Category Archives: Admin Comments

What’s my knife collection worth?

What’s my knife collection worth?  That’s one of the difficult questions I run up against.  While I’ve bought and resold quite a few collections over the years, I promise you I still haven’t come up with a perfect formula that’s 100% accurate.  I’ve lost money on some collections, broke even on some and made a nice return on a few.  When it comes to buying and selling collections on a regular basis, it’s a matter of balancing the win and loss columns with an emphasis on the ‘wins’ while playing fair.

Knives are no different then any collectibles.  The collection is going to have a retail ‘fair market’ value as well as a wholesale ‘liquidation’ value.

The retail ‘fair market’ value can be the price you paid for a current production knife or the average of the actual sale prices on a secondary market.  Bear in mind, the sales prices have to be as current as possible.  The secondary market might be through Ebay, one of the forums or knife shows.  You have to bear in mind that just because you paid $100 for a knife doesn’t always translate into a $100 valuation when it comes time to sell.  A lot of Case collectors who paid premium prices 10-20 years ago haven’t seen any appreciation in value on a lot of their pieces.

A big mistake collectors make in placing a value on their collection is watching the “ask” prices on Ebay.  We all like to believe our stuff is worth more than it really is and “ask” prices feed that desire.  If three guys are asking $200, $150 and $100 for the same knives, what is that knife really worth?  Most of us would probably say our knife must be close to the $200 figure.

When I value a collection or try to price pieces I’m selling, I use the Ebay “Sold” listings as one guide (but use caution with that as well).  You can find Sale prices for the same item differ by 2x.  When a couple of people get into a bidding war prices can spin out of control.  So just because you find a 46 Whaler that sold for $500, don’t assume that’s the ‘going’ price.  Keep looking and find the average.

Just a quick story about Ebay selling.  I have close to 6000 Ebay transactions but haven’t sold on Ebay for a number of years.  It’s where TSA Knives got it’s start.  I’m not a huge fan of selling on Ebay due to cost, Ebay’s sometimes capricious approach to what they allow to be listed and their feedback system.  Anyway, a number of years ago a fellow bought a CRKT M16 from me through an Ebay auction.  This was a $26 retail knife at the time.  I had started it with a penny bid to open but the final sale price ran north of $40.  I was stunned and ecstatic.

About a week after the auction I received an email from the buyer absolutely ripping me a new one for taking advantage of him.  It seems his buddies were having a good laugh at his expense telling him he could have picked up the knife for around $25 instead of the $40 he paid.  Even after explaining that HE was the one that determined the final sales price through his bid, NOT me, he still left a scathing negative feedback on Ebay about what a crook I was.  It was good for a laugh and drove home the fact that fair market value isn’t always determined by an individual sale.

Another source I personally use to determine fair value is a website called Worthpoint.  I really like this site as it not only records EBay sales but also picks up other auctions as well.  Worthpoint is a subscription site but well worth the money if you’re evaluating a larger collection of mixed makers.  This was the only place I could find any sales info on the Brandstetter Bowie as well as some great background info.

The other thing that’s helpful, Worthpoint will typically have records of sales that can cover a broad range of sale dates.  By looking at info that might cover a 10 year span, you can get a sense of which direction the prices have moved.  You can also find pricing for items that haven’t sold on Ebay recently.  Seeing these trends can help give you a sense if your collection hass appreciated or depreciated with time.

In some cases it gets frustrating as you can find radical price swings in both directions for no apparent reason.   That’s when you have to flip a coin and decide how to interpret that.   Once you’ve established a current sale price profile, you’re on your way to having a handle on what your collection is worth.  At retail.

Let’s assume you’ve reached a point in life where you want to simplify your life and the knife collection has to go.  (Or maybe someone else has made that decision for you)  Now what?  You’ve got a pretty good idea what the collection is worth at ‘retail’ but what can you reasonably expect to net.

If I’m buying a collection one of the first questions I ask after I know what’s being offered for sale is…how much are you hoping to get for the collection.  Of course everyone wants and expects to get the fair retail market value but good luck with that.  If the anticipated expectations are too high, I won’t spend much time wasting each others time.

As a seller you’ve determined what you feel is a fair retail value.  Now you have to take a number of things into consideration to come up with a realistic sale price so ask yourself the following questions.

  1. How much time do I want to spend listing each knife on an auction site.  Figure at least 15-30 minutes per knife.
  2. What are the listing, transaction, credit card, PayPal fees and postage going to cost? 
  3. Do you have shipping envelopes/boxes/tape/packing material
  4. Are you going to accept returns
  5. What are you going to do with the items that don’t sell
  6. How much time and effort are you willing to commit to the project

Disposing of a couple dozen knives isn’t that big an issue.  But when you have a collection of 50, 100 or several hundred knives, it gets to be a major project.  Also understand you can quickly lose anywhere from 10-20% in costs related to selling the collection.  The good stuff will sell with ease, the others will take some time and possibly deep discounting.  And the buyer of a collection is going to be considering the same issues when they’re putting together an offer.

Then the desire to sell off the choice pieces on Ebay or to a dealer becomes tempting.  You may have a couple of pieces that have doubled or tripled in value since you bought them and you want to maximize your return.  Consider that if you sell off the prime pieces it can/will diminish the overall desirability/value of the collection to a buyer.

If I’m evaluating a collection, I will pay more for it if there are higher end or key pieces that will help offset the lower value of some of the other pieces.  There’s no way I’m interested in buying a collection of Farm & Field tools in different handle colors.  Now if the other half of the collection is made up of Randalls, older Stag GEC’s etc, that’s a game changer.

I like higher quality merchandise but if a seller hopes to optimize what they get for their collection, I don’t recommend selling off just the choice pieces with the hope of moving the others later on.   Very few buyers are interested in a group of ‘average’ knives unless they can be bought on the cheap.  Personally, I’d rather buy a mixed collection of 100 nice knives than a small group of 10 choice knives.   If one of those 10 choice knives has a flaw it’s harder to recover the loss with the remaining 9.  It’s a numbers game.

I’m always interested in buying collections and hopefully this info will help some of you out if you’re thinking of selling.  We all know our stuff is worth more then somebody’s willing to pay us but we have to stay grounded in reality.

 

And the Winner Is…..

First, a little insight into my methodology.  Every purchaser was assigned a number in the order the tickets were sold.  If the first purchaser bought three tickets, he/she had numbers 1, 2, 3.  The second purchaser bought 1 ticket he had number 4, etc.  I then use an online random number generator which picks the number for me.  No hand in the hat. And so a winner is drawn.

One last detail is I’m really happy to announce that through your participation we were able to raise a total of $680 for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Now consider GEC raised nearly $1500 for this knife through the Rendezvous Raffle.  That means the combined total raised by this knife for the Wounded Warrior Project is almost $2200!!!!  Folks, I think that’s fantastic.  Thanks to all of you for participating.

Oh…. I suppose you’d like to know who the winner is, no?  Congratulations goes to Gary Kifer.   Considering over $2200 was raised in total, I guess this means you own probably one of the most valuable GEC knives in existence!

Collection Listings

I’ve started working through some of the knives I’ve accumulated from collection purchases.  It can get a bit tedious as there are a lot of the Case knives I’m not that familiar with.  In addition, I’ve come across a number of the Schatt & Morgan’s from early 2000 such as the Premier series that I haven’t had a lot of experience with.  There have also been some S&M’s that I’ve not had the opportunity to see before such as this gem, a Premier Humpback Lockback Whittler.

Humpback Whittler Lockback Collection
“Premier” Humpback Lockback Whittler

I wish I had taken the time to shoot a few more pictures of the springs on this knife.  It had to be a major PITA to build.  Probably why we don’t see many of them!  The fit and finish on the Premier’s I’ve seen so far has been excellent with mirror polished blades.

Another beauty is the 538311 Burnt Stag below.  The stag on this knife is absolutely gorgeous if you like gnarly stag.  This comes from an era when I felt GEC was at the top of their game when it came to high quality stag.  What really helps make this knife a gem is the fact it is 1 of just 11 made.

GEC 53 Burnt Stag Collection
538311 Burnt Stag

And so it goes.  When I buy a collection I rarely get a chance to thoroughly look at each and every knife at the time of purchase.  I put a lot of faith and trust into what the seller tells me he’s offering.  As a result, there are surprises.  Not all of them good!  So when I find a few knives like these in the lot it’s always rewarding.

Ever so often I’ll be asked if I have a specific pattern in stock.  It might be a GEC, Case, Schatt & Morgan and so on.  It’s really easy to search the store inventory just using the “Search” option.  All you need is a keyword and you’re on your way.  The Case knives are a great example of simplifying a search for a knife.  There are so many models that I didn’t make an effort to break each one into it’s own listing.  If you’re looking for a Texas Toothpick, enter the word “Toothpick”.  Don’t worry about using the word Texas or the model number.  “Toothpick” will pull up any knives listed under that title.  Just a single keyword will usually get you on your way.

The next month is going to be busy.  In another week I’m heading back up north for a few more days of camping before freeze up.  Then I have a Gun Show mid October and a week later we head to North Dakota for the Pheasant Hunt and a little prairie dog shooting.  Plus its the time of year when you start thinking about buttoning things up for winter.  I’ll keep adding more knives from the collections to the store but I know it’s going to be slow going.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that the raffle for the Wounded Warrior Project knife will conclude on Monday so be sure to purchase your tickets soon.  The response has been good so far and someone is going to end up with a really nice collectible.

GEC Gunstock 1 of 1 WWP Raffle

I was the lucky winner of the GEC 44 White Pearl LG knife that GEC raffled off for the Wounded Warrior Project at their 2018 Rendezvous.  This was a 1 of a kind Northfield Gunstock with White Pearl LG handles.  Beautiful knife!   I’m happy to raffle it off once again to help raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Sepcial Factory Assembly 44 Gunstock White Pearl LG

Starting today, you can purchase tickets by going into the storefront and going to the “Raffle” category ( or click on this link:  Raffle Tickets )  Pretty simple process.  Tickets are $20 each and puts your name in the hat one time for each $20 ticket purchased.  The winner will be announced next Monday, September 10 at Noon CST.

Proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie Provenance

Some time back, I picked up a reproduction 1850 Sheffield Bowie built by Larry Brandstetter which I wrote up in a previous post.  Luckily, the individual I got the knife from was able to give me Mr Brandstetter’s name but couldn’t offer a lot more info.  A search of the internet didn’t turn up a whole lot more information.   All I really knew for certain was that this was one of the finest handcrafted knives I’ve been lucky enough to possess.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

The workmanship and attention to detail on the knife was impeccable.  The only identifying markings on the knife were on the ricasso.  It was marked with the makers initials and what I recently had confirmed, the serial #007.

Half Horse, Half Alligator Pommel
Nickel Silver Frog Clip

I bring this up for anyone interested in Larry Brandstetter and his knives as the amount of info about him is sparse at best for a knifemaker of his skill level.  The knife sold last week and I had the privilege of putting it in the hands of a personal friend of  Larry Brandstetter. He graciously shared a few details about the knife and Larry.  Here are a couple of excerpts from our email exchange you might find of interest.

“I just ordered and paid for the Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie.  Larry was a close personal friend of mine.  I have one small boot knife he made (not marked-way before he became known for his Sheffield Bowies).  I always wanted one of his Bowies but at the time could not come up with the money.  I used to go to his basement shop and watch him work on his bowies while we shot the breeze.  He and I were members of the same muzzle loading gun club and shot together monthly for years.  He also made some beautiful flintlocks.  I was at his funeral.  We had talked on the phone just a couple of weeks before his untimely death. I will treasure this knife and all the memories I have of my dear friend.  For your future reference, the number stamped on the piece is indeed the serial number.  I may have even watched him work on this piece.  Larry and I did knife making at the same time, though mine never achieved the craftsman ship of his.  I went on to scrimshaw and from time to time would supply Larry with ivory for use on his knives.  He did all the castings on knife and sheath himself.  The rifle he built for himself was a German Jager with swamped barrel, stock adorned with whale ivory and silver fittings.  On the cheekpiece was an ivory Prussian eagle with silver shield and silver wire inlay.  On the sliding wood patch box were two carved ivory cherubs holding a scroll which stated (in German) “All your skill is of no avail if an angel urinates in your touch hole.”  I miss him greatly and have searched for one of his Bowies for years.  I’ve finally found one.  Thank you very much.  Thank you for the writeup on the piece.  I can tell you are a fan of quality knives.  Larry would have been proud.”

In a later exchange after he received the knife he sent me the following info:

“…..I believe the hilt is made of linen micarta. ……… I remember him making a knife with micarta because I commented that for not much more the guy could have had genuine ivory. He was polishing out the blade in his shop at the time. Could have been this knife. Larry also did some folders and one lovely push dagger. This bowie has certainly brought back some wonderful memories.”

I had to think about the comment regarding ivory costing only slightly more then micarta.  Then I realized that 30+ years ago he was probably right!

It doesn’t happen very often but it just really feels great being able to put someone together with a knife or gun that had personal meaning to them like this.   While I enjoyed my brief ownership of this knife, putting it in the hands of a personal friend of the makers is a great feeling.    Many thanks for sharing this personal information with all of us.

Hess Bird & Trout Review

The Hess Bird & Trout has been in the store lineup for a number of years and I’ve wanted to try one out but just haven’t done it!   My recent field trip was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Hess Bird & Trout Black Leather

It’s a great representation of all of the Bird & Trout knives that have gone before it including the Marble’s, Western, etc.  If you’ve followed the pricing on some of these older B&T’s, they’ve gotten expensive.  The Hess Bird & Trout offers up the same features at a much more reasonable price.

Measuring a trim 6.75″ OAL with a 3.375″ 1095 blade, weighing 2.3 ounces,  the Bird & Trout is a compact package.  I have fairly large hands and it’s not a knife I’d want to spend a lot of time cutting with.  But that’s not what it was designed for.

I don’t want to call the Hess Bird & Trout ‘delicate’ because that’s not accurate.  It’s just a compact knife made for field dressing fish or birds.  You wouldn’t tackle dressing out a deer with it but I have no doubt with some patience you could.

While I was camping I didn’t get an opportunity to do any fishing so I didn’t get a chance to try it out on a ‘trout’.  I did use it for some food prep and it was a great tool around the table.  The convex ground blade held an edge very well for 1095 and I didn’t find a need to touch things up.  One of the things I’m tempted to try is a flat bevel on the blade just to see how it works out.  I typically only use a convex grind on my thicker blades and the Bird and Trout might work just as well without it.

The stacked leather handle didn’t get slippery when it was wet and lends a great ‘classic’ look to the knife.  The one point to keep in mind is, typical of all 1095 steel, it’s unforgiving if you don’t clean it thoroughly after use.  It’s the perfect example of a knife that I use Frog Lube on.  The Frog Lube is food friendly and does a fantastic job cleaning and protecting metal surfaces.  And it doesn’t stink or taste like motor oil.

While using it I had to keep reminding myself that the Hess Bird & Trout is what I’d classify as a specialty knife.  It’s not an all around ‘utility’ tool you’re going to use for trimming brush, batoning kindling wood or dressing big game.  It’s made for lighter tasks and does a great job on them!  I’d recommend having one in your kit to fill the gap between your traditional folder and your larger bushcraft knife.

Baddest Bee Fire Fuses Review

One of the items I took up North to try out were the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses.

Fire Fuse 3 Pak

As the name implies, they’re a ‘fuse’ for lighting fires in the outdoors.  Made from a cotton material that’s impregnated with a wax type accelerant, they’re very easy to ignite with a Fire Steel.  By my rough estimate, it burns at a rate of about an inch a minute.

Fray the end slightly

I make it a practice to carry some pieces of Fatwood with me when I’m camping.  The Fatwood makes lighting a fire so much easier particularly if you’re experiencing wet conditions and dry tinder isn’t easy to come by.  It lights easily and burns for a long time.  It’s perfect for getting your campfire going and the Fire Fuses are the perfect way to get things going.

After I stacked a bit of kindling (which was not cut particularly small), I shaved a piece of the Fatwood and inserted about an inch long piece of the Fire Fuse into a  notch on the Fatwood.

A couple of strikes on the Fire Steel and we’ve got fire.

At this point, lay the Fatwood stick under the kindling and get the coffee pot ready!

I’m seriously impressed with the Fire Fuses for a couple of reasons.  It’s easy to light with a Fire Steel, it’s very resistant to getting blown out by a breeze and it’s waterproof.  It doesn’t take a whole lot to get things going, even if you have relatively damp kindling.  But I really like the fact they used their head regarding the packaging.

Rather then just sticking a few pieces in a plastic bag, the manufacturer was bright enough to package it in a water resistant tube with caps on either end.  The package of 8 fuses is small and easy to fit in a pocket.   If your fingers are cold and stiff, simply pop the caps off both ends and push the fuses out from the opposite end.  Cutting the 8 fuses into one inch lengths means about 24 fires per tube.  And each package contains 3 tubes of 8!!  Not a bad deal.  I’m impressed and if you spend any time in the woods, I feel the product is well worth the price.  Along with a Fire Steel, the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses make for an inexpensive bit of insurance should you need a quick fire to warm up or dry off.

 

Field Trip Return & Rare GEC Gunstock 1 of 1

I had mentioned previously that I was lucky enough to be the winner of a rare GEC Gunstock.  In fact, it’s a one of a kind finished with White Pearl LG handles.  (I had mistakenly said before that it was MOP).

One of a kind GEC 44 White Pearl LG

Great Eastern offered it as a raffle item to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project during their 2018 Rendezvous.  It’s a gorgeous knife and makes me long for the days past when GEC ran some of  their knives with premium handle materials.  My intention in the near future is to offer the knife once again as a fund raising vehicle for the Wounded Warrior Project.  I haven’t decided if it will be by raffle or an online auction.

I returned from a trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters area Thursday nite and am just finishing catching up.  Actually, it wasn’t to bad as there weren’t any boxes of knives waiting for me when I got home.  I did get a notice that the GEC 44 Gunstock Stags are in transit.  Not sure if I’ll see them today or more likely, Monday.

It was a fun week and next week, I’ll share some details of a few items I took with me to do some field testing with.  Getting out in the field and actually using some of the store items is so much better then just regurgitating the marketing literature hype.

On a sad note, I did retire an old friend.  This coffee pot has traveled to the northwoods with us for 40+ years.  I couldn’t possibly guess how many 50 gallon barrels of coffee have been brewed in it.  The wood smoke had gotten so embedded in the metal that I couldn’t scrub it off and you got a bit of a smoky flavor in your morning coffee.  Sunday morning the little percolator top broke and that was it.  We searched all over Grand Marais for a replacement to no avail.

40 years of service ain’t too bad.

I thought about upgrading to a new, fancy stainless steel pot but just didn’t feel right doing it.  A search of Amazon turned up an exact duplicate pot for the princely sum of $15.27 shipped so I stayed with tradition and hit ‘order’.  It falls into that category that you don’t tinker with perfection.

No Shipping Next Week

Today, Friday 8/17 will be the last day I will be shipping any orders out until next Friday, 8/24/18.  I’m closing down operations for a week to make a field trip to the Northlands.  No fun and games, understand, just some serious field testing of a couple of items in the store.  If I sell it in the store, I like to make sure it works.

Some time back I had a conversation with a guy and we got to laughing about some of the video ‘reviews’ online.  Its the ‘new’ releases that got us laughing.  Two minutes of video showing the package that came from the post office followed by a minute and a half unwrapping it.  THEN there’s the obligatory rolling the knife around the camera lens showing the knife from all angles until vertigo sets in for the viewer.

Probably nothing wrong with that type of review but it doesn’t do much for me.  I prefer to know how the knife works in the field.  There are some great field test videos on line.  Probably one of the best I recall was on the Fallkniven A1 that the guy put through the destruction test.  In fact, just google “Fallkniven A1 Destruction Test“.   There are about 6 different videos and it shows just how tough that knife is under incredibly extreme conditions.  I don’t plan on doing any videos but I do like to snap a few photo’s to give folks an idea how things work in the field.

But I digress.  Even though I won’t be shipping until next Friday, the store will remain open to accept orders.  I try to check emails once a day (if I’ve got cell service) but won’t be answering the phone.

GEC Next Release and Rendezvous Knife Winner!

In a conversation with Chris I was told the next release following the Stag 44’s and the huge run of 14’s will be a rerun of the #99 Wallstreet.  These have been run with Clip, Spear and Wharncliffe blades.  I have no idea what the offering will be this time around.  The only thing for sure is it’s another allocation knife so I’m assuming quantities will be limited unless they open it up to SFO’s.  Then all bets are off regarding quantities.

https://i0.wp.com/greateasterncutlery.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/991114LB-Gabon-Ebony1-700x456.jpg?resize=604%2C393Picture is offered for reference only.  Actual 2018 release may be different.

My understanding at this point is that the schedule for the balance of 2018 from GEC will include the completion of the 44 Gunstocks, the run of 14 Boys Knives and they’ll finish the year with the #99 Wallstreet.

As with the upcoming 14’s, TSA Knives won’t be offering an early order option due to the fact we can’t be assured of the quantity of knives we’ll receive.  In fact going forward I’ll most likely be eliminating the early order option with a few exceptions.

It came as a surprise that I was the winner of the GEC Rendezvous Knife Raffle for the Wounded Warrior Project.

2018 GEC Rendezvous Knife

This is a one of a kind 44 Gunstock finished with MOP handles.  I was thrilled to win it and am happy to announce that once I get it and have a few days to look it over, I’ll be offering it up for raffle/auction again to raise more funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Chris said that they didn’t have a final total yet, but the preliminary guess was that the Rendezvous Raffle raised $1000 or better for the WWP.  That’s fantastic and I look forward to adding to that.  It’ll be a couple of weeks at least before it’s offered again so pass the word and keep an eye on the blog.

A final note regarding shipping.  I’m heading out on a field trip for a few days so I won’t be shipping any orders starting Saturday the 18th running through most of next week.  I’ll put up another notice Friday but make a note.