Always ask an exhibitor's permission before picking up a knife from his table. Nothing's worse than some ya-hoo barging up, grabbing a knife and launching into a spiel on how much he knows about knives. Treat the exhibitor like you would any decent human being and ask permission to pick up the knife first.
Considerations for Folders
If it's a folding knife, after asking the exhibitor if you can pick it up, if it's closed and you want to open it, ask if you can do so (though most every folder maker will expect you to open it, check the action, etc). And if it's a multi-blade, NEVER open more than one blade at a time. It puts too much pressure on the backsprings and can cause undue wear and tear. If you've bought the knife, then open all the blades you want (though it will still cause undue wear on the backsprings). And if you open the blade(s), close it/them before handing the knife back to the maker.
Hand Someone a Knife Safely
Read more about the best way to hand someone a knife here.
Say It, Don't Spray It
Be careful when you are examining an exhibitor's knife not to spray spittle on the knife. Some people tend to “spray it instead of say it,” and spittle, if not wiped off, can cause “spit pits,” or tiny rust spots.
Wait Your Turn
Never interrupt an ongoing conversation at an exhibitor's table. The exhibitor might be in the process of selling a knife and if you barge in and start blabbing away, it may chase the buying customer off. Besides that, it's rude.
Make Way for Business
If you're talking to an exhibitor and have no intention of buying a knife and see someone next to you who obviously is intent on buying a knife from the exhibitor, politely bow out and give way to the potential buyer.
Leave “I'll Be Back” to Arnold
Before leaving his/her table, unless you are really going to do it, never tell the exhibitor, “I'll be back.” Don't be labeled an “I'll Be Backer”! 😉
Don't haggle over price with custom knifemakers. They know how much time, effort and materials they put into a knife. If you don't like the price, move on.
Getting in Close
Using a loupe to examine an antique knife is one thing but don't use one to examine the custom maker's knife at the maker's table. It's just not very good form. Now, if it's a custom knife sold by a purveyor, that's different. After all, if you have a question about the knife's authenticity, it is possible that the purveyor made a mistake in buying the knife. We all err at times, right?
These are a few of the rules of knife show etiquette. There are others. Practice proper knife show etiquette and your entire show experience will benefit as a result.
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