Everyone has different motivations for collecting things. Some folks collect stuff that’s pretty or unique. Others because it’s ugly, hard to find, from a specific period in time or maybe because you just plain can’t get enough of it. Then, there’s always that hope that maybe, just maybe…. the stuff you’re collecting will be worth a million bucks someday. I’ve been promising my wife for years that all my accumulated ‘wealth’ is just waiting to be cashed in when the time is right!!
I’m not really a collector so much as an accumulator. I tend to hang onto things because they have an appeal to me that I can’t always explain. There’s a box with 30-40 Zippo lighters I’ve ‘accumulated’ all because a few years ago I found an old Zippo in the bottom of a drawer from my college days in the late 60’s. It brought back some fond memories and reminded me how so many of us carried a Zippo whether we smoked or not, cause in my circle of peers, it was just cool to have one! Well, one thing led to another and….anyway, they’ll probably be up for sale in the future.
Over the years this habit has included knives, guns, odd ammo boxes, Zippo lighters, fishing lures, tools and various other curiosities. But what’s been glaringly obvious, is that I’ve never had a clear focus on what I accumulated.
As a Great Eastern Distributor, I’m in the unique position of getting my hands on the ‘first’ production and sometimes pretty rare (like 1 of just 4 or 5) pieces. Of course, if it appeals to me, I may hang onto it.
At first, I pulled one of everything out of each order I received and stuffed it away in the gun safe. Within a few months, I had to start taking guns out of the safe to make room for more Great Eastern knives. My wife explained to me that this was not going to work. The tip off for her was when I suggested buying another, bigger safe.
About the same time, email and face to face conversations with a number of my customers brought some sense to the issue. Customers that were buying one of everything started to get overwhelmed with the large number of different knife patterns and combinations Great Eastern was producing. Within a matter of just a couple months, I started to see many of them developing a focus. Some started to collect patterns, such as the Muskrats or Trappers. Others are into handle material like the Genuine Stag. Unless you’ve got really deep pockets, one of everything is a financial drain.
It’s a rare opportunity that you get to be in on the ground floor of a collectible itme that has value and will increase with time (of course other then Avon Bottles and Beanie Babies). When Case first started making knives, I’ll guarantee there were few individuals savvy enough to start packing away boxes of new Case’s. Plus, even back then, it was expensive.
Let me offer a couple of ideas and observations that might help the beginning collector develop a focus.
Great Eastern has given collectors a fantastic window to gaze into the ‘potential’ future when they annually post there production totals for the past year. Take the time to look not only for knives that were produced in low quantities, but watch for the unusual. Was there a handle material that was only used on one or two patterns. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the only five Left Hand Elk #23’s made. There are a few knives that get run every year that are very low production. Maybe a unique blade configuration (the left handed models) comes out.
Let me give you a little inside info. From time to time, Great Eastern may have some handle material left over from a custom job or a limited edition run of knives. Occasionally, the extra handle material will find it’s way onto a knife that’s not in the ‘regular’ production line. Right now, on my desk is a #73 Tidioute Single Blade Brimstone with the blade marked 735108. I don’t know of another one to exist.
Also pay attention to serial numbers and the production totals. I have 2 of the #23 Single Blade Genuine Stags from 2007. On the GEC production total list for 2007, it states that only 19 of these were made. However, mine are serial numbered in the 40’s. I made a phone call to clear this up and found that there were a total of 55 knives in this run with Genuine Stag. But, 36 of the run used Red Genuine Stag and another 19 in run had Natural Genuine Stag. The Red’s were numbered 1-36 and the Regulars were #37-#55. So even though the serial numbers are well above the listed total made, there were indeed only 19 run with the Naturally colored Genuine Stag but all have serial numbers starting above #36.
The first part of 2008, we saw a number of knives produced using up the remaining 2007 blades. There were knives that came out with the new tang stamps with the model, handle material, #of blades stamped on them. Some without. Again, these are the type of oddities that can become collectible and at the very least, interesting. The left handed blades added another interesting dimension to there collectibility.
A couple of other items to consider. There were only a handful of #23’s made last year with the Great Eastern Trade Mark. AND, the #10’s, 50’s and 60’s were short lived. Don’t know what the future holds for them, but….who knows.
The folks at Great Eastern are doing an incredible job of continually ‘mixing it up’. Whether it’s intentional or accidental, I don’t know. What I do know is that just about the time you’re getting ready to be complacent about what’s out there, they come up with a little different twist. Now we have to get ready for the Linerlocks and all the combinations that might arise from that.
Whether it might be unique blade etches, specific Trade Marks, patterns, handle materials, the very hard to find, Great Eastern has created an incredibly interesting range of possibilities for the collector. Whether you’re a beginner, seasoned collector or just an ‘accumulator, what a great time to be had by all!!!
I know I’ve only scratched the surface on things to watch for when collecting or starting to collect the Great Eastern line. Many of you that have dealt with me at TSA Knives, LLC are much more knowlegeable then I and one individual in particular has accumulated an incredible collection already. I can’t tell you how much I’d appreciate hearing from all of you about your observations, collections and maybe sharing some pictures with us.
But for now… I gotta go buy some more lighter fluid.