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The next decade for Traditional Knives...words from the wise desired!

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by JonMcD, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. JonMcD


    Jan 1, 2020
    I’m by no means new to traditional knives. If my dad had pants on, there was a 4” stockman in his pocket. I’ve done the same all my life. But I am new to the hobby of collecting them.

    So here’s my question to all of you who have multiple decades of experience collecting. In your opinion, where will the industry/hobby be in 10 years?

    The last decade saw the rise of GEC , the fall of Queen and a billion $10 slipjoints coming out of China.

    Do you predict steady healthy growth? An increase in flipping that creates a market bubble waiting to burst? Dust off the prophetic hats I know some of you have and give me some insight.

    I’m a glutton for gaining wisdom from people smarter then me, and I’d love to know what I’m getting into as I start to collect knives that bring me a lot of joy.

  2. waynorth

    waynorth Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Nov 19, 2005
    "Bringing a lot of Joy" is what mainly keeps this collecting alive IMO!!
    The knives I enjoy best from 10 or more years ago are well-made ones,
    from competent companies. Or well-kept really old ones from companies that no longer exist!! Third category; custom made ones by genius knife makers like Tony Bose and Ken Erickson!!
    I get bored with technology, and talking to phones and computers! I can spend quiet time contemplating a special knife!! Or I can use a well- designed one, made in a free country with reasonable laws and ethics, and enjoy life!!
    I can't see much of that changing in 10 years!! Unless the rule of law get's overthrown!!:mad:
  3. Mayonardo

    Mayonardo Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    I have absolutely no idea. I still think Alvin Toffler was right and future shock is alive and there for anyone to see.

    Me, I don’t expect to be alive ten years from now but as long as I am I will “collect” (buy, appreciate and sell) the knives that speak to me. I suspect it will be generally the same with most others.
    meako, Storm 8593, Headwinds and 7 others like this.
  4. Elgatodeacero

    Elgatodeacero Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    I think the most likely scenario is Great Eastern Cutlery is bought by a Wall Street hedge fund for 195 million dollars, and they immediately contract out all production to the Rough Rider factory in China, causing the company and the hedge fund to file bankruptcy six months later.

    All GEC knives made in USA quadruple in value.

    Bill Howard then opens a new company in Oregon called Great Western Cutlery, and then after making knives for 20 more years he retires, and takes up helicopter skiing.
  5. JonMcD


    Jan 1, 2020
    :D:D:DSounds like the current American dream to me!
    Pinemoon and Prester John like this.
  6. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    We haven't finished this decade yet. Next decade starts in 2021.
    mrknife, dantzk8 and MRpink like this.
  7. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Obviously, I don't know if I'll be looking up at the wrong side of the grass and pushing up weeds, or still be looking down at the green (at least in the summer) side of the grass in ten years.
    I hope I am still above the grass in ten years anyway … I think ...

    I have no idea what the traditional knife market (or the "modern" knife market, come to that) will be like circa 2030 and beyond.

    On the Traditional side, maybe Rough Rider will become more sought after than a Case, Buck, GEC, Queen (original pre-war or recent manufacture) or some other "premium" brands, old or new.

    I'm 99.99997% sure that it is unlikely FROST will become a brand worth buying or owning … except maybe as an anchor for a canoe or float tube, if you are unlucky enough to have that many.

    It is probable that Victorinox will continue to sell more knives in a year, than all other knife manufacturers ... combined.

    Heck, it is possible that any folding knife larger than a US dime or penny
    will be outlawed/banned, along with non-kitchen fixed blades unless the same size - and it may be illegal to sharpen them. (hunting and recreational fishing may well become things of the past.)
    Kitchen knives might have to remain only in the kitchen, and not to be removed from the home or restaurant unless the person with it has a one-time and nearly impossible to obtain permit to do so.

    I'm 95% sure that inflation is going to prevent me from adding even a "Low Cost" Rough Rider, or off-shore produced Imperial or Old Timer to my accumulation.

    Unrelated, but I would not be a bit surprised (based on my grocery bill) if only the wealthy will be able to afford to buy groceries in five to ten years.
    Us "Un-Wealthy" will have to have to make do with a garden, and maybe a couple fowl in the back yard for eggs, and meat … and perhaps a goat or a sheep (and a churn) for dairy products …

    They want (and get) $1.59 or more for a candy bar that cost 5 cents when I was a lad.
    Well I remember my mum sending me to the market with $2 in my pocket to get a gallon of milk and a loaf of (((shudder))) Wonderbread. (generic/house brand breads had not been invented yet) I was able to get a 5 cent candy bar and a 10 cent 12 ounce bottle of soda (and pay the 5 cent bottle deposit) with the change. Today, $2 is not enough for either the gallon of milk or the loaf of (((shudder))) Wonderbread.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
  8. ddavis


    Jan 17, 2018
    I don’t have multiple decades of collecting experience but I do have multiple decades of traditional carry experience.

    I’d say traditionals continue to rise in popularity, as in the past 10 years. With knife laws, company rules against “scary” knife carry, and people generally moving toward things deemed socially appropriate, we may see more big makers getting in on the market. Think of Benchmade making the proper.

    The big question in my mind is the following; are large scale established traditional knife companies with huge overhead and a limited market share going to survive? Think Case. If Benchmade or spiderco really got serious about traditional knives from a business profit perspective, would companies like case even have a chance?

    I’m excited for what the future holds.
    Storm 8593 likes this.
  9. Don W

    Don W Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2012
    We will see a new-comer in the traditional market. We will see some of the older names modernize manufacturing and bring in some new lines of traditional patterns. We will see an increase in the modern traditionals. (think screw together barlows and such) We will see the flood of Chinese knives continue.
  10. Mayonardo

    Mayonardo Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    The first year of the first decade began at the beginning of that first year and ended at the end of that first year, i,e., year one ended when year two began. Just like the ten single digits start at 0 and end at 9.
    2020 begins the first year of this decade which continues for twelve months until the second year begins at 2021.
  11. dantzk8


    Nov 1, 2005
    I dont want to ratiocinate but there's no year 0. The years '20 begin in 2020 but the decade will begin in 2021. But May be i've missed something. Happy good year to you anyway.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
  12. JonMcD


    Jan 1, 2020
    VERY INTRIGUING THOUGHT. I could definitely see Spyderco, Benchmade, Kershaw/ZT, etc. greatly increase their slipjoint and modern traditional offerings. It would be interesting to see those companies absorb a style and influence similar to Jared Oeser, Nick Birdvis, and the like.

    I could see a strong continuation with millennials, and even Gen Z, loving items with patina (leather, 1095, beards), which bodes well for traditional minded makers.

    I think the future of Case is a fascinating question. On one hand, their collector base is massive. I’ve seen some of this culture through my father in law who has well over 100 case knives and counting. 10 yrs might not provide a huge scare, but 20 definitely will if they can’t attract younger collectors.

    In any case, dividing up my collecting pile of cash between GEC, solid quality/accessible modern traditionals, and custom makers is a very exciting outlook.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
    Storm 8593 and Pinemoon like this.
  13. Pinemoon


    Mar 25, 2005
    Those sound like times when a dollar went much farther.
    But the annual median income in the US was just $3,400 in 1955.

    Hopefully the next decade arrives with Case still in business, as well as GEC and Buck. Hopefully Bill Howard is still at GEC or the company has managed to literally clone his replacement. Hopefully there's still local hardware-type stores with Case displays (and hopefully youngsters are fascinated by them and save their money to acquire them).

    I suspect the slipjoint offerings by the "modern makers" will continue to grow as it is a fresh and innovative area that's also law-friendly in a culture where mass shootings are sadly rather common. The automatic "out the front" offerings do not help the industry's image IMHO.

    Anyway, as John Prine said, "It's a big old goofy world."
  14. JohnDF

    JohnDF Gold Member Gold Member

    May 14, 2018
    I will still be looking for the "perfect knife".
  15. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    The only sane method of knife collecting is to buy what you want and don't overpay. There will be bubbles, there will be drop outs, there will be losses and there will be gains, but no one can say with certainty which will be which. At the very least you will have tangible assets that will always be worth something (if you buy want you like and don't overpay!). Knife collecting as an investment is a very shaky pastime.
    MerryMadMonk, Shurke, meako and 6 others like this.
  16. knifeswapper

    knifeswapper Knife Peddler Dealer / Materials Provider

    Sep 3, 2004
    So babies are born one year old? ;)

    Traditional knives have been on the way out for well over 20 years. They have recently had a resurgence as the cnc factories have been able to produce nostalgic patterns with modern components. But they are still on the way out. There is no money for factories in making excellent quality slipjoints. Even with an average price of $80 or so for a GEC product; the factory couldn't stand 6 months of an economy that eliminated expendable income. Few companies that essentially make an excellent but simply nostalgic / collectible product can last. Economies of scale allow Case to make knives for $40; thus they may could survive a bad stretch. But how many layoffs did Case have in the 1990's? In ten years I expect Case will be the only American brand still being produced in a quality fashion. Bill Howard will be long retired. And slipjoint supplies will be from Asia and Europe; but all will be modern variations - there is simply no money in custom fitting / grinding every component. Even the exceptional knives made in the 1980s and 1990s have taken a beating in price when people got accustomed to the quality of GEC knives. All of a sudden a little gap or a smidgen of play was an atrocious defect. Thus, I feel for collectible cutlery - find GEC brands at reasonable prices is the key to building a collection right now. As long as dealers don't get any more greedy, the issue prices for most patterns are reasonable.

    My father asked me if I wanted the farm back 25 years ago. I was working in the technology sector in Dallas and had no interest in cattle; as I had seen it take every second of my fathers time. Thus, he sold a section of land for $500/acre. I remember thinking that buyer had more money than sense... That buyer sold the land in 2019 for $2m (@$3500/acre). The moral of the story is, regardless of how expensive you think something is - it can go higher when folks realize they're not making it any more. Secondary moral - I suck at forecasting; so take it with a grain of salt.
    waverave, GE Jr, southriv and 20 others like this.
  17. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I'm not sure that Case has "huge overhead". They were bought by Zippo and I believe have been in the same shop for many years. They do, however, have a targeted market. But, the Flipper, Shark Tooth, and even the Trapperlock indicate a probe into a wider market.

    Benchmade and Spyderco no doubt have looked at it from a business profit perspective and that is why they have the limited offerings they do. Personally, I won't give Benchmade a single dirty penny but I don't want to start that debate here, but I have a bunch of Spyderco products. Great products indeed but I don't think their price-equivalent offerings are any better that what Case offers. Yeah, the Dragonfly has VG10, but the Copperlock has beautiful bone scales and metal bolsters and so on. Both are solidly built so it comes down to design and style preferences. Which is exactly where it is at now.

    The "modern slip joint" offerings that are available through these companies are only there due to highly restrictive knife laws, primarily in Europe. Hence, the UK Pen Knife. The companies see a need and fill it. If they sell some units to other folks who happen to like the design, then that's just a bonus but there's not enough pull there to sustain the products on their own. And I don't think there is anyway they'd invest in tooling up and establishing suppliers to make true "traditional" patterns and materials. The market is just not there, even if Case and GEC closed tomorrow, I doubt they'd give much more than a cursory glance. They may offer more slip joints with hints of old styling but I think that's about it.

    Traditionals are a lot like revolvers. They're technologically outdated but still have a following.
    Lansky1, Sharp & Fiery, Quiet and 4 others like this.
  18. dantzk8


    Nov 1, 2005
    When a child borns he is in his first year, not in his "zero" year. If you count a number of objects (or years) do you begin by zero? If the first knife i've bought is the number zero then the tenth is the number nine?

    Rhinoknives1 and Old Engineer like this.
  19. Old Engineer

    Old Engineer Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    I think that if you want a Good Traditional Knife at a reasonable price , You better buy it now while you can afford them . The price of GEC goes up every year as it has to to stay in business . I am a Retired Person as many of you people are and right now I can afford them but the prices are quickly going up to where I will feel guilty for spending that much on another Safe Queen . Unlike probably many people , I Do Not see Case or any of the Chinese knives to be COLLECTIBLE . Eventually this irrational exuberance bubble of plenty of money will most likely end . I certainly hope that I am wrong because I do like to buy Northfields and my goal is to have 100 before I am planted .

    mrknife, meako, rockman0 and 4 others like this.
  20. Old Engineer

    Old Engineer Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    I really did not want to get in on this but : When you start a walk you are at ZERO feet or miles or whatever , only after you go a Mile can you say you are on ONE Mile until you have gone all the way until you get toMile Two.

    Shurke and jackknife like this.

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