How to identify an old knife

So, you picked up an awesome knife for $3 at a yard sale or your grandfather gave you his favorite blade and now you’re curious about what type of knife it is and what it’s worth. If you’re looking for an easy way to identify what type of knife you have, here are good places to start.

Find any identifying marks or symbols

The first, and most obvious, place to start is with the knife itself. Look for any sort of symbols, initials or identifying marks. Certain symbols or scratches in the handle or steel of the blade are usually calling cards of certain knifemakers or brands. Sometimes a simple Google search on whatever is on the knife is enough to identify the brand or maker.

Narrow down any possibilities by analyzing the construction

If there aren’t any intentional identifiers on the blade, it’s still possible to narrow down the possibilities of where, when and who it came from by simply looking at the qualities of the knife. For example, if you have a knife with a specific type of lock, you can usually narrow the date it was manufactured with a little research. You could also narrow down where it was made by looking at its style and influence.

Post your picture on websites

The Internet gives you access to billions of people, including many helpful knife enthusiasts. There are many websites, such as Blade Forums, where you can submit pictures of your knives and they’ll do their best to identify your knife.

Get a knife reference book

How could a book be possibly better than the Internet? On many levels, posting your picture is much quicker and easier when you’re trying to ID a knife, but it’s not always as educational. While searching through a reference book like this one on Randall knives for clues, you’ll learn about various styles and will be more likely to spot those rare knives that are being sold for cheap at the garage sales. Picking up books like the annual “Knives” publication will fill you with the knowledge that separates the dabblers from the diehards.

Go to a knife expert

Finally, if you’re all out of ideas and no one can help you, it’s worth seeking out a knife expert or museum curator. You never know if your knife is so rare and valuable that not many people know about it.

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