The 10 Questions You Must Answer When Describing A Collector Knife

By Jon Warren. Last updated:

When describing collector knives, certain key data points should be included in order to cover the key facts collectors want to know before placing a bid or hitting the BUY IT NOW button. Sure, you can just say 'KNIFE FOR SALE' and upload a photo or two, but you won't make a sale, or if you do, the bid will be far less than if you had taken the time to write a good description.

RULE #1: If you can't sweat the details, don't expect the big bucks.

Here are the attributes of a good knife description:

1. Who made it?

Obviously, the single most important thing you need to tell a collector is WHO MADE THE KNIFE! Is it a knife made by Case, Buck, Randall, Rough Rider? If you can't answer this simple question, you should not be trying to sell knives to collectors.

2. When was it made?

Answering this question can be tough. Dating a Case knife is pretty easy if the knife was made in the 1970s or later, but any earlier than that, it takes some work. Fortunately there are plenty of good reference sites online to help with this. Other makers can be extremely difficult to date. And others can only be dated within a range of years. That's Okay. Do the best you can. If you can't figure out the date of your knife, you are forced to leave out one of the most important data points you have. If you can't take the time to date your Case knife, expect a lower price. You don't get top dollar for being lazy.

3. What kind of knife is it?

Is it a Trapper? Stockman? Folding hunter? Congress? Sure, you could just let the photos show the buyer what type of knife it is, but knowing the type or pattern shows expertise. Expertise instills buyer confidence. Buyers pay more when they feel they are buying from an expert.

4. What is its length?

If it is a fixed blade knife, collectors want to know the total length from tip to tip, and also what the blade length. If a folding knife, what is the total length of the knife with main blade open? Measure from back bolster to tip of main blade. Next for folding knives, you must include the total length of the knife when closed. A typical length description looks like this:
'4 inches closed, 7-1/4 inches open.'

5. What is the knife's model number or tang number?

Almost all knives, and especially Case knives, have a number stamped on one of its blades. This number is very important, and omiting it is a sign of newbie stupidity. Not all knives have a model or tang number, but 90% do. Sometimes the model number is printed on the original box.

6. What kind of handle material does the knife have?

For newbies, the handle is the part of the knife you hold. One of the attributes most cherished by collectors is the handle material. Mother of Pearl. Abalone. Fat india Stag. Even better, Burnt Stag. Or just plain ol' yellow plastic. Handle material plays a large role in the desirability and (therefore) price of a knife.

7. What kind of blade material does it have?

Chrome Vanadium. Stainless Steel. Surgical Steel. Damascus. The type of steel used to make the blades is another desirability factor and affects the price a collector will pay.

8. Does it come with its original Box and sheath (if applicable) and any certificates or paperwork?

MINT IN BOX means everything to collectors nowadays. A rare knife that is loose without its original box, but otherwise in MINT condition, fetches an amount LESS than the same knife with its original box. If you just finished tossing all those pesky boxes in the trash, go dig them out and match your knives to their boxes again.

Your description must include a statement regarding box status. Either 'in original box with paperwork' or 'NO BOX'.


9. What is the condition of the knife?

This is called MAKING THE GRADE. An honest appraisal of the condition of a knife is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT factors in determining its value. Is it 'brand new in original box'? Almost like new but with minor flaws? Describe any visible flaws (visible to the naked eye - you don't have to use an electron microscope). Does it have good snap, are any pins cracked or handles cracked in any way? Are the blades unsharpened or have they been sharpened at some point? Are there any nicks or blemishes or spots on the blades (this is important to note). Obviously, if the knife is in BRAND NEW condition, it is easy to grade. If it is not, describing the flaws is very important to customer satisfaction.

10. Where was it made?

Was the knife made in China? If so, good luck selling it! You need to include something like: 'Made in USA.' or 'Made in Solingen Germany.' in the body of your description.

There you have it. If you follow these 10 steps for writing your knife description, you will have covered most (if not all) the important attributes a collector wants to know before spending money. There are minor points and in some cases additional notes on variations or things like shield types, but 99% of the time these points are not relevant and you can give an expert description without them. We hope this article has been helpful.