Rare Knives (Antique & New-Age) Worth Money (Rarest Sold For $1.5 Million)

Rare Knives Worth Money: A Collector‘s Guide to Finding, Owning and Investing in Valuable Blades


For thousands of years, knives have been essential tools for survival, combat and daily tasks. And for nearly as long, people have sought out the most beautiful, well-made and rare knives to add to their collections. Knife collecting is a hobby that combines an appreciation for artistry, craftsmanship, history and functionality.

The value of collectible knives, like any commodity, is driven by scarcity and demand. The rarest knives, whether antique gems or modern custom creations, can fetch staggeringly high prices from devoted collectors. In this article, we‘ll explore the world of high-end knife collecting, from identifying the most sought-after blades to tips for starting or growing your own collection. We‘ll also showcase some of the most valuable knives that have sold at auction or through private sales.

Types of Collectible Knives

Antique Knives

An antique is generally defined as an object that is 100 years or older. So antique knives are those that were made pre-1900s. The earliest collectible knives date back to ancient times, but most antique knives available today are from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Characteristics of antique knives include hand-forged blades made of iron, steel, bronze, silver or even gold. Handles were made from natural materials like wood, bone, ivory, horn and mother-of-pearl. Embellishments like engraving, inlay, and carving denote a high-end antique knife.

To identify an antique knife, first look for a maker‘s mark on the blade or handle. Well-known antique knife brands include Boker, Case, Schatt & Morgan, and Tidioute. You can also identify the general era of an antique knife by its style and materials. For example, Medieval and Renaissance knives often incorporated precious metals and jewels, reflecting the tastes of aristocracy.

The value of an antique knife depends on its age, condition, rarity and provenance. A knife verified to have been owned by a prominent historical figure will be especially valuable to collectors. For example, in 2019 a gold-handled hunting knife gifted to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt sold at auction for nearly half a million dollars.

Other factors that affect an antique knife‘s value include:

  • Intactness and functionality of the blade and mechanism
  • Presence of the original handle material, bolsters and embellishments
  • Absence of chips, cracks, pitting, rust or repairs
  • A maker‘s mark in excellent condition
  • Inclusion of the original case, box or sheath

The most valuable antique knives are those with historical significance, unique designs or high-quality materials. For instance, a gold-encrusted 16th century German knife sold at auction for $2.4 million. An important Renaissance-era Italian stiletto went for $1.6 million. Pocket knives given by Queen Victoria to her subjects sometimes sell for over $10,000.

Vintage Knives

Vintage knives are more recent than antiques, generally referring to those made in the early to mid 20th century (roughly 1900-1960). Many serious knife collectors focus on vintage knives because they tend to be more available and affordable than antiques while still offering fine craftsmanship and classic designs.

Some of the most popular patterns for vintage pocket knives include:

  • Barlow – an elongated oval-shaped handle with one or two blades
  • Canoe – an elongated handle with two equally-sized pen blades
  • Congress – a curved handle with three to six different blades
  • Stockman – an elongated handle with three blades (clip point, spey and sheepsfoot)
  • Trapper – a handle with two large blades, one clip point and one spey

Top vintage knife brands to collect include Case, Boker, Queen, Schrade, Ka-Bar and Camillus. Knives made by skilled individual craftsmen (often called "cutlers") are also highly prized by collectors. Famed 20th century cutlers include Bill Moran, Buster Warenski, Bob Loveless and Ron Lake. Custom-made vintage knives by these icons of the craft regularly sell for five figures.

Vintage knives become collectible by demonstrating outstanding quality, innovative designs or historic cachet. Take the U.S. Marine combat knife, or Ka-Bar, issued during World War II. Well-preserved examples of this classic fixed blade can be worth over $1,000 to collectors of military memorabilia. Vintage automatic knives, or "switchblades," are also valuable due to their liminal legal status and association with mid-century counterculture.

Modern Custom and Limited Edition Knives

Today‘s high-end knife market is dominated by contemporary craftsmen making custom pieces for collectors. Modern knife makers have access to superior materials like Damascus steel, titanium and carbon fiber. They create highly technical folding mechanisms and incorporate precious metals, jewels and rare materials like dinosaur bone or meteorite.

Modern custom knife makers typically specialize in certain styles, from tactical fixed blades to sleek gentleman‘s folders. Collectors follow their favorite makers and vie for their new designs, which are often produced in extremely limited quantities. A custom knife by a sought-after contemporary maker can easily sell for thousands of dollars on the private market.

Knife companies also release limited edition versions of their popular models, often collaborating with celebrity designers or using premium materials. For example, Buck Knives released a 50th anniversary edition of its iconic 110 Folding Hunter with a genuine jade handle, selling for over $1,000. Boker issued a limited run Damascus steel version of its Kwaiken folding knife for over $500.

A modern custom or limited edition knife may become highly collectible due to:

  • The designer‘s reputation and craftsmanship
  • Use of rare or precious materials
  • An innovative design or mechanism
  • Pop culture connection or celebrity affiliation
  • Extremely limited production numbers

Tips for Knife Collectors

Whether you‘re just starting out or looking to expand your collection, here are some tips for acquiring high-quality, valuable knives:

  1. Educate yourself on knife history, styles and makers. Familiarize yourself with the most collectible knife patterns, materials and brands. Read knife magazines, books and web forums to learn about the market.

  2. Decide what types of knives you want to collect, and focus your efforts there. Specializing in a certain era, style or maker will help you establish expertise and avoid overspending.

  3. Always buy the best condition knife you can afford. Condition is key to value, no matter the knife‘s age or pedigree. Avoid knives with missing parts, repairs, or extensive damage.

  4. Get valuable knives authenticated. For expensive antique or custom knives, consider getting a professional appraisal or certificate of authenticity. Large auction houses or established knife dealers often offer this service.

  5. Handle knives carefully and store them properly. Wear gloves when handling mint condition knives. Use soft cloths to clean the blades and handles. Store knives in a cool, dry place inside lined drawers or padded cases.

  6. Insure your knife collection. If you have numerous high-value knives, consider a blanket insurance policy specifically for collectibles. Check that the policy covers accidental damage as well as theft and loss.

  7. Track market prices. Keep up with the realized prices of collectible knives by studying dealer catalogs, auction results and online sales. Knowing the current market will help you buy and sell wisely.

Where to Find Rare and Valuable Knives

Knife shows and exhibitions are great places to see rare knives in person and meet other collectors. The BLADE Show in Atlanta is the world‘s largest knife show, featuring hundreds of vendors with antique, vintage and modern custom knives for sale. The National Knife Collectors Association (NKCA) also hosts regional knife shows across the U.S.

Reputable knife auction houses like Rock Island Auctions regularly feature high-end knives among their lots. These auctions allow you to bid on vetted knives and see what prices they ultimately realize. You can also find valuable knives at estate sales, antique shops and flea markets, though extra research is recommended when buying from these sources.

The internet has made it much easier to find specific models of collectible knives. There are many knife forums and Facebook groups where collectors buy, sell and trade knives. eBay remains a popular marketplace, especially for more affordable vintage knives. For high-value custom and antique knives, look to specialty dealers like Knife Purveyor, Arizona Custom Knives and Plaza Cutlery, which offer authenticity guarantees.

Wherever you‘re knife shopping, beware of counterfeits and reproductions. Unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off a knife as older or more valuable than it really is. To avoid fakes:

  • Thoroughly research the knife you want to collect, including maker‘s marks and design details
  • Always ask for additional photos of the actual knife for sale
  • Request an in-hand inspection or approval period before purchasing
  • Pay through methods that offer buyer protection, like PayPal or credit cards
  • Only buy expensive knives from reputable dealers with money-back guarantees

Showcase of Valuable Knives

Here are just a few examples of the rarest and most valuable knives sold in recent years:


  • Gem of the Orient Knife – A 19th century Indian knife with a jade handle and gold inlay, once owned by a Shah. Sold for $3.3 million.
  • Abraham Lincoln‘s Pocketknife – An ivory-handled multi-blade knife belonging to the 16th U.S. president. Sold for $62,500.


  • Randall Model 1 Fighting Knife – A World War II combat knife handmade by Bo Randall. Sold for $7,000.
  • Schrade 1893-1973 Commemorative Knife – A limited edition gold-plated Uncle Henry folding knife, one of only four made. Sold for $10,000.


  • Marfione Custom HK 417 Knife – A hand-ground folding knife made from a Heckler & Koch 417 rifle barrel by Anthony Marfione. Sold for $18,000.
  • Gold Plated Spearpoint Knife – A custom folding knife with a 24k gold handle and mammoth tooth inlay by Lloyd Hale. Sold for $25,000.


  • Buster Warenski‘s "Gold Spike" Knife – A working lock-back folder made entirely of gold, with a spike blade resembling a railroad spike. Sold for $100,000.
  • William Henry‘s "One Percent" Knife – A custom pocketknife featuring 24k gold, platinum, diamonds, sapphires and a 10,000 year-old woolly mammoth tooth. Sold for $75,000.

The Future of Knife Collecting

As with any collectible market, the world of knife collecting is constantly evolving. Tastes change, new makers emerge and values fluctuate. However, the most high-quality knives have historically appreciated over time, and experts believe this trend will continue in the future.

The internet has undoubtedly expanded the knife collecting community and made it easier than ever to research, buy and sell knives. Online marketplaces and social media have connected knife makers and collectors across the globe, but they‘ve also enabled the spread of counterfeits and misinformation. As the hobby moves into the digital age, collectors will need to stay vigilant about authenticity and provenance.

To keep the knife collecting hobby thriving, established collectors should make an effort to welcome newcomers of all ages. Knife shows and online communities are great opportunities to share knowledge and encourage the next generation of enthusiasts. After all, today‘s beginning collector may be tomorrow‘s high-end buyer.


Collecting knives is more than just a hobby; it‘s a way to own a piece of history, a work of art or an example of innovative craftsmanship. The most valuable knives combine rarity, quality and cultural significance – and these prized blades command top dollar from discerning collectors.

Whether your passion is ornate antique bowies or sleek modern tactical folders, there‘s a knife out there to suit your taste and budget. By educating yourself, buying carefully and taking proper care of your knives, you can build a collection that‘s the envy of your peers – and potentially a wise investment for the future.

Of course, the greatest reward of knife collecting isn‘t measured in dollars, but in the joy of discovering and preserving these fascinating tools. So get out there and find the knife of your dreams – and who knows? It just might be the next record-breaking blade.

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