The art knife versus cutting tool debate of whether knives are, or should be, works of art or cutting tools has always intrigued me. There are those who are a bit “put off” by art knives because they prefer utilitarian knives made to be used and employed when needed. That is certainly understandable, and thank goodness there are companies and makers out there fashioning good, sturdy, sharp serviceable fixed blades and folders.
But the notion that art knives are a modern phenomenon ignores the countless officers of world armies who historically carried dress daggers, kings and queens of countries gifted with jewel-encrusted, gold-inlaid, sculpted and carved swords and other edged weaponry, and the “average joe” who saved his pennies in the 1960s and '70s to buy a Buster Warenski, Bill Moran, Jim Schmidt or even Bob Loveless (many considered him a maker of art knives on occasion) art knife.
And one other argument I'd make is this—the debate doesn't need to be debated at all. There is plenty of room in the knife industry for both art knives and more utilitarian hunters, soldiers' knives, blue-collar fixed blades and folders, and many more. Look at it this way, just because one guy prefers his three-blade stockman for ranch work doesn't mean he shouldn't welcome the collector of high-end art knives into the industry and market with open arms. Collectors who appreciate that artistic nature and handcraft of knives help drive the industry forward and ultimately expand its offerings. And that's just good for knives and knife enthusiasts in general!
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