Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Conterfeit Randalls

I don’t buy old knives. The guy at the table next to me did. The conversation went:

“Do you buy knives?”

“Sometimes,” said the vendor.

The seller unzipped a Randall Guardian with stacked leather washer handle and concealment sheath. The blade looked good and the leather looked likes it was handled a bit, but well taken care of.

“It’s a nice Randall. I’m not very good with Randall prices.”

“And you call yourself a knife dealer! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? You should know what its worth.” The seller was getting more than a little cranky.

Every once and a while you get a prickly customer and I could see the vendor had dealt with this before.

“What are you asking for it?” The vendor asked politely. After all there is no sense in burning bridges.

“Well.” The seller drew himself up another three inches taller. “I know what it’s worth, but I’m not telling you. And you call yourself a dealer.”

“Well, okay, let me see the knife again.” The seller handed it over and the vendor produced a small, but powerful flashlight. He carefully studied the Randall stamp, looked at the edge and felt around the leather washers and silver cap.
“Well the edge is very straight and it doesn’t appear to be resharpened.”

“That’s right.” The seller leaned in to see what the vendor was inspecting.

“It’s too straight. These were hand-made and this edge is machine. Look at the fine polishing parks on the edge. Randall used a courser edge polish then and I think the stamp is too dark.”

It was obvious where the story was going. I just sat there hoping a customer wouldn’t come to my table and prevent me from hearing the end of the story. The owner stood dumb struck, so the vendor kept going.

“Well, there are some nice counterfeits coming in now, but ten years ago phony Randalls were the rage. Some were so good, well, they were very good. So buddy, here it is. If you paid more than $80, you got taken.

“I suppose” the seller said condescendingly, “you’d like to buy it for your fake collection?”

“No thanks, I got enough junk.”

The seller stood there riveted to the floor, slowly turning red. I swear his eyes started to bulge. If he had been a boiler, I would have hit the ground and prayed the safety valve would open before it blew.

“But Jimmy might. He’s usually at that end of the building,” the vendor waved toward a distant corner, “but I haven’t seen him today. He might give you 80, maybe 90 bucks for it.”

The seller grabbed for the knife, but the vendor pulled it back.

“Hey, watch the blade.” he said. “It may be junk, but it’s sharp junk.” He put the knife down and the seller snapped it up and was last seen jamming it in his case as he stormed off.

I looked at the vendor. “That was a counterfeit? Sure looked nice.”

The vendor looked at me and shrugged. “What do I know about Randall knives? That guy was an orifice. They I know about.” He went back to looking something up and I returned to hoping for customers.

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