Rethinking of my own collecting......

Oct 4, 1998
oeI've been collecting knives for about 4 years now. Up till now, I don't have the courage to put down a list and see how much I've spent on this hobby and neither did I have any thorough thought on why I like those sharp pointy things.

Summing up my courage, I made that list last night and.....oh!...... with my collection of about 50 knives.... it has costed me just over 12k USD. What am I going after?

Art or Science?

Knives are wonderful thing. It's very simple, and yet it can be vvvery complicated when you dig into it. What I can accomplished with a $1000 folder, most probably, the wife or my mom can do it nicely with a $5 Taiwan made parring knife. So what is the point? Self-defense? I think a 8" pointy Chef's knife is quite an formidable weapon....or a rusty old axe....hammer etc. Even a one sided scalpel blade (the kind that has an aluminum strip on the back), try hold it in between your fingers and clutch your hand into a fist and you know what I mean.

I've always say to myself that a knife is a unique piece of thing that can combine the art and science in one. You can put elegant engravings on a fully functional blade, then it will be a piece of functional art. I never like the wall-hangers. I think the heart and soul of a knife is it's functionality...... with all the modern metallurgy, it's fascinating. But does it justify my collecting? Materials......this kind of thing can be quite variable. 440C was once considered a very good all-round stainless steel, but how about now? But now we know that it can't hold an edge as well as ATS-34. Then how about the value of a top-dollar Rod Chappel 440C fighter.... to me, it becomes a "semi-wall-hanger". This kind of trend continues, and..... shall we see all the art knives from top choices of steel today (ATS-34, BG42, 440V, 420V, 3V, M2 or even Talonite) all become "semi-wall-hangers" in matter of years?

Damascus? Is it a solution? Ultimate blade material? Most damascus can't hold a better edge than the wonderful new stainless steel such as 420V. Fascinating pattern? Yes. From Daryl Meier's web-page, I see a nice bowie with the flag of US forged into it!! Amazing! Your imagination is the only limitation! Will the blade hold an edge? I truely believe so, just from the postings on the Sword-forum, I think that Grandpa Meier is just too knowledgeable that this thing will sure be functional. The other thing is "wootz", the original damascus!

After a few months of iaido training, Japanese swords really amused me! The pattern on the hardened edge is fascinating. If only you can see a fully polished masterpiece, I am sure you'll get involved, like me. It's a pure combination of function and beauty. The hammon, ashi, nei and nioi, very beautiful and yet is the functional part. Even the hada, not so hard back of the body, has some fine features that is the result of forge folded welding, a primitive way of purify steel. Soft core steel, hard outer jacket. The beauty come along with the function. I think that's why the Japanese think that it is sacred!! To the Japanese, a broken sword is an disadvantage. Katana will bend, but won't break, well thought out design!! A soldier will bend the sword to original in case it is bent in the battlefield quickly with his foot.
Then he has a good sword again.

Stories that went side by side with a particular blade is interesting too! That's why there are still so many top dollar Randall's around. For me, a good book of the story with some clear photos will most probably satisfy me.

Folders and auto with different mechanisms fascinate me too. Unique and talented designs are beauty in themselves. But will these designs suits in when I actually use my knives is a question I aught to ask myself.

After considering all these, I am trimming down my personal collection. Almost all factory knives will go. I don't need my ATS-34 Tim Britton Venger II anymore, nor my Randall made, Maddog and Ruana knives! I'll say good bye to my Damascus Scott Sawby........etc.

What I'll keep? A few interesting pattern welded fixed blades. A few MT autos. A "wootz" folder. A wonderful tanto (forge folded piece with straw-ash and carbon powder as flux) by Randal Graham. A graceful Katana by Howard Clark , a DonFogg hunting knife. Aha, the 5" hunter I forged out of W1......nobody will ever take this one......ugly but hehe that's my own knife....from start to finish.

Joe Leung
Hong Kong


[This message has been edited by JoeL (edited 09 March 1999).]
Ah...but this is the interesting part of a knife collection...the cycling of the individual pieces. Now *this* is the focus, and then *that*.

This is what adds both focus and diversity to a collection...the paring away coupled with the eventual rebuilding with a more defined thesis! the way, let me know if you want to shed the Sawby!

Hi Joe;
I'm always questioning myself as to why I collect knives - which in my case are virtually all "wall hangers", neatly stashed behind glass.
But then I realize that over the years, I've been accumulating other collections as well: Military Miniatures, Metal Airplane models, Pens and various toys....
I'll bet many of the knife collectors posting on this forum have extensive collections of other items. In fact, from what I see, hear & read, our society in general is on a collection frenzy - from Beany Babies and Baseball Cards to Cuban Cigars and Bottle Caps!
I figure we collect whatever fascinates us...and there's a lot of fascinating stuff out there.
Ed E
Hey Joe, which model Randalls and Ruanas do you have and are you interested in sale or trade? I wish I had your discipline. My collection just keeps growing!


who dares, wins

I have a different outlook about my meager collection each piece reminding me of some part of my past and is treated with due respect