Is a Custom Knife Dealer/Purveyor For You? Room 109
9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m: How collectors and makers can benefit from, and avoid problems in, their relationships with dealers/purveyors, with dealer/purveyor Les Robertson.
Roberston’s Cutlery Facebook
I have been involved in custom knives in one way or another for the last 36 years. I have been a full time custom knife dealer since 1995. As with many of you, I started off as a user of custom knives. In 1983, I was a Second Lieutenant attending the Infantry Officers Basic Course at Fort Benning Georgia. I was headed to the 101st Airborne to assume command of a rifle platoon. Having witnessed several factory knives that failed, I turned to custom made knives in order to find one I could count on in the field.
I spent 5 ½ years with the 101st at Ft. Campbell, KY. I traveled all over the world, operating in some of the harshest environments on the planet, carrying several knives to field test. This allowed me the opportunity to test different steels, handle materials, etc. In addition to our constant field time in and around Ft. Campbell, I was fortunate to attend Jungle School in Panama and Northern Warfare School in Alaska.
In addition to my military training and experiences, I have trained in several different martial arts, achieved the Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician –Ambulance Certification, Emergency Rescue Technician and Vertical Rigging and Rescue Technician Certifications. I am a PADI Certified Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver with the majority of my experience in the Caribbean.
1987: Started Robertson’s Custom Cutlery. My business has never been merely about buying and selling knives as there is always something to learn.
1989 – 1994: I won 42 custom knife display awards at shows across the United States.
1990 – present: I have conducted seminars for both collectors and makers at shows in the US and Canada.
1992: I started judging custom knife competitions. Highlights include judging at the Blade Show, the U. S. Knifemakers’ Guild Show and the Canadian Knifemakers’ Guild Show. When I first started judging, I was paired with other judges who had significantly more experience with custom knives than I did. Their insight into what to look for provided (and still does) me with an invaluable education. This education has made me a very “discriminating” buyer. Judging is one of my favorite activities as it presents you with the opportunity to compare the work of several knife makers at once.
1995: I became a full-time custom knife entrepreneur. Received my Masters in Business Administration.
1997 – 1999: Bob Neal and I introduced the custom knife world to something it had never seen before or since! LDC Custom Knives; which was comprised of 2 sets of 10 different folders and 1 set of 5 different fixed blades. What made these sets unique? Each knife in the set was made by a well-known custom knife maker and in order to get serial numbers 1 – 25 you had to buy the entire set. A total of 50 were made of each knife. The last set of knives featuring 5 fixed blades graced the May 1999 cover of Tactical Knives Magazine. LDC Custom Knives grew from listening to what the collectors wanted in a custom knife…not the so called “experts” who told us this concept would never work.
1998: Launched www.robertsonscustomcutlery.com
2001: Started Vanguard Knives. This was a departure from LDC as, while limited in numbers, there were no sets. Vanguard Knives has included both fixed blades and folders. To date, there have been 58 different models with each one having sold out.
2003: I wrote a book called, “Custom Knives Buying Guide.” To date, this is the only book written on collecting custom knives. The idea behind the book was to help, primarily newer collectors, sort out the myriad of ideas and information that is associated with the custom knife market in a small, pocket size handbook. “This is the best $10 you will ever spend with regards to custom knives,” declared Knife World Publication. The guide was updated to reflect the current market in 2018.
2006 – present: Mr. Steve Shackelford, the Editor of Blade Magazine, was kind enough to offer me my first opportunity to write for a magazine. My first article appeared in the fall of 2006. I have since written numerous articles for Blade on both custom knife makers and the business of custom knives. In 2008, I became a Field Editor for Blade Magazine.
2007 – 2017: Mr. Bruce Voyles asked me to write for Knives Illustrated. I was the Custom Knife Field Editor for Knives Illustrated. I am the only custom knife dealer to have a regular column in any knife magazine.
2013: I had the honor of being nominated for the Blade Cutlery Hall of Fame! I’m very grateful for this honor.
2016 – present: I have written articles for the Knife Annual.
2018 – present: I have taught classes for both collectors and knife makers.
When it comes to custom knives, I have been a user, designer, writer, judge and instructor. This is why I refer to myself as a custom knife entrepreneur. When it comes to custom knives, I don’t just buy and sell them.