The world of custom knife making has its own share of celebrities, crafting styles, design choices, philosophies, and all manner of preferences that can lead to differences in tastes. However, some knifemakers truly break the mold and make products so exquisite that they are sure to catch any collector’s eye.
“I collect what I like and buy with a discriminating eye that I have refined over 30 years”, is what Dave Ellis, founder, and owner of Exquisite Knives replied when we pressed him on 3 of his personal favorites.
Exquisite Knives, for example is a site dedicated to selling and displaying incredibly rare knives from esteemed knifemakers such as Bob Loveless, Michael Walker, Bill Moran, and many others. A retired ABS Mastersmith and one of the most prolific collectors and traders of Loveless knives, it takes a lot to impress Dave.
Here are 3 rare custom knives that go above and beyond the craft.
1. Loerchner Rose Gold Folder
From Canada, Wolfgang Loerchner is about as well known as you can be in the world of art knives—knives that are created with the intention of having extravagant or elegant designs. An art knife is exactly that, the knife is merely a canvas for the craftsman’s vision, though superior construction is often a part of that equation!
Loerchner is well known for being a madman who uses no power tools in the making of his knives. When you gaze upon their ornate designs and the calculating precision of them you can hardly argue with the results. Loerchner takes something difficult to make and makes it even more difficult through his dedication to truly custom, hand-made work.
So coveted are his knives that there is often a multiple year wait to acquire one. Of course, Dave is acquainted with Wolfe and sought to obtain something truly memorable from him. “Carved rose gold frame with Damascus Inlays; The stainless-steel blade has immaculate grind lines. I have waited nearly 20 years to receive this knife and the final result is simply breathtaking and well worth the wait!”
What makes this knife truly special is that the knife was something Loerchner had never attempted before. Besides the cost of the raw materials, the gold frame would prove to be a highly difficult part to work with without error.
Dave is in possession of more than a few Loerchner pieces in his personal collection as well as pieces from Wolfe’s daughter, Elizabeth, who has taken up the torch of the family tradition.
2. Loveless (Larger) Big Bear Fighter
Bob Loveless is one of the most legendary and collectible knifemakers the world over. His knives are distinguished by their incredible craftsmanship and mastered fundamentals. Loveless knives will typically not feature incredibly ornate designs or eye-grabbing visuals.
Loveless knives personify the mantra that simplicity is beauty. The untrained eye may look at a Loveless knife and think they are viewing a typical knife one would use outdoors or for work—that is, until they pick it up. Never will a knife feel so perfect in your grip than with Bob Loveless’ pieces. The weight, the balance, use of materials, and refinement are all master-level work from one of the finest creators to take up the craft.
Loveless Big Bear fighters have a fanbase all of their own. In the immortal words of Crocodile Dundee after unsheathing a rather large Bowie knife, “that’s not a knife, THIS is a knife”. While Bowie knives are another type of knife than the Big Bear Fighter, the point still stands. Large knives command their own unique grace and majesty.
This larger Big Bear Fighter that Dave had custom ordered from Bob runs larger than the typical Big Bear blade length of approximately 8.5″. This knife is just over 16” long and truly challenges anyone who holds it to ponder if they are holding a knife or if they just picked up a shortsword!
3. Fred Carter Dragonfly Linerlock Folder
This knife was created by Dr. Fred Carter, a PHD holding Botanist who is also one of the most renowned creators of art daggers and folders in the world. Dr. Carter has been a member of the Knifemaker’s Guild for many years and even served two-terms as president.
This knife was presented at the Art Knife Invitational—a prestigious show that features some of the finest art knife makers of the past 40 years. Wolfgang Loerchner and his daughter Elizabeth have been featured prominently at the AKI for many years, as well as many other known makers such as Walker, Loveless, Warenski, Fogarizzu, etc.
This folder features a linerlock and is constructed so well that the opening and closing of it are smoother than butter. For folding knife enthusiasts, the feel of the open and close is a big part of the allure of folding knives—which have that “fidget” factor. They’re fun to play with and hard to put down.
However, that is only the opening gift this knife offers. The frame is hot gun blued, which is a durable finish typically found on firearms. Both the frame and the blade as well as the spine are tastefully engraved and features a gold adornment of dragonflies and cattails.
While it is a fine custom knife in its own right, for Dave, it perhaps represents how these knives truly are art. “Each time I hold this piece, it reminds me of someone I cherish. I get transported back in time and many wonderful memories flood my mind”
Art can stir the soul and move the mind, and for custom knife aficionados like Dave, they are one in the same.