The purpose of this guide is to help knife sellers get more money for their knives, and avoid the problems that arise when a buyer is dissappointed. It is impossible to cover everything every buyer may want to know. However, providing certain basic information that every knife buyer wants will give them the confidence to place their highest bid for your knife. On the other hand, a buyer who receives a knife that is not in the condition that he/she expected, because of undisclosed flaws, etc,. may ask to return it, leave negative feedback, or simply never buy from you again. Problems can be avoided, and higher final bids obtained, by including the following five things that every pocket knife buyer wants to know:
1. What is the length of the knife with all the blades closed? This is the customary specification knife collectors use and it corresponds to the size given in price guides and old catalogues. Measure accurately; it can be very important.
2. Do the blades snap open and closed? When a pocket knife is about 90% of the way open the blade should pop open the rest of the way by itself. Also, when the blade is almost closed it should snap shut without your having to push it. If this happens collectors say the blade "walks and talks." On eBay this is commonly referred to as "snap," as in, "the blade snaps both ways." Some blades also snap to a half-open position called the "half-stop." If a blade does not snap it is called "lazy." This is a defect and you may be asked to take back a knife if you didn't mention that it fails to pass this important test. (If your blade seems lazy put a drop of oil in the joint and try it a couple times. It may just be dirty.)
3. How is the tang marked? The tang is the un-sharpened part of the blade where it pivots (on a non-folding knife the corresponding area is called the "ricasso.") The manufacturer usually stamps their trademark and other information there. This is arguably the most important piece of information you can provide. State (or describe) completely and exactly what is stamped on the tang(s) (even if you can only read part of the mark), as well as what is on the back of the tang(s). Be precise: e.g. there is a huge difference in value between KA-BAR and kabar. If there is advertising on the handle you will want to note that too, but always indicate the maker's name stamped on the tang. If you cannot read the tang a clear close-up picture may aid experienced buyers in determining the maker.
4. What is the condition of the blade(s)? Describe the condition but: this is where a picture is critical (more on pictures later.) Your evaluation of condition may be quite different from your buyers opinion. Show the knife with the blade(s) open in such a way that they are all visible. Rust, grind marks, and wear make a difference in value.
5. What is the condition of the rest of the knife? Look carefully; a buyer may forgive you if he/she finds a hard-to-see hair-line fracture that wasn't mentioned. A crack wide enough to stick your thumbnail into is another matter. If there is damage, show it in the picture and mention it in the description. Your "chip" may be their "chunk."
This basic information can be stated in a few sentences and, along with a clear picture or two, will tell most buyers what they need to know in order to place a respectable bid. Serious buyers may ask you a question anyway; do your best to answer what they ask - if you don't answer their questions they will not bid.
Avoid using jargon or technical terms you are unfamiliar with (a brief glossary of basic pocket knife terms can be found at http://reviews.ebay.com/Selling-Pocket-Knives-on-eBay-A-Glossary-Of-Terms_W0QQugidZ10000000001682306 ) For example; a "saber-ground" blade is not the same as a "clip" blade. It sounds more impressive, but used incorrectly it merely displays your ignorance. Don't worry about special terminology; show a clear photo of your knife. Terms such as "old," "antique," and the much over-used "vintage," are so vague as to be virtually meaningless. State what you know, clearly and simply.
Do not sharpen an old knife. You can oil the joints, clean off unsightly dirt, and even gently scrape on the tang area, with the edge of another knife, to remove rust and dirt in order to reveal the tang stamp. However, NEVER use sandpaper, steel wool, a wire wheel, or a Dremel tool to clean the blade or handles. Improper cleaning may reduce the value of an old knife by 50% to 75%. Every collector has his/her own acceptable standards of cleaning and most prefer to do it themselves.
Just the facts. Well-known knife expert Bernard Levine advises collectors, "Buy the knife, not the story." In other words, buyers should judge the value of a knife by what they can see, and disregard un-provable assertions about its history. Unless you are prepared to include a sworn statement and/or documentation about facts relating to the history of your knife (its "provenance"), it doesn't matter if it belonged to your grandfather or if someone told you it came from the Civil War, etc.
About pictures. On eBay a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Most digital cameras and scanners come with photo-enhancement software, or you can get basic programs elsewhere. Learn to use it to show off your knife to its best advantage. However, under no circumstances should you ever conceal damage or make the knife appear better than it really looks.
1. Your picture should be as large as your photo host allows, but no so large that it can not be viewed without scrolling back and forth across the screen.
2. The knife should fill the picture area. Crop off excess border area.
3. Generally, the viewing angle should be straight down onto the knife, with at least one picture showing the entire knife with the blades open. An angled view makes the blades appear worn or shortened.
4. The picture should be clear and show detail. A blurry image or a picture of a knife from several feet away is useless. Use the sharpen, brightness, and contrast options in your photo-enhancement program. It only takes a minute to change a dark fuzzy image into a bright crisp money-making photo. Here are some helpful hints:
a. Your scanner might make better pictures than your camera, especially close-ups. Refer to my Guide http://reviews.ebay.com/Detailed-Ebay-Pictures-Without-a-Camera_W0QQugidZ10000000004903646
b. By holding a magnifying lens or jeweler's loupe in front of your camera's lens you can take extreme close-up pictures. Use the camera's view screen to focus by moving the camera in and out.
c. If you send a clear picture to your photo host and it becomes blurry or has weird wavy lines in it when you view it on ebay, your ISP is compressing the file. Find this command in their options list and turn it off.
d. If you can't read the tang stamp it might help to include a close-up picture of it in the listing. Savvy collectors may recognize the name from only a few letters. (A tang stamp's words are almost always "center-justified." If letters appear unbalanced it is likely that part of the word is worn off.)
e. Don't "pose" your knife with other collectible objects or on a figured background. This isn't an art contest. Clutter detracts from the knife and can obscure detail. However, including a small common object such as a coin or ruler with the knife helps buyers visualize the size.
5. When showing multiple knives in one picture:
a. Specify which knife in the picture goes with which description. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not.
b. One large picture of each of six knives is preferable to six pictures, from different angles, of a pile of six knives. Buyers want to see detail.
c. Unless you can make a blanket statement such as, "None of these knifes have any damage to their handles," describe each knife individually. Avoid vague statements such as, "Some are damaged, some are not," or, "Some of the names are ..." Experienced buyers are cautious (and skeptical.) Without individual descriptions they will assume that the knives with the most desirable names also have the worst damage, and bid accordingly (or not at all.)
There are thousands of pocket knives sold on eBay every week. Many buyers will simply move on if your listing doesn't allow them to bid with confidence. It is the seller's job to describe his/her merchandise honestly and accurately, including its defects. Simply stating, "Ask questions before bidding," is not good enough. Many potential buyers won't bother to ask questions and you will lose bids.
Here are two pieces of advice I received, from an associate in the direct marketing business, many years ago when I began selling on-line. I believe they are wise rules to follow.
1. Always include a picture but describe your merchandise as though you do not have a picture.
2. Always include the shipping and handling charges, or a way to calculate them. Especially on lower priced items, buyers want to know what their total price will be.
A word in closing. A friend once said to me, "There are more pocket knives that you want than you have money to spend. When in doubt, pass it by." I click the "Back to List of Items" command dozens of times each day, thinking, "I wish the seller had said..., had shown..., had told me..." There are always other knives I want to buy and sellers who tell me what I want to know; and they get my bids.
I hope you find this information helpful and it results in your getting more money for your knives. I look forward to bidding on your auctions!
P.S. I do not claim to be an expert on anything, including knives. However, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years, which I am happy to share. Don't be afraid to ask uncle_ron(at)comcast(dot)net a question. If I know the answer I'll tell you. If I don't, I'll tell you that too. U.R.
Copyright By Ron Bucher, a.k.a. "Uncle Ron" (Uncle*Ron on eBay)
(C) 2006, 2007, 2008,2013 All rights reserved