Antique knives are attractive collector’s pieces that can be displayed in any home. They also have great value for collectors, dealers, and investors. Antique knives are popular with antique collectors because they have unique designs and materials. These knives are functional as well as beautiful. There are many different types of antique knives available, such as hunting knives, Bowie knives, folding lock-back pocket knives, and slip joint or whittler knives. The best antique knife has a unique design, the right materials, and craftsmanship. Depending on the type of knife, its age, and its maker will determine the value of an antique knife. Learn more about these 15 most valuable antiques and how to identify them by reading this article.
What are Antique Knives?
Knives were among the first tools that humans created, dating back at least a couple of million years. The Oldowan tools are the oldest known knife-like tool to be discovered (in 2014) and they are about 2.5 million years old. The early forms of knives were made of stone, wood, or bone; had haphazard designs, and weren’t particularly sharp.
Antique knives are collectible items that are several years old. They are coveted or collected because of their antiquity, appeal, scarcity, condition, usefulness, emotional resonance, and other distinctive characteristics. They symbolize a previous age or time in the history of human evolution.
Identification of Antique Knives
Knives have been used by humans for almost 5,000 years, thus it is safe to assume that many different types and variations have developed over time. Hence, antique knife identification can be pretty difficult. It also makes antique knives quite valuable and they can cost anything from a few dollars to many thousands of dollars.
You should focus on the 1600s to 1900s because most antique knives in the collector’s market were produced in this period. Let’s look at the things that confirm the authenticity of an antique knife.
● Region of Origin and Production Period
Since knives have been manufactured by people from many cultures for hundreds of years, their designs and general quality greatly vary. Always look for symbols, inscriptions, and manufacture dates to pinpoint the item’s actual place of origin and when it was made.
● Manufacturer’s Name and Logo
Look closely for the manufacturer’s name, inscribed logo, distinguishing marks, or symbols on the knife handle or a metal plate beneath the blade. You can date a knife by paying attention to any changes to the old knife markings or symbols.
The blade is typically the first place to search for the distinctive mark because it is nearly impossible to identify a model without one. Keep in mind that a knife without a proven origin will never sell for a high price.
● The Size, Shape, and Type of Knife
The size, type, and shape of any antique knife always have an impact on a knife’s worth, especially if they are different from the standard. For instance, collectors interested in military knives are willing to pay more for versions with distinctive or unusual dimensions.
● Knife Style and Construction
On the market nowadays, you may find antique knives in a variety of styles. Some lack a mark, but experienced collectors can identify them by style. For instance, producers had a distinctive manner of making the blade or employed diverse materials and embellishments for the handle.
Also, some manufacturers employed specific lock types in the construction of their knives. Identifying the type of locks can also make it easy to determine the origin of a knife and when it was made.
● The Rarity of the Knife
Although it’s important to know how old your knife is, models from the same year won’t be valued the same. For instance, certain items are rare and valuable while being of average quality and having possible defects.
While some models were mass-produced, others were created in restricted quantities, which had an impact on their prices.
● The Material from which the Knife Was Made
One of the most accurate ways to assess a knife’s quality, age, and value is to look at the materials from which it was made. For example, the handles of antique items are sometimes constructed of priceless materials like ivory, silver, or saber teeth.
The material of the blade should always be examined first because this distinguishes antique knives from modern ones. If the blade is made of iron or steel, you can tell that the knife is an antique. On the other hand, a blade made of copper, bronze, or ceramic indicates that your knife is an older type. Check the material’s aging signs and edge sharpness as well.
Antique Knife Value; Factors Affecting the Value of an Antique Knife
Most collectors, especially the inexperienced ones, would likely find it challenging to estimate the exact market value of an antique knife. There are many things at play that could make the process stressful. However, valuation experts recommend that collectors should pay more attention to the following factors:
- Brand– the value of knives from popular brands can be set high enough. You must be careful to recognize the brand from the blade markings.
- Production Year– Information on the knife’s age might be used to identify a particular specialty from the period. Older knives should be worth a lot more than their modern ones.
- Material of the Blade– Steel or iron blades may have lower prices because they are more recent. Early ceramic, copper, or bronze knife blades are considered quite valuable.
- Blade’s Condition– For an accurate assessment, the present condition of the blade of the knife is crucial. No good can be expected from a knife blade that has sustained significant damage. Thus, such a knife cannot be valued reasonably.
- Handle’s Condition– Just as it is with the blade, maintaining fair pricing also requires good handle condition. The joinery shouldn’t become visible due to enough damage to the material.
- Overall Rarity– Scarcity always drives up the price with little regard for quality. Knives with unusual designs for unique uses or lesser-known brands have higher price tags.
- Additional Information– Extra details such as the blade’s decorative surface design might add value when sold. But this should indicate that the design is an authentic antique.
- Size, Type, and Shape– Collectors who favor military knives may be willing to pay more for particular choices. The same holds for other common varieties with unique or unusual designs and dimensions.
The only practical answer to the valuation problem of antique knives is to stay current with the market. You can check out video guides by Dr. Lori, Cutlery Lover, and HobieonYouTube on the best valuation procedure.
Antique Knives Worth Money
Now that we have talked about the identification of antique knives, let us take a look at some valuable old knives that would make a nice addition to a collector’s knife collection:
Finnish woodsmen have been using the Puukko for over a thousand years to carry out their trade. The Sami people have used and improved the knife for many centuries. It has evolved into a mark of honor among these people and the lives they lead.
The knife is well-known around the world for its functional design. The Puukko is employed for a variety of jobs around the farm, workshop, and forest. It is an adaptable knife that can be used for many different purposes depending on what the owner wants. Because of the handle’s flat grind and design, which enable full yet controlled power to be utilized when carving, it excels at wood carving also.
The Puukko has a very special cultural identity which makes it an excellent addition to an expert’s collection. Thus, the older ones are now being sought after by collectors and they sell for very good prices. An antique Finnish Puukko that dates back to 1899 was sold recently at an online auction for $733.
The Bowie Knife
The Bowie knife is a 19th-century design. It was originally created as a survival tool for use in the wild. However, it is now a collectible knife. They are expensive collector’s items and are valued for their beauty as much as their history. They were carried by soldiers and civilians alike.
A Bowie knife has a long, curved blade. It is typically about 12 inches long. The knife has a sturdy handle for gripping. It is often decorated with ornamental designs. The Bowie knife was popular during the Texas Revolution. A Bowie knife can be identified by its thick blade and long handle. It was usually made of steel. The majority of Bowie knives have a wooden handle. It can be identified by checking the shape, length, and material.
Antique Bowie Knives are now very valuable among collectors and they sell for very high prices. For instance, an antique bowie knife by Joseph Rodgers was recently sold on eBay for $950.
The stiletto was invented in Italy in the 15th century. It is a type of knife that was used as a weapon or tool. This knife was used for stabbing or thrusting. It started to gain popularity in the late Middle Ages as a secondary weapon for knights. This knife was used for both wars and assassinations.
Stilettos have long, slender blades made of iron or steel. The blade is between 5 and 10 inches long. Stilettos have a handle or scabbard that is ornamental. Stilettos can be identified by their long, slender blade. The blades were usually made of iron or steel and they usually have a decorative handle.
Having a vintage stiletto nowadays is a step closer to making some serious cash because collectors now pay very well for them. An antique stiletto in good condition can sell for any price between $300 and $600. A seller recently sold a 16th-century Venetian stiletto online for $421.
Antique Trench Knives
A trench knife is a combat knife made for close combat, in a restricted space such as in a trench, where it can be used to kill or incapacitate an enemy. A common form of trench knife during the First World War is the Nahkampfmesser used by the German Army. They were usually fabricated by hand by individual soldiers or blacksmiths.
The early trench knives were a modified form of bayonets. They were shortened bayonets with sharper blades. According to some historians, the Bowie knife was the inspiration for various trench knife models.
Because of their historical significance, antique trench knives are valuable pieces that any collector would want in their collection. Hence, they now sell for good prices in the collector’s market. For instance, a World War II M3 trench knife in perfect condition was sold on eBay for over $1000.
Antique Hunting Knives
The hunting knife is an ancient tool that has remained almost unmodified till the present day. It belonged to the group of tools or weapons that came after stones and clubs. It allowed early hunters to butcher animals for their meat and skins. Additionally, it was crucial for their defense against predators and rival tribes.
Most hunting knives have a slightly curved blade, while some may have a blade with a straight part for cutting meat slices and a curved part for skinning. Some old hunting knives come with blades that have guthooks. To avoid hurting the skin as it is being removed, most hunting knives as skinners.
Antique hunting knives are now coveted items in the collector’s market. They are very valuable and they sell for good prices. An antique hunting knife sells for prices between $200 and $600. In a recent sale on eBay, an old hunting knife was sold for over $500.
The Kris (Keris)
The Kris, also known as keris in Indonesian, is an asymmetrical knife with a peculiar blade pattern made by alternate laminations of iron. The Kris has Javanese origins and is one of the weapons frequently employed in the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat. It is known for its unique wavy blade and pistol-grip handle.
The Kris is made up of three parts: the blade (bilah or wilah), the hilt (hulu), and the sheath (warangka). Each component of the kris is regarded as a work of art, frequently intricately carved from a variety of materials such as metal, rare woods, gold, or ivory. In the Javanese culture, the Kris was basically used as an accessory weapon by court soldiers. It was also an object of spiritual importance and often displayed as magical talismans.
Because of the cultural, historical, and spiritual significance of the kris, it is one of the most sought-after antique knives by collectors. These knives now sell for prices as high as $1000 in the collector’s market. An antique Indonesian kris was recently sold on eBay for $706.
The Scottish dirk is a long-bladed thrusting knife. It was once known as the Highland Dirk, especially in the Gaelic regions of Scotland. It served as both the personal sidearm of Highlanders and an officer’s weapon during naval hand-to-hand combat during the Age of Sail. It was later used by commanders, pipers, and drummers of Scottish Highland battalions between the years of 1725 and 1800. It was also the traditional sidearm of the Scottish Highland Clansman.
Scottish immigrants brought the dirk to the US in the 1700s. This knife had a single edge when it was first made, but by 1745, most dirks had double-edge blades. They were usually made from old sword blades. Some of them were long enough to qualify as short swords.
The Scottish dirk is a knife of high historical and cultural significance. Hence, they make a good addition to an expert’s collection. They are very valuable to collectors and they now sell for very high prices. Some sell for as high as over $1500. In a recent sale on eBay, an antique Scottish dirk that was used by the Polish navy during the Second World War was sold for $1512.
These are also known as letter knives or letter openers. They are an important relic of the past ages and they are rarely seen in use nowadays except by antique enthusiasts. The main function of a paper knife is to break the seals on letters. They are also used to cut pages open in hand-produced books, where printed sheets are folded to form closed edges that must be torn before reading.
Paper knives can be made out of wood, plastic, ivory, metals including stainless steel, silver, pewter, or a mix of these materials. Frequently, the handle is stylized or decorated more than the blade. Some contemporary paper knives have a plastic handle with a retractable razor blade inside.
Although paper knives have a non-conventional simple function, most of them are quite strong that they can be used as weapons. This was proven true in an incident on September 20, 1958, when Izola Curry stabbed Martin Luther King Jr in the chest with a paper knife in a department store in Harlem.
Antique paper knives are quite valuable nowadays and collectors pay good prices for them. An antique silver imperial paper knife from Russia was recently sold on eBay for $699.
Antique Rigging Knives
A Rigging knife is also known as Sailor’s Knife. The knife is an essential multi-tool for crew members on any type of watercraft. It is a folding multi-tool which is a combination of a knife, a marlinspike, and a shackle key.
A rigging knife is majorly used to cut thick ropes. It may either have a smooth strong blade that is suitable for hammering with a mallet to drive the knife through surfaces, or a serrated blade that is for sawing through thick ropes.
Collectors consider antique rigging knifes quite valuable nowadays and they pay reasonably to have one in their collection. For instance, an antique rigging knife made by Thomas Turner & Co during the First World War was sold recently on eBay for roughly $223.
Antique Pocket Knives
A pocket knife is a special type of knife with multiple blades that fold into the handle. They may also be referred to as penknives (in Britain), folding knives, or jackknives (jackknives). They typically have a blade length of about five to fifteen centimeters (2-6 inches).
The earliest pocket knives were probably made during the early Iron Age. At a site of the Hallstatt Culture type in Austria, a pocket knife with a bone handle was discovered. It was made between 600 and 500 BCE.
Pocket knives are multipurpose tools that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as woodcarving and whittling, slaughtering small wildlife, gutting and filleting tiny fish, slicing twines, slicing fruits, boring holes in soft materials, etc.
Vintage pocket knives, especially the ones from prominent manufacturers such as W.R Case and Sons Cutlery Co., are very valuable in the collector’s market. They sell for prices between $70 and $300. An old Case Tested XX pocket knife was sold on eBay for $260.
The earliest record of cleavers or any cleaver-like tool was during the Acheulean Period, about 1.8 million years ago. Cleavers are one of the earliest forms of specialty knives used by humans.
A cleaver is a huge knife with a variety of shapes, however, it typically resembles a hatchet with a rectangular blade. It is mostly used as a kitchen or butcher knife and is designed primarily for slicing through large masses of meat and breaking up sizable chunks of soft bones. The broad side of the knife can be used to scoop up chopped ingredients as well as crush foods, such as garlic, during food preparation.
Cleavers have evolved in size, shape, and material over the years and the old ones are now highly coveted by collectors. Although the average price for antique cleavers is comparatively low when compared to other antique knives, some still sell for good prices. For example, an antique 14-inch cleaver was recently sold on eBay for $325.
Antique Chef’s Knife
A chef’s knife (often referred to as a cook’s knife) is a cutting tool used in cooking. The original purpose of the chef’s knife was to slice and separate thick portions of meat. Today, it serves as a general-purpose knife for the majority of western chefs.
A chef’s knife typically has a blade that is eight inches (20 centimeters) long and one and a half inches (3.8 cm) wide, though specific models can vary in length from six to fourteen inches (15 to thirty-six centimeters). It’s a multipurpose tool made to work effectively for a variety of kitchen chores such as mincing, slicing, and chopping.
Antique chef’s knives have grown popular in the collector’s market and they usually sell for over a hundred dollars. In a recent sale on eBay, an antique French chef’s knife by Sabatier was sold for around $160.
The Katar is a special type of knife (a push dagger) from the Indian Subcontinent. The weapon’s H-shaped horizontal hand grip, which causes the blade to rest above the user’s knuckles, is what distinguishes it from other forms of Indian knives. It is the most well-known and distinctive of Indian daggers.
It was originally designed as a weapon in Tamil warfare. As a matter of fact, the name Katar came from the Tamil word “Kidari” which was derived from the “Kedayam Ari” which means “Shield Splitter”.
Vintage Katars are quite rare and they don’t just pop up in the collector’s market. But when they do they sell for good prices. For instance, an antique gilded Indian Katar was sold on eBay for $610.
Just like the Katar, the Kukri also originated from the Indian Subcontinent. It is also traditionally referred to as Khukuri and it was originally associated with the Gurkhas of Nepal. The Kukri is the national weapon of Nepal. Hence, it is a defining weapon of the Nepalese army.
The blade of the knife has a pronounced recurve. Throughout the majority of South Asia, it largely performs dual roles as a common cutting tool and a melee weapon.
The Kukri is an ancient knife and the earliest recorded use of the knife was in the 7th century. It has a strong cultural and historical significance. As a result, it has become a piece every knife collector wants in their collection. Antique Kukris sell for good prices nowadays. An antique Kukri was recently sold on eBay for $179.
Antique knives are popular with antique collectors because they have unique designs and materials. These knives are functional as well as beautiful. There are many different types of antique knives available asides from the one mentioned in this article. The best antique knife has a unique design, the right materials, and craftsmanship. Depending on the type of knife, its age, and its maker will determine the value of any antique knife.
By ensuring the right appraisal method, you can acquire lots of collectible knives without exceeding your financial limit and the ones you own can be sold for reasonable prices.