^^^ I shruggingly agree. Good points. :thumbsup:

I'm not in dead agreement about Bob singlehandedly creating the chef's market, but he SURE pioneered this. It was coming and he led the way.

(Google: "SharpByCoop" = 629k vs. "Sharp by Coop" = 14.1m LOL!! )

Good thread.
Man, I only have 77,900 for BRT Bladeworks. :D
 
  • Like
Reactions: mb>

Dawkind

Platinum Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2000
Messages
11,060
I care not a whit about all of your 'statistics' and fanboi attitude....my World does not revolve around kitchen knives nor searches on the Internet....thanks anyway.
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2009
Messages
299
Fanboy attitude? I was just pointing out why he could be viewed as the most well known smith after you said you barely knew anything about him and his exposure you so doubted. Don't gotta get all cranky about it. You interjected into the debate questioning the points made, now you care 'not a whit'?

Don't think I'm right? Prove me wrong. laid out why he could EASILY be viewed as such. thus far all you've presented is a hefty heaping of salt. Which no doubt will be followed up with "it's not worth my time or effort" or something to that effect.
 
Last edited:
Top