Dan Delavan and Phil Lobred, two long-time supporters of the knife industry, are the latest inductees into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame®.
The formal inductions will be held during the BLADE® Magazine Awards Reception the Saturday night of the BLADE Show, which will be held June 1-3 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.
The Cutlery Hall Of Fame is the only such body to recognize all members of the knife community. Nominated and voted on by living Cutlery Hall Of Famers, the inductees must have a) demonstrated extraordinary service to the knife industry; b) displayed honesty, character and integrity; c) advanced the industry by the creativity and originality of their works or contributions; d) as ambassadors or outstanding contributors furthered the positive impact of the knife industry on the world at large; and e) in summary, demonstrated a worthiness to be a member of such a prestigious group.
Along with his wife Pam, Dan closed the Plaza Cutlery retail knife shop in the South Coast Plaza Shopping Resort in Costa Mesa, California in January after 44 years as one of the world’s most forward thinking of brick-and-mortar cutlery stores. Dan was in on the ground floor, helping his parents, Del and Lois, open the store in 1974.
From the outset, Plaza was a pioneer in selling knives in a mall setting and custom knives in general—the latter at Dan’s insistence and something only a handful of stores at most did at the time. Plaza was a leader in hands-on customer service; sharpening while you waited; in-store meet-the-knifemaker events; custom and factory knife exclusives; the latest factory knives, swords, kitchen knives and assorted knife accessories; and later and through to today, online knife sales, including Randall knives and customs.
The Delavans started what would become the California Custom Knife Show in the early 1980s and made it into one of the industry’s premier cutlery events, including a visit from Sylvester Stallone that helped pave the way for the Rambo knife revolution that transformed the knife culture in general. Dan and Pam sold that show and started another one that was very successful. They recently sold the latter and it will continue under new management.
Dan also helped start the National Independent Cutlery Association, a buying group for domestic cutlery shops that boasted 100 member stores at its height. NICA helped its members in their business relationships with knife manufacturers and importers, had an annual knife and knife exclusives, and otherwise aided in furthering the availability of fine cutlery to its members’ customers nationwide.
Phil may be best remembered for commissioning what is arguably the most important knife of the modern custom era: the King Tut Dagger Reproduction by fellow Hall-Of-Famer Buster Warenski.
Beginning in 1983 Phil coordinated the annual Art Knife Invitational, an intimate gathering of the world’s elite knifemakers in San Diego, who in turn offered their knives for sale to the world’s elite custom knife collectors. The show took about a 10-year hiatus but returned as a biennial event and continued to draw the elites worldwide. It continues under the direction of Phil’s daughter, Sandee.
For a time in the 1970s Phil shared his home with Hall-Of-Famer Gil Hibben. Hibben made knives in Phil’s garage, with Phil by his side. Later, with Phil in tow, Gil enjoyed an audience with a special fan of Hibben knives: Elvis Presley. Phil and Gil visited with Elvis until the wee hours, a meeting that remains the stuff of legend.
Phil’s vast knowledge of custom knives and also 19th-century dress bowies proved an invaluable source of information for many, including BLADE. Perhaps Phil’s most important contribution was his faithful patronage and support of the custom knife industry. He bought and collected the knives of many makers from the early 1970s on at a time when the industry needed such buyers/collectors desperately to survive. As a Hall-Of-Fame nominator noted, “Phil was the definition of a knife collector, always talking and promoting knives. Then he started his Art Knife Invitational and that changed the custom knife industry forever.”