Knives are regarded as the most important tools in the world, and case knives are regarded as even more important—a companion. They are naturally valued for their functionality and are used in our daily lives.
Some, on the other hand, are valued for more than just functionality and are the work of master craftsmen. Continue reading to learn about the most valuable case knives, their values, and how to identify them.
Most Valuable Case Knives
As you may have guessed, case knives are a big deal. A knife is one of man’s most useful tools, influencing history through food, art, sorcery, love, and war. Due to its significance, many knife makers and collectors have sought to create and acquire knives that are beyond “ordinary.”
This tradition dates back to Ancient Egypt and medieval times, but it is still alive and well in our world today. There are knives from the past and present that redefine the beauty and purpose of case knives. Some are worth millions, while others are worth a few thousand.
19 Most Valuable Case Knives
The most valuable case knives are genuine works of art created by masters and are worth every penny paid.
Some depict the creativity and passion of previous centuries, while others represent the artistry of our ever-changing present world. The following are the top 19 most valuable case knives:
1. Case Knife 6488 LP Rough Black 4 Blade Large Congress Knife Long Pull 6488
Case’s four-bladed pocket knife features a rough black handle and a clip-point blade. It also has a frame lock and the word CASE engraved on the handle.
- Year: 1940 – 1964
- Estimated market value on eBay: $1,950
2. Nenohi Honyaki 240 Gyuto with 3 Silver Rings
The Nenohi Honyaki’s blade is made of single hard steel, while the supporting spine was tempered differently to make it softer. It is hand-forged and hand-sharpened in Sakai before being refinished with a high mirror glaze by Nenohi.
As a result of the quenching process, it has a natural Hamon, and as it is used, the blade loses its shine and turns various shades of gray. The grip is made of hand-selected true ebony and rounded with three sterling silver rings.
- Year: 21st century
- Estimated market value on Chef’s Armoury: AUD 2,895.95
3. Lancet Ouroboros Knife by William Henry
The Ouroboros knife, as the name suggests, depicts a snake eating its own tail to form a circle. This symbol originates from ancient Egypt and Greece, and the knife was created by William Henry.
Mike Norris hand forged the blade from “Hornet’s Nest” Damascus steel. Jake Newell hand engraved the handle, which features 24K gold details and copper inlays. It also has a one-hand button lock system and a leather carrying case.
- Year: 21st century
- Estimated market value on William Henry: $5,500
4. Yoshihiro Mizuyaki Hontari
This stunning knife was handcrafted in Japan by one of Yoshihiro’s most skilled knifemakers. The wave pattern on the blade, known as the Hamon, was designed to resemble Mt. Fuji with a full moon.
The saya bears a phoenix that was painted using the Fuki Urushi method. The Kengata Gyomen Shiage Honyaki Yanagi is a knife designed for making thin slices of fish for sushi or sashimi.
- Year: 21st century
- Estimated market value on Yoshiro Cutlery: $6,900
5. GenTac Makara Knife by William Henry
William Henry, known for their exquisitely designed luxury pocket knives, created the Makara. Mike Norris hand-forged the blade using “Hornets Nest” Damascus steel, and it has a one-hand button lock system with a spinel-set thumb stud. Joanne Ryall hand-engraved the frame with 24-karat gold inlays.
- Year: 21st century
- Estimated market value on William Henry: $12,500
6. Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife by William Henry
William Henry, Mike Norris (who forged the blade from “Hornets Nest” Damascus steel), and Mark Hoescht (who engraved the handle with 24 karat gold) worked together to create this beautiful piece.
The Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife is a work of art, as evidenced by the intricate engravings on the handle.
- Year: 21st century
- Estimated market value on William Henry: $18,500
7. A Naval Dirk From the Period of Catherine The Great
This knife, which dates from the reign of Catherine II, was part of Christie’s collection “Russian Works of Art” in 2008. The curved, tapering, spiral-carved wooden grip has a crossguard and a rounded knob.
It bears Catherine The Great’s Imperial Arms on one side of the blade and may have been used by naval officers in battle.
- Year: 18th century
- Estimated market value on Christie’s: $20,000
8. Spearpoint Lace Knife by William Henry
The Spearpoint Lace is a luxury pocket knife made by William Henry. Its handle is also hand-engraved with 24-karat gold by Mario Terzi. The blade features a hand-forged “Boomerang” Damascus steel by Chad Nichols. This pocket knife is expertly designed to be passed down from generation to generation.
- Estimated market value on William Henry: $25,000
9. Enamel and Gold- Mounted Chalcedony Parasol Handle Knife
Fabergé created this exquisitely crafted gardening knife in the late 1800s. It has a chalcedony handle carved in the shape of a snail, a gold mount with yellow, pink, and purple shades, and a steel blade.
It was made by workmaster Micheal Perchin and was inscribed with “Faberge” in Cyrillic and the workmaster’s initials on the gold mount.
- Year: 1890
- Estimated market value on Christie’s: GBP 62,500
10. Nesmuk Century Knife
Nesmuk, a German cutlery manufacturer, created the world’s most expensive kitchen knife, the Jahrhundert Messer. It is unlike any other ordinary chef’s knife made of 30-60 Damascus steel.
Lars Scheidler fashioned the blade out of 640 Damascus steel. Its cutting edge was made from the highest quality carbon steel. The handle was crafted from over 5,000-year-old bog oak wood and featured a platinum collar adorned with 25 brilliant cut diamonds.
- Year: 2010
- Estimated market value on Scharfkochen: $80,000
11. Anthony Bourdain’s Favorite Knife
In 2016, after previously featuring Bob Kramer in an award show and having him as a guest on his own show, Anthony Bourdain was privileged to get on a recipient list for a Kramer meteorite knife.
The 10-inch steel chef’s knife was made from meteorite, while the handle and sheath were made from traditional cocobolo. This knife became Anthony’s favorite kitchen utensil, and he used it in the kitchen.
Following Anthony’s death, his personal belongings were auctioned off, with his knife being the top seller. It was sold to The English House, Singapore, and is put on public display.
- Year: 2016
- Estimated market value on auction:$231,250
12. President Theodore Roosevelt’s Hunting Knife
New York State Supreme Court Justice, James W. Gerard, gifted president Theodore Roosevelt who was his friend from the Spanish-American war. It was created by both J. Russell & Co. and Dreicer & Co.
It was valued at $1,250. This knife was passed down through the family of President TR for 107 years.
- Year: 1909
- Estimated market value on Rock Island Auction: $414,000
13. A Gold and Turquoise Hilted Knife From the Ottoman Empire
This knife features a tapering watered steel blade, a single engraved leaf on the gilt neck, and an intricately designed turquoise hilt with gold inlay.
The technique used in the creation of this knife indicates royal ownership. The shape of this knife suggests that its function was to make a single downward-sharp cut on a flat or nearly flat surface for royal circumcision.
- Year: 16th century
- Estimated market value on Christie’s Auction: $457,250
14. The King Tut Dagger Reproduction
Archaeologist Howard Carter discovered a dagger in the tomb of Tutankhamun, the Egyptian boy king, in 1922. In 1982, Phil Lobred, a collector of custom knives, commissioned Buster Warenski to recreate an ancient Egyptian dagger.
It took Warenski five years to build this dagger, and he made it out of 32 ounces of gold. Before his death in 2016, Phil Lobred set the price at $1 million. However, his widow has relisted it for $500,000.
- Year: 1987
- Estimated market value: $500,000
15. An Imperial Hunting Knife and Scabbard From the Qianlong Period
During the Qianlong dynasty, it was customary for Manchu men to cut their own meat, as opposed to Han men, who ate their meat pre-cut. It was also not uncommon for the tradition to apply, particularly to the royal family.
This imperial hunting knife shows signs of being made for royal use and used as a hunting knife for ceremonial purposes only. It could also have been used once or twice at the dinner table as proof of the bearer’s Manchu identity.
The blade of this knife was made of steel and damascene gilding. The hilt is made of an antelope horn (extremely rare) and is bound at both ends with gilded bands inlaid with turquoise glass cabochons.
- Year: 1817
- Estimated market value on Sotheby’s: $1.2 million
16. Imperial Qing Dynasty Dagger With a White Jadeite Scabbard
White jadeite is a quite rare item 18th-century craftsmen were able to create one with an intertwining lotus design and a matching gilt-bronze hilt.
- Year: 18th century
- Estimated market value at Christie’s: $2,420,000
17. The Gem of the Orient
Buster Warenski created the Gem of the Orient as the second knife in his Legacy Series. This knife is a prized collector’s item due to its impeccable design. It is an art knife, from the sheer dedication and artistry of the ten years Buster poured into it to the gems that sit comfortably on it.
The 28-ounce gold knife has 123 10-carat emeralds and 9 5-carat diamonds encrusted in a gold and jade filigree handle. It was originally sold for $1.2 million but was later resold for $2.1 million.
- Year: Late 1900s
- Estimated market value:$2.1 million
18. Shah Jahan Sardonyx Dagger
This dagger pays homage to the emperor, Shah Jahan (King of the World), whose reign was known as the Golden Age due to the Mughals’ stability and prosperity during that time.
This dagger is Shah Jahan’s second known personal dagger. The watered steel double-edged tapering blade is swollen at the tip and has a central ridge. It has a gold inscription on each side that translates to “The Conqueror King.”
- Year: 1628 -1657
- Estimated market value on Bonhams: £1,700,000
19. Shah Jahan Jade Blade
Shah Jagan’s jade blade is a truly magnificent work of art that combines artistic perspectives from various cultures into a single fine piece. It is a testament to the Mughal dynasty’s creativity, which ruled the Indian Subcontinent from 1580 to 1650.
The remarkable carved handle was made from jade stone, and the inscription on the gold neck is written in the Nastaliq script of Iran. Other European and Indian influences can be found in the dagger.
The Shah Jahan’s jade blade was displayed at Christie’s alongside other Mughal dynasty artifacts but proved to be in a class of its own, selling for a whopping USD 3,375,000. It was sold to the royal family of Qatar for $250,000 in 2013 before resurfacing in 2019.
- Year: 1620 – 1630
- Estimated market value on Christie’s: $3,375,000
Case Knives Identification and Value
Identifying case knives in your kitchen or while shopping can help you determine the maker’s style and the value of the knives. This section will help you identify and value case knives even better.
The value of a case knife is solely determined by the material used to make it. This is why knives engraved with 24K gold or studded with diamonds are extremely expensive, whereas knives made of common materials are valued lower.
If you want to buy or sell a case knife, you should know what material it is made of. The more valuable the material, the more valuable the knife.
Age is another factor that affects the value of your case knife. The age might not always reflect well on a functional item such as a knife, so a worn and well-used knife may not fare as much, reducing its value over time.
That is not always the case, however. The materials and techniques used to make case knives in the past were geared toward pure artistry. The craftsmen created knives that would carry their legacy and talent.
Some very old knives were made of stronger materials and have withstood the test of time. These knives are loved and popular because of their resilience.
Not all case knives are made for the same purpose. Yes, the definition could refer to a table knife or a sheath knife. However, not every knife on the dining table is used for eating. Some are for the purpose of bragging, while others are purely aesthetic.
Knife masters design each knife with a specific purpose in mind, which determines the materials and level of creativity used in its creation, which determines the knife’s value.
Identifying the purpose, whether it is an art knife, a collectible, or simply a well-made kitchen knife, can tell you everything you need to know about its market and/or sentimental value.
Case Knives Identification
Case knives are relatively easy to identify, owing to their status as collector’s items or the craftsman’s desire to leave a legacy. If you are familiar with their distinct styles, you may be able to recognize them with a single glance. When you pick up a case knife to study, there are various points that can tell you who made it.
Point 1- The Sheath
If a case knife is displayed outside of its case, this is usually the first point of contact between you and it. The sheath, saya, or scabbard is also a large canvas for an artist (in this case, a knife master or engraver), and they know how to use it creatively.
Meaning that the sheath can lead you to its maker because it carries a large part of their artistic signature, whether it is the Lancet Ouroboros or a Yoshihiro Mizuyaki Hontari; some sheaths serve as a compass.
Aside from the intricate designs that are unique to each knife marker, some, like Case, bear the logo or markings of their marker.
Point 2- The Hilt
The handle of a knife is the next point of contact and can reveal a lot about the maker, the time period in which it was made, and the purpose of the knife. What you’re looking for could be right in front of you or incorporated into the design.
Knifemakers who make more than “table knives” usually avoid using wood (oak or otherwise) and instead use gems, bones, and occasionally gold. Some gems used on the hilt, such as the Shah’s Jade handle, can reveal the era and culture of origin.
Some other knives can spot a hilt designed for a strong and firm grip on the battlefield or in the kitchen, which can indicate the purpose rather quickly. The knife’s design can also reveal its age or its era.
Most handles carry the inscription of not only the year but the artist as well, which can eliminate the guessing game entirely.
Point 3- The Blade
The blade is often the knife maker’s favorite part of the knife because it does the majority of the work. Forging a perfect blade takes passion, and it’s even better when it carries your essence.
A blade with a specific type or design of Hamon can tell a trained eye whether it was made in Sakai or not. Or one with an inscription (in English or another language) that indicates the location, time, or purpose of the blade.
The shape of the blade, whether tapering or curved, double-edged or not, can also sometimes reveal information. Others, such as Bob Kramer’s meteorite knives, simply carry their identity in the material from which the blade was forged.
Point 4- The Case
This can be point one, but in cases where the knife is viewed in the absence of the case, the sheath takes its place. Most cases simply bear the maker’s logo or name, as well as the date and purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Balance Point of My Case Knife?
The balance point of your case knife will approximately be where your index finger sits on the handle.
What is the Most Illegal Knife in America?
The ballistic knife is the most illegal, as restrictions on switchblades and automatic knives have been lighter in recent years.
What Differentiates Japanese Case Knives From Western Ones?
Japanese knives have a flatter belly and are better suited for push cuts.
Case knives are remarkable items to collect not only for their beauty but also for their functionality. They are relatively simple to identify and value through careful observation.
The value of case knives is not fixed and can range from as little as $1 to as much as $1,000,000. Please comment if you have any questions.