Collectible Knives & Blades: Complete Beginner’s Guide

Updated May 9, 2022
Pocket knives neatly organized

There're a variety of ways to begin a knife collection, as well as a myriad of collectible knives that you can choose from. Whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced enthusiast, finding the perfect addition to add to your collection is as easy as knowing what to look for and where to look.

The Best Blades for Everyone's Knife Collection

When it comes to knives, there are literally too many types to name and an abundance of people who like collecting all of them. This is especially true because collectors aren't only fans of different styles, but both historic and contemporary models. So, it can be very overwhelming to jump into the fray, but breaking down the massive possibilities into smaller categories can help you make a way through the noise to the items you're really interested in buying.

Perhaps you enjoy collecting knives that can fit into the palm of your hand or ones with historical significances. The beauty of collecting knives is that there's so much product out there to browse that you have the luxury of picking the ones that speak to you. Yet, for beginner collectors, it's a smart idea to gravitate towards starter purchases of knives that collectors unanimously agree are low to mid-priced, good quality knives.

Victorinox Hunstman Swiss Army Classic SD

Shockingly, humans have been making pocket knives since antiquity, with the oldest documented pocket knives that've been found hailing from Austria and dating back to at least 600 BCE. That being said, it wasn't until the mass production of slipjoint and later spring-action pocket knives in the 19th century that these tools would start to become widely popular with the public. Undoubtedly, the most well-known pocket knife today is the Victorinox Hunstman's Swiss Army knife. This small multi-tool features more hidden components than just a blade, with a screw, can opener, and much more being affixed to the stacked handle. Currently, you can find Swiss Army knives in just about any combination of tools, sizes, colors, and prices imaginable, making it the best starter knife for a beginner's collection.

Victorinox Voyager Lite Swiss Army pocketknife

Buck 110 Hunter

The Buck 110 Hunter folding knife is nearly as iconic as the quintessential Swiss Army Knife. Devoid of the aforementioned pocket knife's bells and whistles, the Buck 110 is a modest yet effective folding knife. Featuring a 3.75" single-edged clip blade and a sleek 4.75" wood handle, this knife is a great addition to any new knife collection, not only for its historic connections but also its performance capabilities. Touted as a useful tool and not just a collectible meant to be elevated on a display shelf, the Buck 110 can be simultaneously pretty and rough and tumble.

Buck 110 folding hunter knife

The Buck 110 Hunter is on the cheaper side of the knife market, costing just a little over $50 per folding blade.

Spyderco Endura

The Spyderco Endura was first introduced in 1990 and took the coveted top spot as Blade Magazine's "Overall Knife of the Year." It's known not only for its tip-up carry mechanism but also for the convenient hole drilled out of the edge of the blade, allowing users to easily insert a finger and unsheathe the blade. This innovative design significantly improved the conventional dips and raised edges usually employed to open these smaller knives. Prospective collectors'll find it harder to procure one of the original Endura blades as they're no longer in production, but the 4th installment in the Endura line keeps this iconic shape and adds a modern flare to it.

Spyderco Endura

The only major drawback of the Endura is its steep price, sitting between $150-$200 depending on what retailer you purchase it from. Due to the price, collectors might want to consider adding the Endura knife later in their careers.

Case Co. Trapper

If you're a fan of historic weaponry and enjoy designs that have a classic touch to them, the Case Company's Trapper knife is a must-have for your blade collection. Since the late 19th century, Case has been selling knives, with their version of the classic Trapper knife (double blade pocket knife typically utilized by the fur and meat Trapper community), becoming really popular with American audiences in the post-war period. These double knives--one clip point and one spey point--were designed with outdoorsmen in mind. That being said, one of the most collectible elements of Case's Trapper knives are the many different cases and sizes out there. You can find knives with handle designs to match your favorite automobile brand, color, and so much more.

Case Trapper Knife

Typically, these knives range in prices from around $75-$250 depending on which exact one you choose, meaning that every collector can find the perfect Trapper match for their budget and style.

Opinel No. 8

The Opinel No. 8 is an interesting piece of European cultural heritage that boasts a strong, functional performance with an unexpectedly low price. Typically, historic brands' prices will increase over time, particularly if they're products become cult classics, but Opinel - continuously made in the French Alps since the 19th century - has kept their knives at a shockingly affordable price, with the No. 8 costing just under $20. This carbon steel 3.28" blade pocket knife is designed for all manner of uses in mind, from artistic pursuits to culinary necessities. With a more rounded, slight handle, the Opinel No. 8 is incredibly subtle in the grip, giving the effect of a painter wielding a brush rather than a baseball player choking a bat.

Opinel Knifes

KA-BAR USMC Straight Edge

First created to be used by the United States Armed Forces during World War II, the KA-BAR company's USMC Straight Edge tactical knife is an intimidating knife for anyone to wield. This 7" blade with its 1.18" width is usually the type of blade people think of when they think of tactical knives. If you enjoy collecting militaria, you've probably heard of or have already collected one of these KA-BAR knives. This fixed blade knife is mid-priced knife, at almost $130 a piece, but is a great addition to your anyone's growing knife collection.

Ka-Bar Straight Edge

Tips to Give Novice Knife Collectors an Edge

It doesn't matter how long you've been collecting knives, since the industry is always changing. It's a great idea to keep abreast of the latest tips for hunting down the best finds and greatest deals.

Learn the Local Laws About Knife Ownership in Your Area

For every knife collector--novice or expert--it's vital that you look into the knife laws in your area. The specific rules about what types of knives people are permitted to own, carry, and conceal can determine what your collection shapes up to be. For example, a number of states currently outlaw the private ownership of switchblades. Given that these collectibles are considered weapons, you have to make sure that you do the research about what is and isn't legal where you live before you buy anything, whether in-person or online.

Familiarize Yourself With the Trends

While it may be tempting to just begin buying knives that appeal to you, it can be the worst mistake you can make as a beginning collector. Knives vary quite widely in value, so it's important to be able to know what knives are the best to buy and sell at any moment. Checking the trades and attending weapons shows are a great way to keep abreast of current trends in what knives are popular right now. Depending on what's in vogue, you might want to sell some of your collection if you can make out with a great profit thanks to inflated prices due to buyer demand or grab up cheap knives that may appreciate in value over time.

Determine What Kind of Collection you Want to Have

Another fatal error that beginner knife collectors can make is not making a deliberate plan for what kind of collection they want to have. It's important before making any purchases to plan out the type of collection you 'd like to end up with. This can help you not get distracted by appealing deals or persuasive salesmen.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

It's all too easy to go to an auction or a show and spend way more than you'd planned to. While you shouldn't ever be stopped from buying what you love, you also should try to stick with a budget. Since knives can be expensive items to collect, it's better for your wallet and future collecting needs to avoid spending too much on any one item.

Keep Safety in Mind at All Times

It's important to remember that, at the end of the day, knives are weapons and they can hurt you and those around you. So it's also important to carefully store your collection away from pets and children. Glass cases with locks can be an excellent compromise between safety and visibility, but regular locked cases will do just as fine. Additionally, if you're purchasing any knives from locations that aren't super reputable (which, if you're on the hunt for a rare find might actually happen), then you should check with your local law enforcement to make sure that you don't have a weapon that was used in a crime.

Build a Beautiful Collection With Precision and Care

Humans have marvelled at the sharpened blade since the dawn of time, and collectors like to honor this heritage by continuing their ancestor's practices. You can connect the past with the present by starting your own knife collection today.

Collectible Knives & Blades: Complete Beginner’s Guide