This popular annual covers the state of the art in knives today and the
trends of tomorrow. A must-have book for those on the cutting edge.
Here are KNIVES 2003's featured articles:
"More Than Just Theater Knives, They're Freedom Fighters" by Richard White
"The Lure of Sword Canes Lingers Today" by James Ayres
"Hammerin' Hot Steel Aussie Style" by Keith Spencer
"Knives I Have Loved and Lost" by Linda Moll Smith
"Knife Lover Seeks Single, Shapely, Sharp Blade..." by Jack Collins
"Now Playing: The Powdered-Mosaic-Damascus Review" by Peter Martin
"She's a Battle Axe" by Greg Bean
"The Whole Knife Kit n' Caboodle" by Dexter Ewing
Meet the Maestros of Steel Making" by Joseph Szilaski
Building Blades in a South Boston Distillery" by Durwood Hollis
Included as usual are the many sections on "Trends," "State of the Art," and "Factory Trends," as well as the extensive directory of knifemakers, knife manufacturers, suppliers, embellishers, photographers, and everything else you can imagine.
Reviewed by Mac Overton
Knives 2003, the third volume to be edited by Joe Kertzman in the much-anticipated series, proclaims itself "The World's Greatest Knife Book." This latest edition lives up to that billing, especially in the field of annual books.
Like those of the past, the Trends, State of the Art and Factory Trends sections keep the reader up-to-date on the whats, whys and wherefores of the knife business. The directory, which in its various subdivisions totals about 120 pages, is to my knowledge the most complete anywhere. As a knife writer, I refer to the Knives directory dozens of times a year, and sometimes compare listings for a particular maker in the current edition with his or her listing from a few years back, to see what changes may have occurred in that maker's use of steels, handle materials, prices, etc. New this year are eight pages of color photos of some of the most striking knives around, inserted near the middle of the previous all black-and-white edition.
Joe Kertzman faced what I considered to be an intimidating task when he took over the annual series in the 2001 edition. It had been created by Ken Warner for DBI Books Inc. with the 1981 edition as its premier. DBI Books was eventually acquired by Krause, and Kertzman became the book's editor with the 2001 edition. This edition has the flavor of some of the earlier Warner-edited editions, because some of the sections are the same, but the commentary and wit in the lead-ins to the sections and descriptions of the knives are now Joe's alone.
The features in this book are every bit as interesting as those in past editions.
"More Than Just Theater Knives, They're Freedom Fighters!" by Richard White gives a little history of theater knives, those handmade products made for and by military personnel during World War II, and the contributions they made to the war effort. While some have been collecting theater knives for a long time, White's article should provide some valuable history and other information to those just beginning to collect these historic weapons and tools. White notes, "theater knives appeal not only to the cutlery collector, but to the military historian as well."
In "The Lure of Sword Canes Lingers Today," James Ayres reveals his success in finding a magnificent collection of the bladed canes on a trip to France. Those equal to the ones from the romantic era of the height of the British Empire are still available, and Ayres tells you why, where and how to get one.
Keith Spencer, in "Hammerin' Hot Steel Aussie Style," takes us with him as he visits Australian bladesmith Steve Filicietti in his shop and gives us more information on the fine handmade knives of the land "Down Under." It's also a good capsule history of knife manufacturing, as well as hand-making, of knives in that country.
"Knives I Have Loved and Lost" by Linda Moll Smith is, as the subtitle states, "anecdotes of adventures and misadventures with her favorite edged tools," starting with the knives which fascinated and awed her from her childhood on a Kansas farm to the present. She includes her favorite knives, and why they are or were her favorites. Although she has much experience in journalism, Mrs. Smith is a welcome new addition to knife writing, and is one of the few women (the only?) to have penned features for the knife book. This is definitely one of the best.
Indeed, her article, with its theme of loving knives, may have set the tone for titles of other articles. Among other headlines are: "Knife Lover Seeks Single, Shapely, Sharp Blade with Medium Build," and "She's a Battle-Axe."
In the "Knife Lover" article, Jack Collins tells why he considers fixed-blade knives with blades of 5 to 6 inches long as the ideal size for all-around wilderness use.
"She's a Battle-Axe," by Greg Bean is an interesting historical lesson into the many types of barbarian axes which once struck fear across Europe. Most of those shown are of Celt, Frankish, or Scandinavian design.
Peter Martin writes about some of the latest developments in damascus in "Now Playing: The Powdered-Mosaic-Damascus Revue," extolling the virtues of powdered steel billets and 'canned' damascus.
If you've ever considered crafting your own 'kit' knife, you will want to read about Dexter Ewing's experiences assembling using cutlery from various kits in "The Whole Knife Kit 'n' Cuttin' Caboodle." He made some fine fixed blades and folders from these kits.
Joseph Szilaski introduces us to a little bit of the mysticism and magic of bladesmithing in "Meet the Maestros of Steel Making."
Durwood Hollis takes us into an unlikely knife shop in his visit there: "Building Blades in a South Boston Distillery." It's about the creativity generated by the fusion of efforts of knifemakers Romas Banaitis and Scott Richter.
Although not included in the Features section, a major article, "Knife Pros Sing the Praises of a Cutlery Giant," appropriately introduces the Factory Trends section. Written by this author, it is about A.G. Russell as entrepreneur and designer, and his influence on both handmade and production knives of today.
There's something for almost everyone in this book. For anyone with even a casual interest in knives, Knives 2003 is well worth the price.
Softcover, 312 pp.