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Businessweek

Collectors Are Treating Custom Pocketknives Like Rare Watches, Jewelry

Adventures in the blade trade.
From left: A $600 Wharncliffe knife by JW Smith, a $3,400 SMF by Mick Strider, and a $775 Sebenza by Chris Reeve. All are available at Monkey Edge in Mesa, Ariz.

From left: A $600 Wharncliffe knife by JW Smith, a $3,400 SMF by Mick Strider, and a $775 Sebenza by Chris Reeve. All are available at Monkey Edge in Mesa, Ariz.

Photographer: Stephen Lewis for Bloomberg Businessweek

“Everybody’s got a number,” says Brady Miller. For the tactical gear dealer in Mesa, Ariz., it was $195,000. Five years ago, he’d assembled a set of 16 knives by renowned bladesmith Ernest Emerson, including five of the very first iterations of his most sought-after model, the CQC-6. “That’s kind of the icon, the Rolex Daytona of the knife world,” Miller says.

He didn’t plan to sell the knives, but word spread rapidly among collectors, and a cold call changed his calculus. “I didn’t even add anything up in my head. I just thought what would make me not regret selling them,” Miller recalls. “So I said $195,000.” The buyer agreed without haggling or hesitation.