Descriptions of "Knives for Sale"

As I've bought and sold a couple of knives on this forum's "Knives for Sale" forum, I was wondering about some of the conventions used for descriptions. I bought a knife with a leather handle that was advertised as (paraphrasing): Slight use with some scratches. However, the leather handle disks were loose but I only discovered this upon receipt. The seller offered to cancel the deal but I felt it was worth the price I paid. Upon sending it back to the manufacturer, they replaced the entire knife for free. Lucky me!

My questions are:

(1) What is the definition of "NIB." I know what the acronym stands for (I'm from Acronym, Ohio) but what are the expectations? Never opened the box--might not even be a knife in there, opened the box but never sheathed the knife, opened and sheath the knife but never carried it or cut anything with it, etc.?

(2) What does 95% mean? Is this a reference to the amount of finish left on the knife or someone's estimation of how much use it has had?

(3) Is there a convention to describe a knife with no box or papers but has never been carried (or only carried a couple of times), but has never been used or sharpened? A knife with all its utility value but not a collector.

Personally, I just try to describe the knife without using definitions above that might get me in trouble. Here are some I have used:

Factory Edge: Means it has never cut anything, not even opened an envelope, and never sharpened. Just the way it came from the maker.

Never Used: Again, hasn't cut anything so is factory sharp. The coating should have no scratches.

Never Sharpened: Some could say this means it may have been used a bit but not sharpened afterwards. To me, it means the same as the two above--no use, therefore no sharpening required.

I would expect anyone describing a knife would do so accurately: Light use, moderate use, few scratches, sharpened (not sure I would like someone else's feeling on their ability to sharpen), loose this or that, sheath has scratches, etc.

Hopefully, we would all be honest with each other and not use "used car salesmen" tactics (I know several purveyors of previously owned transportation and their reputation precedes them)!

What do you think?--Bruce Woodbury
I like it. There are a number of reasons for folks to be honest, but the one that jumps up immediately is the forum captioned "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!". I would not wish to be publicly excoriated as one of the latter two types.

Walk in the Light,
Feb 16, 1999
Bruce and FullerH I couldn't agree more with both of you. I've bought or traded several knives through the forum and have had mostly good luck. However I did one trade with a guy, one of his for two of mine. One was a NIB Spyderco that was still unwrapped in the aluminum foil. I had never even looked at the knife. The guy complained that there was some rust around the pivot area. We agreed that I would take it back in exchange for cash which I did. When I got it back there was absolutely no sign of rust but a very slight discoloration that cleaned right up with WD-40. I probably would be irritated about it but I ended up selling the knife for twice what I had to settle with him for. While people will have differing opinions on condition, I consider NIB to be exactly that, although if it has been taken out, looked at and put back its still NIB as far as I'm concerned and after my last experience I always take a knife out and check it even if its goning right back in the box.


who dares, wins

you have brought up an important issue. Is there a grading scale like the NRA has for firearms? It's tough to describe a knife that's seen very little to no use. Phantom, I had a similar problem before. Now, every knife I get to sell, I take it out, inspect it, maybe photograph it, wipe it off with a Tuf-Cloth and back it goes into the box. To me that is "NIB".
I have a Spyderco Jess Horn that's been in my car for a few months (a backup to my backup, for the other backup to my primary carry). I think it's opened a couple of envelopes, maybe cleaned my nails once and cut a bagel for my daughter (not at the same time). The knife looks new. I might consider listing it "as new" or "like new" or maybe "almost new" and explain the light use. I like your "never sharpened" description. Either way, I would not ask or expect full value for the knife, knowing that it had been used. Luckily, 99% of the knives I sell are new, so it's not a problem. The trouble is when you get to rare, older, collectibles. How do you evaluate the amount of wear to the overall intrinsic value of the piece. Any input from more experienced "used" knife seller would be appreciated.
Take care and look sharp!
I think it would be a simple and very helpful thing for some of the moderators to create an FAQ that detailed how to grade and describe knives. There could be a link to this from the For Sale forum. I've had trouble deciding the condition of knives I've put up for sale, and would have been greatly aided by such a resource.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
What I do when I sell a used knife here is
to give a brief description of the condition
in the "For Sale" forum. If somebody shows
interest I will e-mail the an exact description, every scratch and ding. If for some reason the knife were not acceptable to
the buyer, I have know problem if they wish
to send it back.
I ask the person if they understand the exact condition of my knife.I try to be very detailed and I ask detailed questions also.It's hard to say about NIB because I've bought knives right out of the display(the last one)and I know those knives are played with by store employees and test driven by costomers and have already been opened maybe 100 times.IMO they are no longer NIB.NIB should mean opened ,inspected,and put back.Not flicked open or test the edge by shaving arm hair.Thanks
scott w
Corduroy - I agree, a link to a FAQ would help a lot. I've seen a great deal of confusion since I've started reading the posts here, and I myself have been somewhat confused. It seems that the definitions of certain levels of condition must be clarified.

bruce - thanks for bringing this up. However, I disagree that never used and never sharpened should mean the same as NIB. NIB, IMHO should mean not used for anything, not cleaned with TufCloth, photographing, etc. possible. Never used might allow for cleaning with Tuf Cloth, or lubricants. Never sharpened I think is too meaningless to use. It might just mean that somebody didn't ever bother sharpening the knife and it could be in any condition. This is why somebody (who we can agree on, I'm not sure - the moderators seem like a good possibility) should define certain conditions and everybody selling/trading should list according to this.

JP Bullivant
I' ve sold quite a few knives on the forums here and when I list them, I will provide some details even if they are NIB. I always post to e- mail for details. I answer any and all inquiries as to its condition and specs. Even down to the tiniest hairline mark! Why not? After all you are selling a product to fellow forum members and they should be exactly as described. I would expect no less from members selling, especially if they' ve prior business transactions with me.

As a side NOTE: A few times during my e- mail exchanges with the other party to go over the particulars when interest was expressed in a possible purchase, they were sold to another party with a later inquiry!! When is a knife "spoken" for?? Or is it just to the fastest bidder??
Oh well...


"To earn a million is easy, a real friend is not."
I haven't traded that many blades over the computer, but the ones I have done through the forum have gone very smooth. I try to let people know exactly what I know about a knife when trading. If I've used a blade to cut something I consider it used. If I've opened it a few times and wiped it down from time to time then to me it is still "NIB".

Now I admit to not being into the "High End" knives, so I'm not talking customs worth several hundred dollars. Knives from my financial neighborhood don't always come out of the box in perfect shape. I've seen rust, dings, scratches, and once I had a knife in the box with a side scale laying next to it. Sometimes a little wipedown with a tuf cloth can make a knife better than "NIB".


Nakano, I believe a knife is spoken for when you have a firm deal. If you are still exchanging e-mails with questions or haggling over the price you don't have a firm deal. Knife goes to the highest bidder who commits to the deal. However, if you get a higher bid after a firm deal but haven't shipped yet I feel you are obligated to honor the original deal. Also I feel that if you sell or trade a NIB knife the purchaser should be obligated to keep it unless it is defective. If someone buys a knife that they are unfamiliar with but that is NIB and they decide that they just don't like it I feel it is unfair to ask you to take it back unless you agree in advance to send it on approval. I always suggest sending a used knife on approval after thoroughly listing its condition with the stipulation that the buyer reimburse me for shipping if they decide not to keep it. I feel this is the fairest system for both parties.


who dares, wins