How many knife makers are there?
A good friend of mine owns knives from over one hundred and eighty Eskilstuna knife makers in his collection. Therefore, let me guess that the answer is somewhere above an undetermined number of about two hundred.
Have the knife makers agreed on a uniform type number?
It had undoubtedly made things easier for us collectors – but unfortunately – every self-respecting knife maker had their own numbering system and only a few knife makers stamped their knives with type No. However, some models were so widely used that the same type No was to be used by several manufacturers, such as the ”22nd” and the ”38th”.
Suppose one would want to collect all knife variants from all knife makers, how many knives would that be?
No one can give an exact answer to that question. Far from all knife makers printed catalogues, but the ones we have tell us about the productions enormous variety and richness. I’ll be bold and try on a careful estimate. Let’s start with the fact that there were over two hundred knife makers, so far the calculation is pretty safe. Additionally, it was not unusual for an established knife maker to have sixty – ninety models in production, all rarely produced at the same time. Each model could be found in more varieties, the most common variations were different materials in the handles. Four to six variants were not uncommon but up to over twenty variants of a model were also found. Hadar Hallström, a major knife manufacturer, manufactured in 1915: one hundred and sixteen models in six hundred and forty two variants. In 1909 the much smaller knife maker Adolf Andersson had forty six models in one hundred and thirty nine variants in production.
So where does that leave us? The estimate is starting to get a little too many uncertain factors, so I think we should place ourselves a bit low. Some knife makers where only in the business for a couple of years, and did not make many models. Let’s say that two hundred knife makers made about twenty knives each. Then we still end up at four thousand models in sixteen thousand variants! If every model only got four different variants that is…
What is a Eskilstuna knife worth?
It depends a lot on manufacturer, model, material and condition.
Pocket knives, pen knives and razors generally have a lower value than daggers and barrel knives. But exceptions are the rule regarding the prices of Eskilstuna knives. Only two eager speculators are needed for an auction to rise in price. A good tip is to get an account on Tradera.com (Swedish Ebay), it’s free. Then you can look at closed auctions and get a better idea of different knives value. The knife page cultur.nu (see links) can also give you a good idea of the pricing of different knives.
What is the value of an unstamped knife and why did not all knives get stamped?Even unstamped knives are well worth preserving. The explanation for why knives left the manufacturer without a stamp can be several. For example, some production may have occurred without the money reaching the books. Another explanation may be that individual workers made knives on their own time, with or without the knife manufacturer’s knowledge, perhaps for sale to peddlers. A third explanation may be that they simply wanted to save on a workflow, most of which was done by hand. unstamped knives are often very low priced, the exception being if one can still determine the origin of the knife with certainty.
Some knives have a slight bend on the front of the larger blade. Has it been damaged?
In some cases it may be damaged, but often it’s because the blades are sharpened with a ”warp”, ie the knife edge is not centered all the way, which helps the knife to fold. If, on the other hand, only the tip of the blade is bent, this is not deliberate. Perhaps someone ”clipped” the tip slightly during sharpening.
Why not collect German or English knives instead?
That it is an excellent idea, especially for my wallet. Since many collectors are very proud of their home towns, foreign knives, even those of the highest quality, are often incredibly low-valued when sold in Sweden. If I had not fallen for Eskilstuna knives, I would probably collect knives from Solingen in Germany. They usually maintain high quality and the stamps (which are a great part of the charm of collecting) are often more imaginative than those on Swedish knives. But for now I will keep on working on my Eskilstuna collection.
Where can I buy and sell Eskilstuna pocketknives and what should I think of?
My main purchasing routes are Tradera.com, flea markets, and other collectors. But auctions and trade fairs may also be worth checking out. In fact, you can also look for knives if you are abroad. I once found a great little knife of Hedengran on Portobello Road in London! Once you’ve been collecting for a time, you get to know people, and if you care about your contacts one trade can lead to many more. When buying knives on Tradera, do not be afraid to ask the seller questions. Sometimes it may be good to ask for extra pictures if those published are unclear. Often the seller responds the same day but sometimes you do not get any answer at all, in the latter case, I do not think you should bid on that knife.
One thing to keep in mind is that some sellers mistake (I hope it’s a mistake at least) pearl imitation/ celluloid for true mother of pearl, and falsely claim it’s real in their auctions. So always look carefully on the pictures. Otherwise, I have to say that those who trade on Tradera in general are very thoughtful and honest. At flea markets, fairs etc. the possibility of making an ocular survey is better. If you are not very certain of what you are buying there is no need to pay a high price. The risk is that you want to sell your unknown knife later, and it is good if you can avoid losing money. Talking about money, since there are relatively few bidders on knives, one should take into account the one big difference from buying a knife to when you sell that same knife later. One bidder has fallen away from the race – you.
Is the condition of the knives important?
There is no uniform answer here, collectors all feel differently about it. However, a rule of thumb is that wear caused by careful use interferes less than regular damage due to negligence. Broken blades usually cause the value to drop like a stone on open water. But since even damaged knives can fill an important place in the collection for those who might have been looking for years after a certain model, my advice is never to throw any knives away. If you feel that damaged knives are in the way, you can conveniently put them in their own ”scrap box” in anticipation of better times.
How do I preserve my Eskilstuna knives?
It is extremely important that the blades are stored in a dry and airy environment. Avoid plastic bags and cans where the rust grows rapidly. It’s totally objectionable to put knives in damp basements where rust destroys many blades. An ordinary cabinet at room temperature usually works well.
Keep in mind to not put knives with celluloid handles close together without good aeration, as they are more prone to rust attacks. Celluloid excretes petroleum gases and, therefore, reduces material on the steel and causes nickel to darken.
How much should one polish their knives?
How much a knife should be polished is of course a matter of taste. I feel the knives are often the most beautiful in found condition, a little patina shows that the knife has been used for many years. However, rust and dirt need to be removed in a gentle way. Then your fine-grained sand paper, grease/oil, and linen sheets will come in handy. A tube of Autosol metal polish can do wonders to clean the blades gently, even between the spacers where the blades usually rest in the recessed position.
What should I think of beginner collector of Eskilstuna knives?
My best advice is to start of by reading and thinking about what you want to focus your collection on. It is good to initially buy a small number of different knives for study purposes, but you have to watch out so that you don’t end up with a large number of knives, which can be difficult to sell at the price they where bought. Beginners, are seldom knowledgeable of the market and therefore can easily pay overprices for their first knives. I do think that while you are starting, you could gain from buying knives that more experienced collectors phase out of their collection. The cheaper your exposure to different knife makers, the more you can afford to learn about. If you encounter experienced collectors in your knife buying, take the opportunity to learn from their experiences, they often find it fun to talk about their hobby.