The Ivory Controversy Continues….

Had a link from AAPK forwarded to me this morning regarding the Ivory controversy and I can’t let it go unanswered as I know some of the comments are directed toward me.  And that’s okay.

Let’s address the basis for this whole grading fiasco.  From all I’ve seen and heard, this is a solution looking for a problem!!!  I can’t relate one single time that I’ve heard someone say, wow, I sure wish Great Eastern would grade their Hippo Ivory or any other handle material.  Or ‘holy mackerel scooter, this grading system is the best idea I’ve seen yet!!’.

A number of us distributors were asked whether we thought it was a good idea to offer a grading system to the Hippo Ivory.  I gave a resounding NO and from my conversations with Chris, I was left with the impression this was a general consensus of the distributors.  From what I’ve read on this blog and comments from both customers and NON customers, this is not a popular concept with ANYONE other than Bill.  After I raised the issue and a number of folks started agreeing it didn’t make sense a couple of things happened.

  • Rather than charging the same price for P’s and C’s as they initially did, GEC put a slight premium price on the P’s
  • When GEC found out there was a great distaste for the “Common” moniker, they decided to say it actually meant “Character”
  • With the change from Common to Character, the P’s and C’s are once again the same price

Regarding Distributors requesting only the best Ivory prior to the grading system, I’d encourage any and all to call Chris and ask her if I’ve ever requested only the best Ivory, Primitive bone or any other handle material.  I have complained that some distributors seem to get the nicer stag and I guess maybe I should ask!  Customers have told me that some distributors claim to only carry stag hand picked for them.  That’s not me!!  Have I ever returned what I felt was substandard handle material, you bet.  In fact, other than the rare occasion I have a specific request from a customer, I don’t even request low serial numbers.  I’d be willing to bet that any distributor wanting serial numbers above 20 and only the cracked primitive bone or ivory would have very little trouble talking Chris out of it.  I also doubt you’ll have much trouble just taking the C grade ivory rather than the Premiums.  Don’t think we need a grading system to handle that request.

The analogy comparing this grading system to serving up a new dish and spitting it out, leaving a bad impression on the kids.  Not even close.  This isn’t a ‘new dish’.  This is serving up the same pie Mom’s made for the last 5 years but now telling the kids the part of the pie with the unbroken crust is the premium piece and the piece with the broken crust has ‘character’.   Before that, everyone was really glad to just get a piece of pie, but now they’re being told it’s not the ‘best’ piece.  See how that flies over the dinner table.

The idea that this helps to resolve the issue of making the allotment knives available to distributors alludes me.  The grading system doesn’t impact the number of knives available in any way!  If anything, it further exacerbates the problem by taking a limited number of items and subdividing them further into 2 grades.

I’m so passionate about this issue because it bothers me that a perfectly good, highly collectible handle material is suddenly being presented as something less.  I understand that wasn’t the intent and I have no doubt it was done with the best of intentions, but it didn’t work.  There’s nothing wrong with making a misstep and backing away from a decision.  The ability/willingness to change and adapt is a highly respected management characteristic.

And offer up a solution for both the customer and GEC?  Drop the grading system.  Please read this…...NO ONE ASKED FOR IT!!!!!  IF you have a customer that wants the P and C designation, slap a label on the tube and engrave the letter on the bolster, offer to drop the price $10 and see how many ‘takers’ there are.  Better yet, offer the same knives to TSA Knives at a $10 premium without the label and engraving and I’m back in the game!

Bottom line????  When I got the Hippo Ivory and found out about the grading system and the engraved bolster, I sent them back without even thinking about it.  Recently I was offered graded Elephant Ivory and declined.  Here’s why.  All I did was put my money where my mouth is.  As I said above, this is a solution looking for a problem.  I have always tried to be 100% honest with my customers and rarely a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask, ‘…if I’m collecting for the long term with a hope of appreciation in value, what do you recommend...’  Regarding the ‘graded’ knives, I know what my response is. 

I’m open to listening to anyone that would like explain to me how and why they feel that 2-5-10 years down the line their Ivory handled “C” grade knife will be worth as much on the secondary market as an unmarked pre-graded Ivory or a “P” for that matter.  Your gonna pay the same for it, maybe.   If you don’t have a problem with it, aren’t concerned about potential future value, want a great looking EDC knife, go for it!  My personal opinion and from comments from some long term collectors, this didn’t do the collector any favors.  And, if GEC starts grading the stag, I’m gonna have a big decision to make.


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