|It is a nice little knife in its own right. Does the blade engraving make it more valuable or less valuable?|
I think more to me, less to everyone else.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
I had hoped to shoot a Saturday evening match, but I started working on my father’s coin collection and lost track of time. Most of his coins are from circulation so they have little collection value other than face value. It was the excess coins that troubled me.
What’s a lot of pennies from 1949 to 1960 worth? Let’s start off with the fact they are ‘wheat backs’ which are no longer minted. Also understand they minted millions of each wheat penny each year. Nobody knows if they will be worth anything for at least 150 years. I base that on a large penny I have from 1848 in good condition that might be worth $3 bucks.
Current pennies are a copper clad zinc coin, but these are solid copper. I checked the selling price of copper, the weight of a penny and 158 pennies could earn you around 2 bucks. I suspect many US metal recyclers will not want to handle pennies, afraid of laws about defacing US currency. Factor in the cost of a trip to Canada where a US penny just is a disk of copper, and I suspect you need to take tons to come out ahead.
Many of the coins in circulation have features raised above the coin’s rim and are quickly eroded way along with their value. Most Indian head nickels have lost their date and you might be able to sell such a worn coin for 8 to 10 cents. It seems during the Depression, hobos would carve an Indian head nickel to resemble some other figure and would try to trade their handy work for a meal or shot of Ol’Red Eye. So there is still a small market for the coin as artistic media.
So it goes with most coins in circulation, a dime without silver is worth 10 cents. A Kennedy post 1964 half dollar might be worth a few cents more to a collector or someone who want to imitate George Raff flipping a coin.
The only real way to make money on most circulated coins, other than to spend ‘em is to sell them to other new collectors who can no longer find a 1941-S penny. From my knife selling experience, forget ebay. You could rent tables at coin, hobby, and flea markets, spending a lot of weekends to make peanuts. You should prepare to spend years to sell circulated coins with a face value of $100.
So what does this have to do with knives?
Knife collectors are kind of in the same situation. If your heirs aren’t interested in your collection, they will want to sell it. So what’s a fair price? There aren’t that many people willing to plunk down bucks for used Case knife. If you have one from the 1930s, it may be valuable to the right person, but you’ve got to find that person. Even custom and semi-custom knives go out of style and drop in price as the maker becomes more obscure.
Yes, there are exceptions. Loveless, Randall and others are still in demand, partially because the organizations still exist and are still making knives. Others aren’t so lucky. Most factory made knives only drop in appreciation as newer design and more sophisticated steels are introduced.
As knife collectors we are told to list or provide documentation to our heirs to help them understand what we believe the knife is worth. We are often guilty of over-evaluating our collection. We would like to believe the club knife or special event knife should be worth more, especially if only a few were made and it’s old. The same with knife lines no longer manufactured. Scarcity and age do not determine price. Price is determined by the transaction between seller and buyer. And it can be different on any single day depending on who’s at the table and how much each wants to buy and sell.
So, do I have a solution to the coin and knife collector? Of course I do!
It’s a two part solution. The first is selling your collection yourself. You enjoyed putting it together; now enjoy haggling and selling it. You’ll make, lose or break even on the deal, but at least you’ll have fun doing it. The second part is don’t worry about it. Enjoy your collection while you can and let the heirs deal with it. So what if the kids sell your custom made ivory handled Fairbairn-Sykes combat dagger for 50 bucks and threw in a sharpening stone.
It isn’t like you can use the money, is it?