I have to admit, I haven’t been watching the knife industry very closely this past year. Since I sold TSA Knives, LLC to Erin it’s been kind of nice to kick back and not have to worry about trying to keep everyone happy. Erin’s younger, more patient and just a much nicer person then I am, so it’s worked well for both of us!!!
In the last few months I’ve chatted with some of my old customers I stay in touch with. We’ve discussed the changes in collecting (specifically GEC knives) and lamented the passage of the ‘good ole days’. This prompted me to check in on some of the other dealers websites, GEC site and Facebook page.
Most of the dealer sites are, for the most part, devoid of any GEC knives. I know the early orders on new releases has been stronger then ever and when they hit the stores, they’re gone before they get listed. Demand is high and supply is limited at best. Some dealers used to brag about their early reserve system and how fair it was. Now I think you’d best have a good working relationship with your dealer.
Checking the GEC Facebook page I was surprised to see there hasn’t been anything posted since December of last year. No mention of their annual Rendezvous. All in all, it appears they’ve abandoned the Facebook page. It seems they feel there’s really no need for marketing. That’s too bad.
The prices on the secondary market are through the roof. The thought of $90 knives selling for 3 or 4 times issue price within months of release is incredible. GEC makes a great knife and lack of supply seems to really drive the price through the roof. Handle options are limited to a couple of bone colors, a wood and an acrylic. And interestingly enough, most of the releases are just remakes of previous releases so why argue with success?
A quick look at Worthpoint and Ebay, I don’t see custom knives appreciating at the same rate which is interesting. The price of a Randall #5 has been steady and moved up some in the last 5 years, but it hasn’t come close to the astronomical increase in value of the GEC’s. Case knives which used to be the heart and soul of the collectibles has risen and fallen with the times. Some of the Tony Bose collaboration knives have done well.
When you search Ebay for ‘custom knives’, you’ll find a ton of sub $50 knives from overseas. Some are actually pretty nice looking knives. It gives somebody with a limited budget the opportunity to build a collection of nice knives. Rough Ryder has done an incredible job of getting their foot in the door of the affordable collectibles market. They actually build a pretty nice knife for the money.
In spite of the new offerings, I still miss the days when we saw a constant flow of new products out of GEC that were unique and different. Prices were stable and demand wasn’t pushing the limits of your budget. Handle options were unbelievable by todays standards. Orphan knives, one of a kind, super short runs, life was good (and affordable).
At the last few shows I’ve been to, customers have had cash and were willing to spend it. As long as that lasts, I think we’ll see the high prices for some items continue. The one limiting factor is going to be people’s patience. A lot of my older customers have given up collecting due to the price increases and lack of availability. Sometimes it becomes a question of why would I pay $400 for A when B is higher quality and more unique plus I can buy it for $300.
Collecting is a strange thing. Everybody has preferences and limits. It’s always interesting to see what they are.