Of Knives and Men: Great Knifecrafters of the World, and Their Works

Firefly. Sept. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9780228104001. $35. DEC ARTS
Aficionados of collectible knives pay thousands of dollars for custom-crafted specimens. Collector and amateur knifemaker Salle describes the technical points of the craft, along with the joy, humor, and exuberance the creators put into their work. The 46 alphabetical entries include notable artisans (solo practitioners as well as parent-child and married teams) of the last 30 years based around the world. Entries begin with a few paragraphs of conversational narrative, accompanied by striking and detailed photos (mostly taken by the author) and specs (type, steel, handle, size, price range). From well-known knife types (dagger, Bowie) to the eight-part Zeppelin and mermaid integral, the book shows readers shiny steel and twisted multi-bar Damascus blades with handles of ironwood, mammoth molar, and fox jaw inlaid with precious metals, mother-of-pearl, and repurposed computer parts. Concluding chapters cover technical points of knife handle construction, embellishments, and sheath materials. Contact information is included for some artisans, while other entries note that the craftsperson rarely places a knife for sale.
VERDICT Elevates an everyday item to the realm of high art. Knife collectors will appreciate the background information and details on styles and materials. The photographs will appeal to everyone with an interest in fine craftsmanship.
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