Timely articles on knives and the knife industry are what keep most enthusiasts interested, especially if issues covered in magazines and online are hot topics. Such is the case with the feature “Lotteries: Good or Bad for the Knife Industry?” by Mike Haskew that ran in the June 2014 issue of BLADE®. The gist of the article is that lotteries held at knife shows have their up and down sides, but for now they appear here to stay.
(At left is a special Ernest Emerson G3 Model with the USN logo for the USN Gathering.)
The feature starts: Since demand routinely exceeds supply, many custom knifemakers and knife show promoters use the lottery system in an attempt to make the opportunity to buy certain custom knives available to more people.
The concept of the lottery is not new to custom knives—BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member Ron Lake is said to have conducted the first knife lottery in 1972, with Jess Horn following suit in a most successful manner—and the Art Knife Invitational in San Diego long has used what is basically a lottery at the table of each of its 25 elite exhibiting makers. Meanwhile, those in recent years to capitalize on the phenomenon include Tony Bose, Ernest Emerson and Rick Hinderer, and they have been joined by a number of other makers and knife shows, including the Tactical Invitational, Usual Suspect Network (USN) Gathering and the California Custom Knife Show among the latter.
While there are variations on the theme, the basic premise of the lottery is that those interested in buying a knife from a certain maker place their names in a “hat” and hope they are lucky enough to have their names drawn for the first right to buy. It’s that simple.
Amid the ongoing discussion of the merits of the lottery, there are both advocates and skeptics.
“I’m a big proponent as long as a lottery makes sense,” related Larry Brahms of BladeArt and the USN Gathering knife shows. “You’ve got a maker doing a show and he has a five-to-seven-year backlog of orders. He wants to see customers and have something there. He may have six or seven pieces and 200 people that want to buy them. There has to be a fair way to sell the knives, and the lottery is a fair way if it’s organized and cohesive.”