Knives 2009, edited by Joe Kertzman

The annual source for photos, addresses, and information on your favorite custom and factory knives, as well as a selection of articles from the best writers in the business. Includes a complete directory of custom knifemakers, supply houses, knife manufacturers and importers, and other knife related businesses such as photographers and engravers.

Returning this year: over 1000 FULL COLOR photos - a great feature, since many people buy this book primarily for the pictures.

Reviewed by Mac Overton

A veritable smorgasbord of eye candy and mind candy for the knife lover arrived recently, in the form of Knives 2009. This 312-page volume is filled with features, directories, and about 1,000 color photos of some of the best and brightest knives being made today.

Leading off the Features section is a tribute to the late Jim Schmidt, “a peerless bladesmith” and superb artisan of knives. Blade Magazine’s editor, Steve Shackleford, contributed this piece. Shackleford said that Schmidt, who died in 2000, was “a teacher of life and knew how to live it, how to interact with others and be a friend when a friend was needed, and to be a critic when a critic was needed.” Read about the impact this master had on other makers.

A new (to this volume) writer, Amanda Anderson Sullivan, contributes “The Startling Clean, Steely Icicle.” It delves into the ways knifemakers sometimes give names to their creations.

“Dining Knives in Folds of Sashes: Knife sets offer a small glimpse into Mongolia’s rich nomadic history and culture” gives a view into a world of cutlery I had never realized before. These knife sets are not just for dining, but are very utilitarian. Author Leslie Jordan Clary said that “the knife sets are comprised of a sharp knife, a flint and steel, a set of ivory chopsticks, and, often, a snuff bottle.” She said that Mongolian clothing doesn’t have pockets, so all necessary utensils hang from their sashes. Seems cumbersome, but it works for them.

The next feature, “The Magical Unicorn Knife,” is about an art knife made by ABS mastersmith Larry Fuegen. It was inspired by the sword of Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy in the 15th Century – a man who wanted to display his wealth and secure a place in history. The horn of the legendary unicorn reportedly cost ten times its weight in gold, making it the perfect knife handle for such a ruler. In addition to art, this article is a valuable addition to history.

Durwood Hollis contributes “Hunting Knives a Cut Above,” about knifemaker-designed knives you might actually be able to afford and use. Featured are blades by Buck / Tom Mayo, Spyderco / Bill Moran, BladeTech / Greg Lightfoot, Lone Wolf / Bob Loveless, DiamondBlade / Wayne Goddard, and Kershaw / Ken Onion, showing that custom collaborations are alive and well.

Being a Son of the South and an active member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I was fascinated by “Confederate Edged Weapons: Rare and Valuable” by Edward Crews. He says that “a mostly non-industrial South did a remarkable job of putting fighting blades in the hands of its men.” This tells how they did it in the face of such overwhelming odds.

One of the great rising stars of modern custom knifemaking, Murray Carter, and his knifemaker’s school are the subjects of “Schooled in the Ways of the Samurai,” by William Hovey Smith. Carter, who recently moved from Japan to the U.S. (he is a native of Canada), conducted a school for five novices this past year, in which he taught them traditional Japanese forging and knife-making techniques. Five days, five students, and 15 knives were the result. They even got to forge using a 150-year-old Japanese power hammer.

Dexter Ewing, one of the great current knife writers, contributes “The Leanest, Meanest Tactical Folders,” about the state of the art in this genré. It is informative, and these, too, are knives you might actually be able to afford and use.

“Soulful and Catchy Knives,” by Keith Spencer, is about the superbly artful blades of Australian Brian Chovanec. Being of Scots-Irish ancestry, I was incredibly impressed by the photos of his Celtic Dagger. His other work shown, including the Snake Hunter, is equally impressive.

Dr. Louis Nappen presents “Knife Proverbs for Every Occasion,” giving us the origin of many knife-related expressions.

After digesting all of those features, tighten your seat belt and get ready for the Trends, State of the Art and Factory Trends sections, which feature some of the finest knife photography you’ll see anywhere. This year’s edition includes about 1000 full color photos, so they should keep you occupied for quite a while.

The Directories are always a big help to writers like me (or to anyone else who occasionally needs to contact a knifemaker, knife supplier, manufacturer, photographer, mail order dealer, etc...) I even find the advertising section helpful.

I suggest you buy it – it only costs about the same as six gallons of gas at today’s prices – and once you’ve fed your mind with the features, try not to drool as you look at all the photos!

Knives 2009, edited by Joe Kertzman Softcover, full color, 312 pp.

Availability: Usually ships the next business day

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