Have you ever wondered why some old stuff are more valuable? More than the fact that they still exist today despite being produced a long time ago, vintage things give the people of today a glimpse of the past. Behind every antique item is a story.
For instance, there may be home decorations handed down from one generation to the other— by simply looking at a vase, a cabinet, or a tool, a flashback of memories comes visiting.
The same situation is true for antique kitchen knives. Knife enthusiasts, cooks, and chefs find old knives attractive because of the history ingrained in the blades. Using it in their kitchen is like cooking in the very era the old kitchen knife was forged. Also, bear in mind that old knives are created with the technology of the past. That they can still be used in the present gives you an idea of just how much craftsmanship was given to each knife.
If you are interested in owning old cutlery knives, this article will discuss the brands you should look for and where to buy them. You can also read about old kitchen knife restoration to handle the process yourself.
Vintage Kitchen Knife Brands All Over the World
Knives are among the oldest tools used by humans—the very first tools resembling them appearing 2.5 million years ago, studies have shown. Only archaeology has the power to search for million-year-old knives, and no amount of restoration can make them useful in present-day applications. However, enthusiasts may find knives that are a hundred years old, either ready to be used in the kitchen or requiring restoration. Finding century-old knives is possible because existing knife manufacturers are still in operation. They have been making knives for several hundred years.
Dexter-Russel has been creating knives in America for the past 203 years since its founding in 1818. If you see vintage chef knives, skinning knives, butcher knives, and other knife types with the Dexter-Russel markings, you have found yourself a treasure. They may be far from the shiny kitchen knives the brand has today, but these old cutlery knives are just as valuable and practical, if not more.
Maserin is a renowned Italian brand that offers various knife types from hunting, outdoor, military, rescue to kitchen applications. Established in 1960, the brand has produced knives in the past 61 years. It may not be old enough as other knife manufacturers, but finding vintage chef knives and other old knives from Maserin is still a prized antique. You can add your latest Maserin discovery to your vintage knife set collection.
Your knife collection wouldn’t be complete without Japanese knives. The Santoku knife, for one, is a great addition. Kikuichi is a company established in the samurai era 750 years ago. Today, the company is still operating with the same processes passed down from one family generation to the next. Finding vintage kitchen knives and other knife types marked with the company logo and chrysanthemum will make your eyes beam.
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Solingen, Germany, is the home of the famous Solingen knives, which are regionally trademarked blades across local manufacturers. The beginning of knife-making in the region is unknown, but it’s been recorded to have existed even before the place was named Solingen. Among the oldest knife manufacturers is Zwilling J.A. Henckels, who has been creating knives since 1731. Finding a vintage chopping knife from this brand is like finding a rare and precious gem.
Swords and sabers, traditional weapons used in wars back in the 17th century, are among the blades created by Böker, so you’ll probably get an idea of how old the brand is. Today, Böker vintage pocket knives and carving sets are being sold online. Score yourself a priceless cutting tool with a vintage Böker piece.
- Case Knives
Case Knives are more than a century old. The knives created by the Case Brothers even have a place in America’s rich history as weaponry and everyday tools in the past. To own a Case vintage knife also means having a piece of American history in your kitchen or pockets.
Mac is another knife manufactured in Japan and is famous for its Kataba and Ryoba. It began creating knives in 1964. Of the millions of knives produced since then, there may still be vintage Mac knives in the market. Keep an eye out for signature Kataba and Ryoba knives.
- Al Mar
This knife company was named after its founder, who built the brand in 1979. The company produced knives for military purposes, but as the company grew, it expanded to different functions, including kitchen knives. Find a vintage knife from this brand, and you have yourself a tool for its intended purpose, as well as self-defense—inspired by Al Mar’s very own experience.
Where to Buy Vintage Kitchen Knives
We can all wish that vintage knives can be as accessible as regular knives we can buy in retail stores, but unfortunately, they aren’t. It takes patience to scout for old cutlery knives. Nonetheless, here are the four places where you’ll likely find them:
- Online shopping platforms
- Garage sales and thrift shops
- Vintage brands’ websites
- Visiting the manufacturers
You can scout all these options if you are really into vintage knife collection. With constant search, you may find something that will earn a spot on your collector’s item shelf.
Antique Kitchen Knives Restoration
Once you’ve found the perfect vintage knife, don’t be shocked if they are not as shiny as the knives you see today. Your job as a restoration specialist begins. You can delegate the task to professionals or follow these steps to restore them yourself.
- Remove the rust through a special solution. If you want to be a bit careful, you can mix warm water and citric acid. Submerge the rusty knife in the mixture and wait for the rust to soften. Depending on the hardness of the rust, use steel wool or sponge to remove them.
- Refinish the blade. If you find knives that have chipped or damaged blades, a coarse stone can shape them into a perfect blade. You can also do a cutting action to the sharpening stone as an easy way to even the crookedness of the blade.
- Restore the knife handles. The knife handle of a vintage chopping knife and other old knives are made of wood, so you’ll need tools like wet sand or sandpaper to bring back its glory. After cleaning the handle, apply mineral oil to the handle for protection and an all-new shine.
- Sharpen the vintage knife. If the vintage chopping knife you will find is already sharp, you can skip this part. However, if you find ones that are long forgotten in time, you’ll need to resharpen them before use.
- Vintage knife maintenance. You’ve exerted much effort in finding and restoring these old knives. Do not put that energy to waste through proper knife care. If you know how to care for regular knives, double the care you give to your vintage knives. Exert extra effort to maintain it if you want to use the vintage knife in your daily cutting needs.
Vintage knives are difficult to find, but the process can be more straightforward if you know where to start looking and, of course, which brands are the oldest. You can keep an eye out for knife marks and check which bears the logo of the brands mentioned above. Scout for knives online, in thrift stores, or go the extra mile and visit the knife manufacturers in their home countries. The chase is the most exciting part.
Once your hands have landed on your vintage kitchen knife, follow the step-by-step restoration process, so you can use the knife or display it in no time.