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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Saturday’s Sharp Shots

 

These are the photos of the art knives from the knife show I recently attended in Toronto.  The first four are from the South African maker.  They were not on display at this show, but are taken from his advertising.  Note the patterning in the Damascus steel of his blades, and in other photos.

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This one from a lady maker from Wisconsin.  It has no finger nick, but can be opened manually.  If you don’t tell the nice policeman, it also has a hidden spring, and an adjustment stick which turns it into a switchblade.  Don’t you feel safer that the Government has banned these things? Some of the makers put out notes about their knives’ content.

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The next bunch are by a maker who produces fine knives, but also spends hours and hours scrimshawing beautiful pictures on the handles.  Do you like the coming-and-going, wildcat pair, in color?  He did the same type of thing a few years ago, in black and white – chalk on ebony, and carbon on ivory.

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Hardly recognizable as a knife, this was the most artistic (?), and most expensive.  Note the $14,500 price tag.    😯

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Looking somewhat like an Eskimo ulu, this is actually modeled after a European knife/tool used to scrape the excess off the backs of hides for tanning.  Aside from looking pretty, this one has a razor edge, and can be used to prepare food, or at the table to slice roasts, etc.

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The son bought a $1200 Katana from the same guy who made the blade of the Katana that he won, three years ago.  I’ll show pictures of them in a future post.  In the meantime, the rest of these are gorgeous.

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SDC10640SDC10637A razor sharp meteorite knife, cheap at $2300.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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