Probably going to be a few spouses that don’t agree with that statement, but let me explain…….
When I started handling Great Eastern Knives in early 2007, I was buying knives from another distributor and things started out rather slow. I was buying some really unusual Bark River’s from that distributor and was building a nice BRKT following. Once a couple of people discovered I had the GEC’s, things started to pick up fairly quickly. (In fact, Tim B, you were one of my early customers and I’m happy to say I’m still really glad to sell you a knife every now and then!!) It only took a few months and I decided to work directly with GEC as a distributor.
Through 2007 and even well into 2008, the buying pattern for a lot of collectors was to literally buy one of everything that came out. And I’ll admit to falling into that group as well. By 2009, there weren’t too many collectors left with pockets deep enough to continue their habit at that level so emails started coming in asking, ‘..if I start collecting GEC’s what would you recommend as having the most potential to go up in value?..’ For a while, I actually tried to answer that question, based on sales and customer requests. By late 2010, the number of patterns and handle materials made answering the question virtually impossible. Last year, 2011, the possibilities exploded.
A quick count from GEC’s 2011 distributor price list shows over 500 variations you could have selected from. Now, that’s considering all the possible combinations of handle material, trademark, blade configurations, serialized, unserialized, etc. Consider that in 2006, you had a couple dozen possibilities at best. That is amazing to say the least.
So, how has that changed the collectors approach to GEC knives? Well for one thing, it made everyone start to become more selective. A lot of collectors I sell to are now focusing on a pattern or handle material. As recently as a year ago, I would have said that Genuine and even Burnt Stag were the ‘gold standard’ for collecting GEC’s. Anymore, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still much sought after, but as GEC started using materials like Mammoth and Elephant Ivory, some of the exotic woods, etc, the premium collectible shifted slightly.
Moving to the more ‘affordable’ range of collectibles, the acrylics have created a solid following. Some of the original acrylics were a bit on the bland side but I give credit to the Dead Skunk and Copper Snake as lighting up the acrylic market. Combining it with some of the unique patterns like the Lady Leg and Templar didn’t hurt matters either.
Likewise with the wood. Some time back we officially chose a name for the Beaver (Christine) Tail right here on this blog. It was a fun contest and no doubt raised the awareness of a really great handle material. In the past, beyond Ebony Wood, most likely a lot of people that never gave much consideration to wood as being a viable handle option. Once again, this created another unique niche for a lot of collectors.
When it comes to patterns, I still have to say (based on my sales) the #23 is the king. The very first Great Eastern I sold was a #23 and if GEC were to start making just one knife, that’d have to be the one they would stick with. When I look through my inventory, considering how many have been offered, that’s probably the one pattern I have the fewest of in stock.
In the last year, I haven’t been asked nearly as often, which pattern/handle material do I think will go up in value the most. That’s probably the strongest indicator that collectors are truly starting to buy knives based on what they really like rather than simply speculating on them as an investment. I’m also finding more and more collectors picking up what I’ll call ‘common’ knives that were released a couple of years ago and now they’re going back to fill in ‘holes’. Interest in the Prototypes has also increased in the past year.
The true collector is the individual that has some items they wouldn’t part with at virtually any price. It bears repeating, buy quality, buy what you like and you’ll never go wrong. That way, even if your collection never goes up in value, you’ve got the priceless pleasure of owning something you truly enjoy.
To sum it all up, the Great Eastern
Collectors are maturing and starting to develop a focus. But every now and then, Great Eastern complicates things by throwing out something like the Lumber Jack. Is it time to start dumping those #23’s and collecting????….ohhh man…..