My First Time


No, no, you nosy deviants!  That happened when I was 17.  What I’m talking about is knives – and magazines about knives.

While never needing or wanting to actually use them, I’ve always had a fascination for all types of weapons – how they’re built, how they’re used.  Early in 1991 I’d been noticing a particular magazine among others on the sales rack, Knives Illustrated.  Finally, in the summer, it was my first time to purchase a copy.

Chugach Dragon

It carried a story about a $20,000 sword, inlaid with gold, and adorned with jewels.  I had discovered Art Knives.  I was hooked!  Soon, I was sending away money to ensure a year’s worth of these printed treasures.  This was my first time that I’d ever subscribed to a magazine.

For the first several years, they had a contest where you could send in a postcard to be put into a draw to win a hand-made, donated knife, from a maker looking for some cheap promotion.  Every issue, I faithfully sent in a card, even if the featured knife was not to my taste or use.


Suddenly, in my third year of trying, back before the Internet, I received a real letter.  I had been chosen to receive a little three-finger skinning knife, made by a cutler in Orlando.  All I had to do was send a letter to the magazine, lauding them and proving the contest was real, and a letter of thanks to the maker.  Done and quickly done.  Soon a package arrived, and it was my first time to own a handmade knife.


The letter from the magazine said that it was worth $35, a ridiculous claim.  The handmade leather sheath alone is worth that much.  Somebody slipped a zero; the package is worth $350.  Note the grooves milled into the top and bottom, to control the blade, and prevent slipping.


I told the maker that, if I ever got near Orlando, I’d stop in and personally thank him – and forgot about it.  A couple of years later, my brother had bought a trailer in a park in central Florida, and needed to go down to get it opened up and ready to rent for the winter season.  Would I like to accompany him on a whirlwind, 9-day trip.  Oh boy, my first time going to Florida!


The brother’s trailer park was close to Orlando.  I tried to call the maker, but later found that the phone was in his wife’s name.  After about 4 days, when the brother could spare both me and the van at the same time, I drove over to his address, fuelled by hope.

I was fortunate.  He was at home, and gave me a couple of hours of his morning.  I got to see his neighbor’s lovingly restored 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza; he gave me a tour of his workshop, showing me all his tools, and different styles of knives he built.  While the Internet might have existed, this was before I even had dial-up connection, much less high-speed.  I couldn’t just research him.


Since he couldn’t research Ontario, he didn’t know that most residential, and all farming is below the Great Lakes, with mining to the north.  He had a map with pins stuck in it, of all the people who’d received one of his knives.  He had my pin in the muskeg, somewhere off Hudson Bay.  I moved it.

His wife was some kind of medium-sized wheel at the University.  Several years later, she accepted a more prestigious position at the University of Connecticut, and he quietly loaded all his tools and moved north.  His production may have gone down a bit, because of the need to shovel snow.

This knife is well designed and built, though there’s not much of it.  I’m not a hunter/skinner, so I have no actual use for it.  It languishes away in a drawer, with several other of my acquisitions.  I keep it because it was a first, accompanying several other firsts.  Perhaps one day my heirs can get a little money for it.

11 thoughts on “My First Time

  1. I knew there was a reason I like you! I’ve been a knife nut since I was old enough to be told I wasn’t old enough to have a knife. Nice to be reading you again!


  2. Good story, Archon. Being that’s such a good knife, it’ll surely gain in value, and whoever inherits it is bound to get a nice little sum for it.


  3. BrainRants says:

    It looks nice. I’m guessing the blade is hand-made as well from the heat discoloration of the metal.


    • Archon's Den says:

      While some makers forge their knives, this guy used stock removal. This blade is of D2 tool steel. Only after I published the photos did I notice the brown stain. Oh no! I’ve left it in the sheath, and allowed it to rust. I pulled it out, and you could comb your hair in the mirror polish. My suspicion is that, like the inverted image inside a spoon, what you see is my brown tee-shirt leaning over it as I photographed. 😯


  4. garden2day says:

    Such a nice story and nice knife and sheath. I have a great fascination for old weaponry especially swords (new and old). Drool tends to roll when I see one like what is shown in the magazine 😉 .


    • Archon's Den says:

      Another knife lady!? I do attract a different group. I’ve been thinking of doing a photo-blog of some of the blades in the house, including two rather nice Katanas. I was going to assemble a gallery of art knives I saw in Toronto, back in August, and send them to the Baroness, above. If you’d like, I’ll CC a copy to you also. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • garden2day says:

        I wouldn’t call me a knife lady as I am more of an admirer than collector but swords do something for me, lol. My younger daughter is the one who likes to get her hands on various knives-I tried to discourage it. I think it would be awesome for you to give a display on your blog. I am very interested in seeing the Katanas. Yes, please 🙂 to the copy of the Toronto knives. 😀 Oh my, I sound creepy… 😀 Thanks.


  5. […] my recent My First Time post, I showed pictures of a little three-finger skinner knife I won.  My chiropractor also has an […]


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