What Condition Is My Folding Knife In
I started collecting knives over 18 years ago as of this writing and I like to think that my collecting, research, and just general knowledge of knives that I’ve gained is worth something in judging the condition of a knife. All along I’ve tried to learn the value of knives, depending on their brand name, condition, style, and current market demands. But the one thing I never knew was how to judge a knife to be in Mint, Near-Mint, or Excellent to just Good according to the current charts.
There were charts out there that described each category, but for some reason I just couldn’t understand and make the distinction between some of the categories. Some may have used the same category names, but their requirements and descriptors were very different from one chart to another.
So, I’ve been looking all over for different grading scales, studying the wording, the knife conditions that are being considered, what is acceptable and what’s not in each category. Grading charts vary from the number of categories, their names and the descriptors that are used for saying, an Excellent or Near-Mint. So, I read and study as many charts and articles as I could, taking the best of what I saw as the most appropriate descriptors. I even contacted auction houses, no help because very few of them can agree.
In the chart that I developed I take what I considered the best of the best and developed some of my own condition requirements. I use some different words to describe it’s condition like, shall, must be, will not. Example: “Any handle inlays and shields shall be in factory condition.”
Some grading charts even have separate grading standards for NEW or USED knives, I don’t. To me an item is new only once and when it’s removed from its packaging, it’s used. Like when you drive a new car off the lot, it’s now used. I’m strictly looking at the condition of the knife and nothing else.
I have no illusion that my chart will become any kind of standard or used by anyone else, but I’m military with a legalistic background so I need everything spelled out exactly. The chart below is what I finally came up with and is what I will be using on the over 850 knives in my personal collection or when someone asks me to clean, sharpen or grade their knife.
DAVID’S BLADES FOLDING KNIFE CONDITION CHART
1. Knives in this category are still factory new. Never sharpened and never used.
a. All blades shall still have the original factory polished finish, no scratches, rust, pitting or tarnish.
b. All tang markings shall be clearly readable without signs of wear.
c. Blade etchings by the manufacturer, shall still be in factory condition without signs of wear.
a. Must still have the original factory finish with absolutely no scratches, rust, pitting or tarnish.
b. Etchings or other embellishments shall be in original factory condition.
a. Handles shall be original factory material with no evidence of wear, chips, cracks, scratches, defects or
b. Factory inlays, shields or decorative embellishments shall be in original condition without wear or damage.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs, liners, pins, and bails shall be in original factory condition without scratches, rust, pitting or tarnish.
NOTE: A knife that has been cleaned or repaired in an effort to restore it to factory MINT condition shall only be graded as NEAR-MINT or lower depending on the category requirements and condition met.
NEAR MINT CONDITION:
1. Knives in this category have no mechanically, cosmetic, or material defects. These knives are seldom used.
a. All blades shall still have the original factory polished finish with some light honing is allowed, however there must be no noticeable blade material loss.
b. A very small amount of light scratches is acceptable, but no rust, pitting or tarnishing.
c. All tang markings must be clearly readable, but some very minor wear marks are acceptable.
d. Etchings or other embellishments shall still be in original factory condition with very small signs of wear.
a. Must still have the original factory finish with very few scratches, but no gouges, rust, pitting or tarnishing.
b. Etchings shall be in original factory condition with very minor scratchers, but no gouges, rust, pitting or tarnishing.
a. Handle material may have minimal scratches or color fading, but no gouges, cracks, chips, or missing material.
b. Factory inlays, shields or decorative embellishments shall be in original condition with minor signs of wear.
c. Any handle material wear is barely noticeable.
d. No missing factory installed pins, screws, or bails.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs, liners, bails shall be in original factory condition with only minor signs of scratches, but no rust, pitting or tarnishing visible.
1. Knives in this category are still in extremely good working condition and are frequently used as EDC knives.
a. May have been sharpened, but still retain their original shape with no noticeable blade material loss.
b. Light scratches, small amounts of rust, tarnishing or pitting is visible.
c. Tang markings may be slightly worn but are still clearly readable.
d. Any factory etchings may be slightly worn but are still clearly readable.
a. All bolsters shall still be intact with only light EDC scratches. Small amounts of rust, pitting or tarnishing is allowed.
b. Any etchings or embellishments are still clearly noticeable.
a. Some EDC scratches, a small chip or crack and some color fading on the handles is acceptable, but no pins/screws are missing.
b. Any inlays, shields or decorative embellishments should still be intact with only minor signs of wear.
c. A small amount of handle material wear is noticeable in certain areas on either side.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs, liners, and bails may have minor signs of scratches, rust, pitting or tarnishing visible.
1. Knives that are in this category are usually well used but are still good working knives.
a. Have been sharpened, but the blade may be slightly shorter or narrower than its original size.
b. Blades may be harder or looser to open/close and may show signs of some rust, pitting or tarnishing, but does not affect the use of the blade.
c. Tang markings are noticeably worn, but still readable.
a. All bolsters shall be intact, some EDC scratches, rust, pitting or tarnishing and may be slightly dull or loose.
b. Any etchings or embellishments are still noticeable with some fading or wear.
a. Handle may have some scratches, small cracks, but no major chipping or loss of handle material.
b. Handle inlays or shields may show signs of wear or damage but are still present.
c. There may be signs of the scales starting to separate at some points from the liners/springs.
d. Some color fading or wear on the handle texture/pattern will be common, but no pin or screws are missing.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs and liners may have scratches, rust, or tarnishing present.
b. Camping/Utility knives might have damaged or missing bails.
1. Knives in this category must still be useable working knives.
a. Blades have been heavily sharpened, but no more than 1/3 to 1/2 blade material loss.
b. Still has all blades even though they may be worn or shortened and could have an edge or point chipped, but still useable.
c. Blades may be much more difficult or even looser to open or close.
d. Rust and tarnishing may be present, and a blade may have moderate pitting.
e. You can still identify the maker by the tang stamp or shield even though there may be a lot of wear.
a. Bolsters may have scratches, dents, rust or pitting with a dull surface appearance.
b. Any etchings or embellishments may or may not be visible due to wear or damage.
c. Bolster may be slightly loose.
a. Handle inlays or shields may be missing.
b. Some scratches, cracks, or chips on edges or near pins, is likely.
c. Scales are starting to separate at some points from the liners/springs.
d. Color fading and a significant amount of wear on the texture/pattern is to be expected, but no more than one pin/screw may be missing.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs and liners may have scratches or rust and show a lot of tarnishing.
b. Camping/Utility knives might have damaged, replaced, or missing bails.
1. Knives in this category are questionable as to whether they should be used or not and to their safety.
a. Blade material loss is over 50% of the original shape and size.
b. Blades may be very loose or difficult to open/close. They are usually much shorter, or one blade may be broken or missing.
c. Blade chips or deep scratches may be visible and may affect the blades use.
d. Some blades could have heavy rust, pitting and tarnishing.
e. Tang marks are barely readable if at all.
a. Bolsters are dull, heavily worn, damaged or even missing.
a. Handles may show heavy wear, deep scratches, chips, or missing pins.
b. Any inlays or shields may be heavily worn, damaged or missing.
c. Handle material is well worn from EDC and a scale may be missing.
5. Other Items:
a. Springs, liners, pins, or any other items may be damaged or missing.
Any knife worse than poor and no longer useable or even safe to use because of its condition. These knives are usually missing one or more parts and are worthless except for any salvageable part(s).
WARNING: Avoid possible personal injury and DO NOT use any pocket knife in this condition.