Act Sharp. Get To The Point!

The wife and I have been going to Knife shows to view hand-made, custom, and Art Knives for about 22 years.  The first one we became aware of, that we could afford the time and money to attend, was in Detroit.  The trip to that show was a real adventure, perhaps the basis for a future post.  Detroit is about a four hour drive.

Soon after, we found that there were knife shows in Toronto, only an hour away.  Actually, back then, there were three shows a year, hosted by the Canadian Knife Collectors Association.  Shows organized by collectors, embarrassing!  Soon the Canadian makers organized themselves into a guild and took over the shows.  They’re down to two shows now, with talk of dropping the fall one.

Makers came in from the Yukon, B.C., the prairies, Quebec, the Maritimes, and the northern U.S.  Then, 9/11 happened.  Overnight, makers were not allowed to carry knives onto airplanes.  A maker flying from Hawaii to L.A. lost $30,000 worth of knifes from cargo.  Soon shows shrank, because they were limited to makers who lived close enough to drive.  The Detroit show went from 200 exhibitors, to 50.  The Toronto show has gone from 50, to about 20.  Still, we go!

This year there were four makers from Montreal and area, a 7 hour drive.  Their French business cards list them as joalliers – jewelers.  Their knives were elegant, gem-adorned, gold-inlaid pieces of art.

The most recent Toronto show was held March 9 and 10.  With the wife’s deteriorating mobility and increased breathing problems, she often stays at home.  Bright and early Saturday morning, (It was early, but I was none too bright, with three hours sleep.  The son had been up since 6 PM Fri.) I took the son, the grandson and his fiancée, and we went to Toronto.

I got to socialize with makers I’ve known for years.  We discussed those who have passed on, or had to leave the business, and some of the new, up-and-comers who are taking their places.  We all looked at knifes and swords, and supplies, and non-knife stuff that cutlers (A name, meaning knife-maker.) make.

The five-dollar work-knife the grandson bought last October has been extensively used, causing wear to the lock, which creates a safety hazard.  He paid $60 to buy a much more reliable replacement, prettier too!  The son also paid $60 to get a different-style lock-back, to replace the twenty-some year old Swiss Army Knife he carries.

Last year, and the year before, he paid $300 for art-engraved, solid titanium hook-type belt-buckles, which he displays with his utility/fighter knife, and the Katana sword he won last year.  The door prize this year was a pattern-welded Damascus-steel knife with a strip of Canadian Maple-Leaf flags down its blade.

One maker had a matching brother/sister pair of knives.  A gentle S-shape, the blade down, and the carved coca bola-wood handle up, with a matching carved wooden sheath.  The his-knife a little larger, but each at $300.  The grandson and the fiancée each wanted to buy one.  She had cash in her wallet, but the work-knife purchase had left him short.  He went up to the ATM in the lobby, but it was out of order.  The desk-clerk sent him to the building across the street, where he got cash at another ATM.  Just as he re-entered the room, another guy picked up “his” knife, and bought it for a friend.

The grandson learned to “reserve” a knife, even put a deposit on it.  Fortunately, the maker is a relatively new displayer, and lives here in Kitchener.  It would take about a year to work it into his schedule, and it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but if the grandson asks, he’ll make another, to complete the pair.

The son bought a shooting star, literally.  One of our friend/makers had a small billet of steel made from a piece of meteorite.  Only able to get a couple of knives from the piece, he cut and polished a few shapes from the scrap, including a thumbnail-sized, star-shaped pendant, on a rawhide thong.  He paid $60 for that also.  A piece of a star doesn’t come cheap.  He also looked at a beautiful titanium art-knife folder, engraved with skulls and crosses, like one of the buckles he bought from the same maker.  Boy, I wish I lived at home with my parents, and could afford pretty stuff.  Well, it does all live at my house, so I can gaze and fondle it.

After the show, we went down the street to a sub shop for lunch.  On a busy street, by the airport, there is no sidewalk, just a paved shoulder up to a tiny parking lot.  While we sat there, a black Lincoln stretch-limo pulled up and stopped.  Five minutes later, a black Cadillac pulled in behind.  A questionable-looking driver got out and walked up, carrying a briefcase.  The rear window rolled down, the briefcase was handed in, a different briefcase was passed out, and they rolled away in opposite directions.  Another “What The Hell Did I Just See?”  That wasn’t a drug, or weapons, or industrial espionage deal??!  Nah, the driver just took his wife’s briefcase this morning, with the wrong lunch.  Yeah, that’s it.

I finally nudged the son into applying for his passport.  The wife cut his hair and trimmed his beard.  Now he only looks like the second-in-command to an Arab terrorist.  He got the requisite photos taken, had his Mom fill in the last of the application form, and I drove him down to the passport office on Thursday.  I’ve been there before, and know where to park.

The clerk told him that they were scheduling to mail out passports, applied for that day, on March 21.  There’s the spring knife show in Detroit, coming up on April 26/27.  Unless the bureaucracy really fouls things up, he’s taking the Friday off work, and the two of us will go.  If something does get screwed up, the wife says she’ll be happy to go again.

Even if nobody gets propositioned this time, there should be enough of interest for another post.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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12 thoughts on “Act Sharp. Get To The Point!

  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Sounds like you guys had fun! I bet the star-shaped pendant is really cool.

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  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    The biggest knife I own is my naval officer’s sword, made by Hilborn Hamburger of Solingen, Germany. It has standard, ornate naval engraving on both sides and was a required part of the uniform because I was straight Navy Line. Reserve officers weren’t required to buy them.

    My most useful knife, soon to be legal by the TSA I hope, is my little Swiss Army penknife. It is one of those inventions whose design, with its dual-function screw driver, scissors, file, tweezers, toothpick and opener, approaches perfection, a distinction it shares with the disposable stainless-steel razor, the paper clip and intermittent windshield wiper blades.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      The son’s new work, lock-back is actually in addition to a little Swiss Army unit, much like yours. Now he carries two knives to work, one heavier, to preclude any damage to the very useful multi-tool.
      While not “my style”, I’ve always been impressed by military dress sabres. May I ask how expensive one is, and if they are carried, sharpened? I remember reading of Robert Heinlein, scrimping to purchase one, when he entered the service.

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      • Jim Wheeler says:

        You know, it’s strange but I actually remember what the sword cost. Together with the leather sword belt and brass-fitted scabbard it was about $212 in 1959. I think it stuck in my mind because I had to pay for it out of my savings. Midshipman pay is 1/2 that of an Ensign’s and at the time was $111.50 a month. I have no idea what they cost now.

        Unlike curved Army or USMC sabres, a Naval sword is narrow and straight as a ruler. It isn’t sharpened for cutting but designed strictly for thrusting.

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  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    P.S. – I just did a search and found one like mine on eBay for $300. I was surprised it was that cheap. – Link: http://arms2armor.com/store/product606.html

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Even machine-made, by a reputable company, I would have guessed a factory-worker’s week’s pay, although your factory worker may vary. The Katana the son won last year would retail at well over $500, perhaps as much as $1000. The claymore -type “alien” sword which caused me to buy my first knife magazine was $20,000, and part of a sponsored display worth $120,000.

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  4. benzeknees says:

    When we lived in NW Ont. we had a woodworker who would bring his wares up to our Christmas Craft & Bake Sale every year. One year I bought hubby a knife with a pearlized crying wolf on the handle. The woodworker had not make the knife, but he had made a beautiful case to hold it. Hubby was thrilled with the gift.

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  5. aFrankAngle says:

    I’ve never been to a knife show, but I can imagine the beauty of the artistic creations. Meanwhile, gotta love the lunch exchange. 😉

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  6. Archon's Den says:

    Everything from the highly functional, to the expensively beautiful, if only we could convince the frightened sheep that these are *tools* and *Art*, and not Weapons. May 11/2012, I published a post about another parking lot deal like this one. 🙂

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