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Auto or Manual

Apr 4, 1999
As a long time admirer of knives but a short time collector which is the better investment.

never seen a knive i didn't like
Microtech autos. seem the bring the most $$$$. -AR

- Intelligent men, unfortunately, learn from fools, more often than fools learn from intelligent men.

For a collection, I tend to think of supply and demand. A mass produced knife, in general, will be less collectable then something made in low numbers.

In general, auto's are hard to find and made in lower numbers making them, in general, a better investment.

Personally, I buy knives to use though so, my opinions may be a tad biased or ill informed. As a true investment, the stock market is better for most people. If you like knives and appreciate them for what they are, they are not a "bad" investment either.

I mostly disapprove of buying knives or any collectors' items for investment purposes, but for what it's worth....

It's the good stuff that appreciates. A $20 knife is unlikely to ever be worth more than it cost you whether it's an auto or a manual. A handmade knife of good quality is likely to apppreciate in value. Unusual knives are more appealing to collectors and good autos are generally considered more collectible than most other good knives.

I think it's best to collect what you like and not worry much about investment value, but the same principles will probably apply to how you value your collection years from now. Many people start out collecting relatively inexpensive knives and often buy large numbers of them, and later find as their tastes mature they're no longer interested in that box full of knives they now consider ordinary and boring -- and everybody else feels the same way so they take a loss when they sell them. If you buy quality, even though you can't afford to buy as many, you'll always appreciate it -- you'll appreciate it all the more as your tastes mature. Look for the unusual, too -- do you really want a display case full of knives that all look similar?

Many people start out just collecting "knives" but there are so many knives ... a specialized collection, a collection with a theme, tends to be more interesting. Of course you may not know yet what kind of knives you want to specialize in.... It's something to think about for the future, though.

There are two broad kinds of collector and collection, narrow and type. Some coin collectors want a complete collection of a narrow category such as Lincoln pennies, and they put them in a display together ... every coin the same except for dates and mint marks. The other kind of collection is called a type collection -- one of each type. A type coin collection might have one of every type of coin the US has minted -- that one would have only two Lincoln pennies (different reverse designs) but it would have one of each previous penny design plus all the other denominations. A type coin collector doesn't care about dates; he's interested in the different designs. I guess it's a matter of taste, but type collectors consider themselves more advanced, more mature.... I have to agree with them; I think a complete collection of almost identical specimens of anything is pretty boring. Suit yourself, though; that's the important thing....

In autos ... one collector might want one of each size of swivel-bolster switchblade made by a certain company -- all the same except for size, or maybe he'd want to collect different handle materials and have them all the same except for the handles. That kind of collector has a drive for completeness; he wants a complete collection of every example of a narrow category. If he needs just one more to complete his collection and he can't find it or can't afford it he'll go nuts....

A type collector might want one of every type of auto mechanism -- one Italian swivel-bolster, one Italian picklock, one of each that's significantly different mechanically. There's usually at least one type with only a few specimens extant and the owners won't sell, so type collections are seldom completed. Type collectors have to live with that. Even though there's one type he'll never be able to add to his collection a type collector can appreciate the knives he has ... and dream about finding that unattainable knife at a flea market someday....

A complete collection, whether it's a narrow category or a type collection, is worth much more than a random assortment of this and that you've picked up over the years -- probably to you as well as to potential buyers. It's worth much more than an almost complete collection, too.

-Cougar Allen :{)