Pocketknife Collecting: Top 5 Tips For Being A Successful Collector

There is no one right way to begin your pocketknife collection. There are hundreds of knife makers and thousands of different types of knives you can collect. The most important thing about collecting knives is that you collect knives that you like and knives you will enjoy hunting for.

No matter which particular knives you are drawn to, there are some essential tips that will help you get the most out of your collection and enjoy it to it’s fullest. Read on for the most important tips for the pocketknife collector.

And after that, look around the site for more helpful tips and guides.

Top 5 Tips For Pocketknife Collecting

1. Pick Your Favorite Type of Knife

Like most things that are collected, what is currently sought after and most in demand can change in time. Because of this, current market prices for certain styles and makes of knives can fluctuate tremendously.

For this reason I do not recommend that you collect with the intention of pursuing whatever is currently hot in pocket knives. Instead, it is best to pursue the styles and makers that you enjoy (the only reasonable exception to this rule is if you intend to try and flip knives for profit but that is an entirely different discussion).

When you know exactly what you like you are less likely to be drawn into overpaying for your knives. You will also enjoy your collection more if you are focusing on the knife styles you like the best.

2. Condition Matters

Pocket knives are at there most desirable, and highest value, when in mint condition. Most collectors will look for knives in unused condition. This means no damage to the handle, blades in original, unsharpened condition and springs with a good snap and no play in the blade.

Depending on the style of pocket knife you are looking to collect, it can become difficult and expensive collecting only mint condition knives. Unless you have a high budget for your collecting, it is a good idea to consider knives in less than mint condition. But it is important to avoid paying a premium price for junk condition knives.

The beginning collector should know ahead of time what level of damage and wear they are willing to accept in a knife. This will save you the frustration of spending money on knives you will later realize you should not have bought.

3. Cleaning Your Pocketknives

Never over clean or rework your vintage pocketknives! Pocketknife collectors are a prickly bunch and an old knife that looks like it has been refurbished loses a lot of it’s value. Because of this it is important to only perform light cleaning of your knives.

The best things to do when cleaning your knife is to gently wipe away any fingerprint stains with a soft cloth. You can lubricate the knife joints with knife or sword oil (don’t use any generic lubricants on your pocketknives). Remove oil buildup and dust and lint with a toothpick. But when in doubt on how much to clean your knife, just don’t clean it at all!

4. Pocketknife Storage

The most important factors to keep in mind when storing your pocketknives is temperature and humidity. Always store your knives in a temperature controlled environment. Do not let them sit in overly dry or wet conditions nor too high or low temperatures.

Direct sunlight should also be avoided. Many collectors just keep their knives in makeshift containers but open air boxes lined with acid free paper is the way to go.

If you collect celluloid handle knives then be sure they are not stored with any other knives. These handles can deteriorate and release gas that can damage any other knives stored with them.

No matter how you decide to store your knives you should check on them regularly and check for signs of storage induced damage such as blade rust or handle damage.

5. Never Stop Learning

The best way to improve your knife collection is to know your stuff! Always be open to learning more about the history of pocketknives. This will help you fill in your collection and even allow you to spot a diamond in the rough.

Read books (and the rest of the articles on this site, check out forums, go to knife shows and museums. Some of the greatest info I’ve learned on pocketknives is from just going to knife shows and listening to the collectors who have been around longer than me.


If you are just getting started with your pocket knife collection these tips will get you pointed in the right direction. There are so many great knives out there and plenty to go around. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions and I will be happy to help. Now, get out there and enjoy the hunt!

For more info on pocketknives check out these articles

Pocket Knife Handle Design Types

Types of Pocket Knives

Vintage Pearl Handle Pocket Knives

Written by Fred

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