Friday, January 30

I just spent $26 acquiring this used Old Timer on eBay.

I may regret this decision, but I have been looking for approximately this knife since I lost mine two or three years ago. It turns out that the American Schrade factory closed some time in 2004, and Old Timer knives, which in the days of my childhood seemed to occupy a display case near or under the counter at every small-town hardware store, are now manufactured by Taylor in China.

(I imagine this is a tale not unlike that of Vise-Grip pliers, which is especially sad if you've ever hung out in DeWitt.)

I don't know if there's any difference in quality. They seemed like big-ticket items when I was a kid, but I suspect these were never exactly high-end products. I certainly don't harbor any particular feeling that Chinese factories are intrinsically worse at making mass-produced goods than American ones, though I do tend to assume that they run on the crystallized tears of small children, which might partially explain my feeling that, god dammit, I did not want a Chinese-made Old Timer pocket knife.

The other thing I did not want is most of what's currently offered up as a pocket knife. Most Americans can probably remember a grandfather, father, uncle, or aunt carrying an unobtrusive, useful, and sharpenable folding knife in one of a few basic patterns. These models seem mostly to have vanished. The market is presently flooded with badly-designed knockoffs of the Leatherman multi-tool (most built so poorly as to be useless) and knives situated firmly in the X-treme! School of Design.

Look at the Google image results for pocket knife and it's all there: Ridiculous curves, notches, and perforations. Unnecessarily serrated blades. Useless knobs and clips. Plastic. Garish colors. Elaborate grips with rubberized bits. The kind of low-rent quasi-military / industrial aesthetic that seems calculated to appeal to suburban mall thugs, frat boys, and 17-year-olds who watch a lot of Hollywood Action Product.

It's probably not fair to judge an entire culture by the junk it carries in its pockets, but sometimes I can't help it.