How to Determine the Age of a Pocket Knife

By John VanCott
Antique pocket knife

Collecting antique and vintage pocket knives is a popular hobby. Traditionally, nearly every man or boy, from doctors to farmers, had a pocket knife with them. There are many specialized knives made for certain professions or recreational uses. An important part of collecting is being able to identify the age of a pocket knife. There are a number of things that affect value. Age, rarity, condition and demand all play a roll.

Examine the material of the knife. Early pocket knife handles were made of wood, bone, ivory or metal. Later examples incorporate plastics and modern synthetic materials. Materials used in the past are still used today, but can be a good indicator of age. Older blades are made or iron and steel. The blade will develop a patina and darken with age. Newer pocket knives have blades of stainless steel that remain bright and shiny

Become familiar with hallmarks and logos of pocket knife manufacturers. Some company logos changed over the years. Lettering font may change as well. A good pocket knife guide book will help you identify what years certain logos and hallmarks were in use. Learn when common knife makers began selling knives and when they closed shop.

Look for wear. Although not a positive sign of age, as some old knives are in mint condition, and some newer knives are well used, wear can show that a knife has age. A sure sign of age is wear on knife handles from being carried in a pocket for years.

Familiarize yourself with styles of pocket knives. Learn when certain styles came into existence. Become knowledgeable on the introduction of types of knives and when they were popular.

Join pocket knife collecting clubs and online forums. Other collectors are a great source of information Network with other pocket knife enthusiasts. Post photos of pocket knives you are having trouble dating and identifying. Ask other collectors to post or email you with information.