Buying a knife from inactive or deceased makers?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Ron Sabbagh, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Ron Sabbagh

    Ron Sabbagh Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 15, 1999
    Sometimes I think to myself.....for the price of a large Sebenza, I could buy a custom from one of the legends like Frank Centofante or Wayne Goddard, etc. That is to say, deceased makers. Many deceased makers have new old stock knives that fall in the $400-700 range on trusted dealer websites.

    Pros: perhaps better fit and finish; better materials in some instances (jigged bone; mammoth or stag handles vs titanium slabs)

    Cons: Perhaps inferior fit and finish; poorer steel options. And the big one - minimal or no service guarantees.

    Like most decisions, I'm sure it comes down to the individual knives in question but how do you generally feel about buying a knife that might have superior materials/fit & finish -but might not be able to be serviced - vs buying a knife that may not be as "unique and interesting" but you know will have good customer service for years to come?
  2. The Aflac Duck

    The Aflac Duck Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2014
    If it was a known maker and a good quality piece in terms of F&F I wouldn’t hesitate. Minor issues I can service myself or I can send it out if needed. Use the knife as intended, take care of it, and there shouldn’t be any issues.
  3. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    If a collector's shelf queen - deceased. well known makers (knife mint).
    If user - a new, modern knife with warranty.
  4. Peter Hartwig

    Peter Hartwig Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    If buying from a dealer-I would say do a very good initial inspection and if any problems send it back. Other than that hope for the best, and that you can find someone to repair it if needed. If I liked the knife enough I would buy it. There are many talented people out there that may be able to repair it if needed, but there is always the chance they can't(or can't at a reasonable price).
  5. rover


    Jul 9, 2004
    I like the old customs. Lately, I've been carrying a Boguszewski lockback that's over 30 years old. Picked it up on the bay and it cost less than many of today's factory knives.
  6. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    If there was a knife I badly wanted from a maker who had passed, I would buy the best condition example I could find, and would pay for it knowing full well that I most likely was not going to get any warranty support (unless the maker had had a shop with a team of people he'd trained). I'd also be more forgiving of small issues, especially on an older knife. We've gotten spoiled buying all these knives made by CNC where everything is perfect (because human beings didn't make it), and if I was buying an older knife, I'd recognize that it most likely wasn't going to be flawless.
    WValtakis, evilgreg, MarkN86 and 5 others like this.
  7. jideta

    jideta Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 8, 2020
    I think a lot depends on your reasons for purchase/collecting.
    In the case of makers no longer with us, there's a finite amount of work out there. If you follow/collect that person's work, then I would grab whatever I could. If it was a reputable maker, I might even grab it just to say I got one.
    I see your point in that I wouldn't spend the bucks on a production blade when I could get handmade.
  8. AKnife


    May 10, 2009
    It's the gamble when buying any custom knife. All these custom makers could quit/die at anytime and you're SOL.

    So, I wouldn't hesitate buying a custom if I really wanted it. I own 2 Neil Blackwood customs and he no longer makes knives. First one I bought when he was still making knives (stealing deposits :rolleyes:) and the other, a button lock henchman, was when he went off the grid.
    Mitchell Knives and Lodd like this.
  9. lieferung

    lieferung Basic Member Basic Member

    May 24, 2016
    There's plenty of still-breathing makers who can service the knife, it will just be at extra cost. That would be the price you pay for choosing one of the late and greats.
  10. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    I don't buy knives based on the warranty.
    So obviously I would not hesitate to buy a knife made by someone no longer around.
    evilgreg and Feca10ne like this.
  11. deadzonepatrol


    Apr 11, 2019
    New, old stock knives by a deceased maker? Where do I sign up? If it's by a maker I like, and I like the knife, I wouldn't be able to hold myself back, especially at those price points. Customer service? I don't really care at all about that. Have never had to request customer service on any of my knives, some of which have been used very hard.
  12. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I would generally have no problem buying a handmade knife from a deceased/inactive maker to use or do with what I want. The biggest item is steel considerations in my opinion. But many of the makers that forge knives still use what many would consider a lower grade steel for their knives. So, if I really liked the knife, I would buy it regardless.

    Don't care about warranties. If I buy from a current maker, I check the knife out carefully after purchase and move forward. The warranty doesn't mean much to me one way or the other.

    I would have little interest in blades made from car or truck springs, saw blades, or lawn mower blades regardless.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  13. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    Warranty is meant to cover bad workmanship on the part of the manufacturer, we've gotten spoiled on the fact that these production companies will stand behind stuff well after they should have to. If you get a knife and the build is good, everything is straight and square, the mechanical parts are working properly and not prematurely wearing out, and the HT holds up fine, it's at that point that the manufacturer's responsibility ends. Anything that gets damaged or broken is on you and is your responsibility to fix or have fixed.

    The problem with a lot of these customs is that they become display pieces for collectors that many will never actually use for cutting. A maker could unknowingly miss badly on a heat treatment and most of the time nobody would even have a clue until years and years down the line, if ever.
  14. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    When you are buying the product of late makers, you are buying vintage goods, and usually the value extends beyond basic use. As some one has already said above, these knives represent a finite set of products. You buy them to collect, and hold custody to an item with the intent of preserving it for posterity.

    User knives can be had at the big box store for a tiny fraction of the cost. While there is nothing wrong with testing these knives, especially if they are already in used condition, you didn't buy this thing for its warranty.

  15. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Pretty much the way I feel. The heat treat mention is something that applies equally to factory made knives that are not used for years.
  16. Lodd

    Lodd Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 23, 2015
    Well, if it's a trusted dealer, won't they cover the majority of warranty issues? I understand you might not be able to get the knife fixed if something happens down the road, but the dealer will still cover issues that occur on arrival, right?

    So, if the knife turns out to be a lemon, you can just send it back. But if you receive the knife in perfect working order, you got a great knife. I mean, sure, it's possible that an issue develops down the road, but the chances of that are pretty small with correct use and maintenance, right?

    So, for me, the risk would be acceptable, provided the seller/dealer was somebody I can trust.
  17. afishhunter


    Oct 21, 2014
    I buy a knife to use, not for the warrantee/guarantee.
    In the 60 years I've had a knife, I've never sent one in for warranty work or replacement. If a knife became worn out or unusable, it was tossed and I bought a new one.

    I bought a Western L66 last year to use.
    Western has been closed since c.2004. Sadly, Western was bought by one of the Schrade brands (Camillus?) and closed when Schrade did.
    At any rate, it is not under warranty. Admittedly, the L66 is not a rare "collectable", but the ones I've seen for sale online are priced at least double what I paid for mine. There is little chance I can replace it, should I do something stupid and break it.
    I still intend to use it for what it was designed and made for.
  18. Ron Sabbagh

    Ron Sabbagh Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Sep 15, 1999
    This is precisely my concern. I bought a NOS custom folder that is gorgeous and passed the usual inspection. It wasn't until more frequent use that I discovered that the liner lock fails with medium/high pressure on the blade. So I can relegate the knife for light office use only or try to convince a current maker to take it apart & try to fix it.

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