What does NKCA mean?
What Does NKCA Mean?
I was recently asked what does the acronym or abbreviation NKCA stand for on knives. Really great question! So I thought I would make a great topic for this months blog.
NKCA stands for National Knife collectors Association. This association began in 1972 when a group of collectors, working at knife shows in Kentucky and Tennessee, began to realize there was a growing number of knife enthusiasts and collectors. They decided to band together and form a club that would expand this growing trend from a hobby into what they hoped would be a profitable business.
This new club was first named the National Knife Collectors & Dealers Association and formed in 1972. Then after a couple of years the "& Dealers" was dropped for tax considerations.
Their first elected president of this club, was the leading knife dealer at the present time, James F. Parker. The development of this club included enrolling members nationwide with a yearly membership fee which included receiving a small monthly newsletter from this organization. Later on this newsletter developed into a monthly magazine.
In 1974, Parker thought outside of the box and proposed that this newly developed club produce a "Collector's Knife" made exclusively for it's members. This was definitely a great idea for gaining new memberships for the NKCA club. Being a member of a knife club and also being able to purchase a limited edition knife from that organization, was such an unheard of thing at the time, that it drove the desire to be able to own one of these knives to a high demand!
Parker chose an Anglo-Saxon whittler pocket knife with the most desired Case XX pattern 6391. Even though Parker chose this highly desired patterned knife, he was having trouble finding any U.S. manufacturers interested in producing these knives for him. So he approached Howard Rabin of Star Sales in Knoxville, TN. Howard Rabin was the U.S. importer of German made Kissing Crane knives. His company jumped at the chance to be apart of this new venture and eagerly made the 1,200 knives that Parker needed for this organization.
In the beginning, these knives were sold for $12 each and only one knife per member but they did not sell out as they had hoped. Then later, they created another offer mailed out to their members, allowing each member to order up to three knives each at $15 per knife. Used as a promotional tool and fundraiser for this organization, this began the beginning of club knives.
In 1975, the desire for these Limited Edition NKCA club knives went from selling at $12 each to being sold for $600. The 1976 club knife, a Case XX 4380 whittler with a production of 5,000, would sell out! The price of $15 would peak at a value of $250. The 1977 club knife was a Kissing Crane stag handled gunboat canoe knife and 6,000 were produced, followed then by 8,000 IXL Wostenholm green bone handled three blade canoes in 1978. The peak number of knives produced for this club was in 1981 with an issue of 12,000 NKCA club knives made by Queen.
From that high point, the NKCA membership declined as did the number of annual club knives produced. Part of the reason this trend began to dwindle was due to regional clubs who wanted their own club knives for their members. The demand to be able to create a knife with a unique design, made all the rare unusual patterns and rare vintage patterns that had not been reproduced by a club almost impossible to find. The clubs would try many variations by changing the handle materials, shifting blades around and adding blades to existing patterns, etc. Nothing worked as well as the early revival of long discontinued vintage patterns, as originated by Parker and the NKCA.
There were so many club knives that it made it almost impossible to collect them all. The over supply had affected value of the knives. A $12 knife that was going for $600 was now going for less than $300.
Club knives do have their appeal to collectors because they were often made using unique or older rare designs, popular handle materials and also they usually have etching on the blade that easily identifies the club, the year and the limited number of knives made.
To me, I find collecting these knives to be collecting a part of history! Finding those unique knives that also has a very interesting and innovative story behind them.
Thanks for taking time to read this post. I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Please leave your comments below and also any suggestions for future topics.
Source: Knives Illustrated