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Ken Onion auction


Jan 28, 2001
AZCK is having an auction for a Ken Onion with an ATS-34 blade, the bidding is up to $800, if you go to Plazacutlery.com they have one for sale for $750.
Ain't capitalism great? A dealer can buy one of Ken's knives at his standard price ($550 regular or $450 the midtech knives), or maybe even at a discount, turn right around and sell it for a couple hundred more!

Doesn't really seem right, but I guess it's just supply and demand.


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In this case, I think AZCK is people who don't just want to make a usual ripoff profit of about 1 1/2 times cost, but instead want to squeeze every last penny out of some guy who wants a knife. Why Onion allows this is the hard question - he should be disgusted and not sell more to them.

[This message has been edited by thelu (edited 02-14-2001).]
WOW! 6 year waiting period
yes he does good work but come on
Handled these at the LDC table this weekend. They were asking $450 for one. A fair deal for a pretty nice knife. Even then its pushing the limit with great folks are doing the work at each step. If you got the cash get the knife...

Welcome to the forum West.

there is an old saying... "Let the buyer beware"

Before you buy something that you really don't know about, research it. The people that are bidding on that knife don't know, and are paying there dues.

Buy the way... it's up to $875!

BC... For those who fought for it, Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know... Semper Fi
As a dealer for Ken Onion I find this thread very interesting.

Regarding makers saying they don't mind if dealers or any other owners of their knives, selling their knives at auction.

Once the maker sells the knife he/she no longer has anything to say about what happens to it. Unless of course the seller misrepresents either the knife or the maker in some way.

Also, you have to look at this from a business point of view. Makers like auctions as it does three things for them:

1) Gets them extra exposure

2) It moves some synaptic action in the right brain (where the artist lives) to the left side where Ego lives. Lets face it all of us like to have our ego stroked now and then.

3) This kind of demand indicates to the maker it may be time to raise their prices.

In Ken's case he makes very few knives to begin with. Dealers will be lucky to get 5 or 6 knives over the course of the year.

As for dealers auctioning off knvives, that is up to you if you want to particpate. Yes, like it or not Jay gets into most shows early. It is a fact that some custom knife dealers get prefrential treatment with most makers.

The reasons should be obvious. The 10 biggest custom knife dealers in the US probably buy and sell well over $5,000,000 worth of custom knives per year. When you figure that most of the custom knives sold in the US are under $800. That is a lot of custom knvies that dealers are buying and selling.

In this case Jay did get in early, however Ken Onion did not sell his knives to any dealers until the show opened at 4PM on Friday. Matter of Fact Ken had a few knives to sell on Saturday.

There were 4 dealers standing at the table when I was there. Each of us were able to buy 2 mid-tech folders which sell for $450.00. One dealer bought two customs and paid full retail for them. So you can expect to see those on his web site for over the $550 retail price.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Jay selling the knife at auction. As, by dicussion on both this thread and the MIRC chat room. The parties involved in the auction understand that the knife they are buying is well over the retail price and that their chance of getting out of the knife what they paid for it is slim and none. I know, not every collector cares if they can get their money back out of a knife.

Want proof of this, ask Jay if he will take the knife back in trade for the price he sells it for at the auction. Then ask him what would he give you in credit towards the purchase of another knife off of his site. You will no doubt be surprised at the price difference. It's just business.

Part of the process you are forgetting in all this is, you could have had a Onion knife at 4PM on Friday. All you had to do was fly or Drive to Las Vegas, get a hotel, pay to enter the show, meals, tips, taxi's etc. Now your expenses (especially if you had to fly) would have been well over $300, my plane ticket from Atlanta was $355 alone. Also, don't forget a day off of work.

Two weeks before you might have been able to sweet talk a knife out of Ken at the SHOT Show in New Orleans. But unless you live close you have the same or similar expenses to get to a show.

Ken will be at the Blade Show, no table. But he will have a few knives with him. After that Ken is done with shows for the year. So you have one more opportunity to see Ken at a show. But how much will it cost you to get there.

There are a lot of expenses involved for dealers bringing the knife to you. Don't forget taking the photo, putting it on the web site, paying the ISP for the web site, paying Network Solutions each year for your domain name, etc.

There is one other option to this. I know of a dealer who has a custom Ken Onion knife. You know the ones that Ken sells for $550. It would appear that he is actually going to do something in lieu of this thread, unusual.
Not really unusual for him, as he sells about 95% of his knives at maker prices anyway. He is actually going to sell the Onion custom he has for Ken's price.

He is just waiting to see how high the other dealers will sell their Onion's for!

Guys, what it comes down to is Jay is conducting business. You now know the knife is way overpriced and Jay is not trying to hide that fact. From where I sit, if Jay has let you know the facts, then he is doing his job. He is only letting the market determine the price of the knife.

If your not happy with this, don't bid on the knife. It is always the customers choice who they spend their money with.

Capitalism is a great thing! As you can tell by this thread...it's business!

Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur
OK, I'll just edit this down to say that thelu has no idea who or what he's talking about.

[This message has been edited by Brian_Turner (edited 02-14-2001).]
Ken will also be at the show in Eugene, Or. So there is your other chance to maybe get something from him. He does the semi annual gun show in Honolulu and sometimes has maybe 10 knives.
I agree with Brian and am disturbed by the comments directed at AZCK.

Do not see how anyone who has met and dealt with Jay and Karen can make accusations on an auction that started at a fair price.

As with any auction, the item is being sold to the person who wants and can afford it the most.

I do not see the problem and yes I want one of Ken's knives, no I am not in a position to consider 800+ for that particular one. Kudos to the person who can and to the person that sold it.

Auctions are funny things. I have sold quite a few on ebay and on the whole the prices have been fair for me (the seller) and the buyer.

When you look at individual sales most went at prices the knife was worth. A few went to buyers as bargains (that was cool), A few went at way more than they were worth. At first I felt a little guilty, (I am not a dealer into this for money trying to support a business and a family.) but after thinking about it I decided to give myself a break on the guilt part. The knives were described low key, the buyers were happy, they had 2 weeks to decide if they wanted the knife after they got it.

Some knife nuts got more money than sense.
I think we have room for them too.

" The real art of living is to keep alive the longing in human beings to become greater versions of themselves." Laurens Van der Post in memory of James Mattis

[This message has been edited by Gus Kalanzis (edited 02-14-2001).]
I am like Gus. I would love to own a Ken Onion custom but can't afford $800+ either. Ken makes an awesome knife and is in high demand. On the collector market, a knife is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If someone is willing to pay $875 for that particular knife, then it is worth $875. I called Jay Tuesday and ordered a knife from him. He is was very pleasent and helpful over the phone. When the first knife I wanted was already sold, he made reccomendations on other similar knifes he had in stock. I already had a back-up plan, and got a knife I wanted anyways. My deal is not complete with Jay and Karen, but I am very pleased and impressed so far. I have tried to stay away from dealers and deal with the maker directly. But I think Jay and Karen are making me rethinl that position. I can get friendly service from a reputable person on a knife I don't have to wait for. Kind of hard to beat.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with selling a knife at auction for whatever a person is willing to pay for it. This is totally up to the people bidding on the knife. If the price is above what you are willing to pay then don't bid on it. Pretty simple, huh?
As for Jay and Karen being money grubbing, greedy, shabby people, that is ridiculous! They do not know what someone will bid for a knife. They are hoping to get a good return on their investment, but that is only guaranteed if the reserve bid is high enough. In some cases that will mean that the knife will not sell, so a reasonable reserve bid is usually put on the knife. At that point it is up to the people that want the knife to decide what they are willing to pay for it. If the person pays $1000.00 for this knife, and is happy with the transaction, then what is wrong with that?
I think insulting people for carrying on honest business practices is wrong, and totally uncalled-for. Would I pay $875.00 for this knife? No, but then again I don't have to, do I?


[This message has been edited by Keith Montgomery (edited 02-14-2001).]
And, in the grand scheme, $800 (now $1,100) seems to be the rate for most popular customs. If you want it and have the means to get it, you will, plain and simple. God, look at custom Emersons! Retail on a CQC6 was $475-500. Now, you can't find 'em for less than $1,250, and I've seen 'em go for as high as $1,400! And, if I had that kind of money, I'd own one of 'em by now!

Supply and demand, my friends...
I have no problem with auctions. Nobody has a gun to your head making you buy a perticular knife. Knife dealers serve a purpose for makers and they need to be compensated for there time and effort or "whats the use". I bought a custom Boa on Jay and Karens site last year. Service was excellent before and "AFTER" the sale! I bought this Boa for the going $600.00. This was in line with the current prices and I consider it fare. They didn't make a bundle from my sale and that's the first knife I have ever bought from them. I have been viewing knives on there site for well over a year and believe in supporting the sites I enjoy. I am enclosing a URL to a thread I started a while back about Jay and Karen, you might want to see what kind of people they really are! Cheers

I believe everyone thinks I am knocking the auction, that is not the case. I was trying to let those people know who were bidding $800+ that they could save money by buying the knife over at Plaza cutlery, I see nothing wrong with auctioning the knife.

That Onion you have the link to on Ebay IIRC is one of the Mid-Tech Boas that are not completely done by Ken but there are elements made by someone else and shipped for final fit and blade up by Ken. They sell for $450 at a few sites. They are aslo a blast to play with and well made. But I am not sure where to fit that one in the custom spectrum...collaboration perhaps...I don't really know yet.

Once again, educational reading! Thanks for taking the time to put that in writing. As a maker, with little time to ponder the business end of this whole thing.... I found that very interesting


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