How to Appraise an Old Knife

By Lawrence Koenig
Appraising a knife requires research and a willingness to seek out experts.

You may be wondering about the value of a knife that you've had for many years or you recently inherited. Finding out the value of a knife requires research and perhaps a visit to a professional. But you can gain some insights by following a few basic steps.

Take pictures of your knife. This will enable you to send the pictures to an online appraisal service to get a general idea of what your knife is worth, and the photos will serve as a record for insurance purposes. Be sure to take clear, close-up photos of the maker's marks and any identifying features.

Construct a provenance. If at all possible, determine where the knife is from, where it was purchased or from whom it was inherited. You will need to give this information to an appraiser if the knife is rare and hard to identify and further research is required.

Look through knife collecting guides. This will help you identify your knife. Visit your local bookstore for the most current publications. Also look through knife collecting magazines. Most will have a "what it is worth" column to which you can submit a picture of your knife to gain a free appraisal.

Visit a gun and knife show. There will be experts there who can give you a solid estimation of the value of your knife and may even make you an offer to buy it or trade it for another item. Be sure to ask around to get several estimates.

Contact the manufacturer, if the company is still in existence. If not, seek out a local historical society or avid knife collectors in town.

Ask other collectors what they feel your knife is worth. By posting pictures and details on a knife collecting message board online, you will be able to estimate what your knife is worth, at least to collectors. You can continue your research by carefully watching online auctions for knives of the same make and model as your own.

About the Author

Lawrence Koenig has been a technical writer since 1988. His expertise includes the U.S. military, hospitality and transportation industries. Koenig holds a Bachelor of Science in literature from Oral Roberts University and he is pursuing a Master of in Education.