Knife Collecting - 10 How-To Tips

There's a big difference between some knives kicking around the house and a knife Collection with a capitol C. Here are 10 tips to take your collection up a notch.

1.Organize your Collection: If you collect knives, you ought to know a little about them, right? Use this knowledge to organize them. It's really up to you how to do this, but give it some thought. Appoint yourself resident expert. Pick some categories, and some sub-categories. For example --and it totally depends on your collection-- fixed blades and folders. Then divide these categories into American and foreign, and then maybe categories based on the material used to make handles. This might seem silly, but then you...

2.Arrange it Lay your knives out on the table per your categories, and get all artistic. But use the arranging to support your organization. This is the challenge --combining logic with artistry. Imagine yourself as a museum curator -a type of expert after all. How can arrangement, (and origination) tell a story.? How can it help other people --or your wife-- finally understand what a wonderful collection you have? It might help to...

3. Label it Labels may be the single biggest difference between the fore mentioned pile of knives rattling around the house and a collection with a capital C. The maker and when & where you acquired it at a minimum. Remember you are the expert and as such, a little compulsive behavior is only to be expected.

4. Tuck it away safely Truth to tell, all the above connects with the where and how of how you store &/or display your collection. Safety is important --knives have edges after all-- and if you aren't concerned about people and their skin, carelessness might damage the knife!

A nice walnut drawer case with lots of shallow drawers or a custom built-in display on the wall with concealed spot light would be very nice indeed, but not cheap. Not ready to stand the cost? Drop by the container or local cardboard-box store and make a small investment in some appropriate boxes --with lids. Or is there one or more drawers in your world where your knives live? Well and good, but take it up a notch, and...

5. Use Fabric. About half the world is made out of women and they do the fabric thing with style and grace. If you are intimidated my fabric stores, (as was your author until he actually went into a few), find yourself a women, be nice to her, and have her take you by the hand. Learn about fleece, velvet, chamois, and such. Use it to line the drawers where your knives live. But you MUST be on guard against tarnish -especially if you have silver or silver plated knives. Unbleached cotton is best. Ask the fabric story lady to show you quilt batting. Heavy synthetics like ultra-suede are the most problematic. The later give off curious gasses that can tarnish --or worse-- shiny metal. If your collection deserves it, Google 'tarnish cloth,' learn about it, and make the investment.

6. Documentation / Reference Materials Once again, you are the expert on your collection, but not so expert that you don't rely on the odd reference book. Make them a part of your collection --or an adjunct off to the side of it anyway. Get yourself a nice little notebook or blank journal and keep track of your collection. While a little record keeping is an important part of being a Collector w/ a capitol C, it may also serve the more important function of getting the insurance company to pay-up it you suffer a loss.

7. Assemble a Collector's Tool-box Put this in the same drawer -or on the same shelf-- as your reference material. What do you use when fiddling about with your knives? Oil? polish cloth? 0000 steel wool and shoe-polish? (Shoe polish is easier to find, cheaper, and comes in more colors than the snooty carnauba stuff. And steel wool and shoe polish is a museum curator's tricky little secrete.) Add a little bottle of paint thinner, (or turpentine if you don't like the smell), and you have the where-with-all to clean and pretty up a funky old knife from the flea market..

8.Insure It Once again, it depends on the value of your collection, Very valuable to you after all, but be honest with yourself, just how valuable is it to the other guy? But if it is that valuable, it may be worth a chat with your insurance agent. It may end up costing you a few bucks more a month. Or it may not. Insurance is a complicated subject. (Remember the bit above about documentation.)

9.Learn about desiccants & ultra violet light It's doubtful you will need to worry about bugs eating your knives, but if you have a problem with tarnish or --heaven forbid-- rust, looking into a desiccants might be worthwhile. UV light, (sunlight), will degrade anything organic --bone handles for example. It may not happen quickly --particularly if you keep your collection in a drawer, but displayed on the wall in a sunny room? There are ways to slow the degradation down to almost nothing, Learn them.

10. Take a kid along Consider all the academic stuff in your collection. The history of this knife --or knives like it. Who (what profession), uses it, and why is it shaped he way it is? The metallurgy that makes this knife different from that one. Why did you organize things the way you did? Wouldn't it be great if your passion rubbed off on your kid or grand-kid? But what if he or she thought knives were dull, but was ga-ga for bugs, or rocks, or whatever? Review the list above and see what you can do to help the young collector become a Collector.

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