Knives have been a part of man’s history, and W.R. Case Cutlery Company had a vital role. There are different types of case knives, and they’re used for anything like hunting, camping, and in the kitchen. You’ll be surprised how these case knives are valuable not just for their history but their usefulness.
It’s obvious that people love knives and love to collect the rarest types. Hence, it’s not surprising that their value has appreciated significantly, especially the case knife variety. These knives are so expensive due to their rarity, design, cutting-edge technology, and usefulness.
This guide closely examines the 10 most valuable case knives. However, before we apprise you of these highly-priced case knives, we’ll take a quick trip down history lane.
History of Case Knives: A Walk Down History Lane
Old knives can be traced down to 9,000 years back, and the oldest of the pocket knives is the Chachapoyan knife. We can’t trace the exact age of this particular knife, but it’s safe to say that it’s much older than those made in recent times.
A knife was discovered in Hallstatt, Austria, with a bone handle. The village existed around the 8th to 6th centuries BC. That was during the bronze to iron age, and they were predominantly a Western and Central European tribe.
The people of Hallstatt were more of Vikings, and their major occupation was farming before later evolving into metalwork. The Vikings boosted their economy with the salt mine, and they began an international trade that reached wider regions.
Many rich locations were discovered during excavations to hold hidden treasures and artifacts. One of the findings made by archaeologists was the Hallstatt Knife. It was believed to be the earliest folding knife in history.
The knife looks very much like the ones made today. Notably, it has patterns similar to a Hawksbill and a bone handle as well as a metal bolster. This type of knife can be traced to about 2,600 years back, and it’s believed to have been commonly used by the people in that era.
However, archaeologists don’t believe it was the first folding knife. They looked pretty sophisticated and certainly not the first of their type. Nonetheless, it’s agreed that it is the first-ever to be found on record.
Case Cutlery became interesting and popular among collectors in the 70s. This explains why the company decided to make its brand not only a great-to-use knife but also one of the most sought-after collectibles.
For decades, case knives have gone through several ownership changes. Due to economic reasons, Case pocket knives were produced in huge quantities from 1980 to 1987. This set of blades had quality issues like looser blades, open back springs, lower-end slabs, etc.
When Jim Parker leveraged his assets to purchase the W.R. Case Cutlery Company in the late 1980s, a new era began. To help the company out of its financial binds, Jim created an endless supply of variants and collector sets. There were 100 knives, all made of bone, stag, or a combination of both and goldstone composite.
Most of the knives were nice, and Jim added several patterns to the catalog. Many of the samples of goldstone would suffer from curling. However, the brand-new (Parker Cutlery) designs only came to light during Jim’s brief ownership of Case. Having owned them for only a short period, he was forced to declare bankruptcy.
A new attempt was made in the early 1990s to bring the Case XX brand back to a high-quality but affordable value. A few other changes were made, including removing the dot dating system. Except for a quality improvement, they reverted to the build that made Case knives popular.
There’s also a significant special run of knives created by Jim Parker using Case family trademarks that he maintained following the sale of the company. As a result, tens of thousands of Case Classics were created and manufactured, most of which were produced by Queen Cutlery under contract with Bluegrass Cutlery.
The company launched the Limited Edition series in 1995, and this series is still going strong today. However, Case Cutlery‘s quality took a significant dip in the early 2000s. The width of the blades experienced a reduction on several models, and the edge grind looked like it had been subject to a stone grinder for several years.
Most patterns have extremely high cuts and jagged lines. In the mid-20s, a renewed effort was being made to restore the high quality that had made the W.R. Case name well-known. As a result, recent pattern releases have been priced higher than previous releases.
Nevertheless, quality appears to be very stable, especially since 2007. The blades have been tightened, the back springs have been closed, and the grinds have been corrected. Currently, Case Cutlery is producing a high-quality knife at a relatively reasonable price.
The Top 3 Most Valuable and Rare Old Case Knives
Before we go into plenty of detail, here are the three most valuable and unique case knives existing today:
1. The Most Valuable Case Knife — The Gem of the Orient
A product of Buster Warenski; an American custom knife-maker from Kimberley, Nevada; comprises 153 emeralds, 9 diamonds, and gold; currently valued at $2.1 million.
2. The Most Unique Case Knife — Nesmuk Jahrhundert Messer
A product of the Germany-based knife master, Nesmuk — makers of highly-priced kitchen knives; one of the rarest models; made with premium-grade carbon steel; its wooden handle comes from 5,000-year-old strong bog oak; currently priced at $98,000; sports a platinum collar studded with around 25 diamonds.
3. The Case Knife With the Best Handle — Nesmuk Diamond Studded Knife
Another Nesmuk knife made from materials that have been around for over 3,500 years; its blade is coated with either titanium or Teflon; the blade itself is made of carbon steel; sports a handle featuring sterling silver and 8 diamonds.
The Top 10 Most Valuable Case Knives
Your everyday kitchen knives may cost just a few bucks; however, in this review, we’ll look at the ones that have become highly-priced. They’re not everyday kitchen knives and have become a collector’s item because of their value. These case knives are highly-priced because of their rarity and the materials used in making them.
That said, here are the top 10 most valuable case knives today:
- The Gem of the Orient
- Nesmuk Jahrhundert Messer
- Nesmuk Diamond Studded Knife
- Spearpoint Lace Knife
- Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife
- Gentac Makara Knife
- Black Panther Knife
- Nenohi Honyaki Dentokougeishi Sakimaru Takobiki
- Lancet Ouroboros
- Yoshihiro Mizuyaki Honyaki
We considered numerous factors when selecting these case knives, as we’ll observe in a bit.
1. The Gem of the Orient
The Most Valuable Case Knife
- Made By: Buster Warenski
- Price: $2.1 million
- Properties: 153 emeralds, 9 diamonds, and gold karats
Buster Warenski of Nevada, USA, created the Gem of the Orient, which is now the most costly dagger globally due to the numerous valuable jewels it’s encrusted with. Featuring 153 emeralds and nine diamonds, as well as a jade handle embellished with gold filigree, this knife will have you in doubt until you behold it. Ten years and $2.1 million later, the piece of art sold at auction for an incredible sum.
The Most Unique Case Knife
- Made By: Nesmuk
- Price: $100,000
- Properties: 640 layers of Damascus steel, 25 diamond and platinum, 5,000-year-old bog wood handle
The Jahrhundert Messer, an eye-catching Nesmuk design, is the world’s most costly kitchen knife, with a Lars Scheidler-forged blade. It carries 640 layers of Damascus steel with a carbon steel edge. Moreover, the 5,000-year-old bog wood handle is adorned with platinum and 25 diamonds, so it’s only natural that the price of this magnificent knife is about $100,000. Truly, it’s a sight to behold.
The Case Knife With the Best Handle
- Made By: Hoffman and Quintin Nel
- Price: $40,000
- Properties: Carbon steel blade, Teflon and titanium, sterling silver, and 8 diamonds
Hoffman/Pieper and Quintin Nel created this magnificent knife with a sterling silver handle and a carbon steel blade, claiming it to be the sharpest in the world. This knife features eight diamonds placed on the handle to make it both elegant and functional.
Titanium and Teflon were used to coat the blade, which resulted in an extremely long-lasting and sharp blade. The knife, which retails for over $40,000, comes packaged in a lovely piano box with a diamond ring, making it a perfect gift for both him and her.
- Made By: William Henry
- Price: $25,000
- Properties: Damascus steel, 24-carat gold
Designed by William Henry, the blade of this knife is made of ‘Boomerang’ Damascus steel, which has a ‘lace’ pattern that lends it its name. Due to the little engravings being done by hand, the price of this beauty is a bit on the high side. It’s valued at $25,000, and the knife is unique with its 24-carat gold design.
Described as “a timeless keepsake to be proudly worn and utilized for a lifetime before handing it down to another generation,” it’s “the hallmark of William Henry’s most exclusive designs.”
- Made By: William Henry, Mark Hoescht, and Mike Norris
- Price: $18,000
- Properties: Damascus Steel, 24-carat gold, copper
William Henry, Mike Norris, and Mark Hoescht worked together to create this incredible knife, which they describe as having an “immersive and delicate balance between usefulness, elegance, and superb creativity.”
Sculptural embellishments carved with copper inlays and 24-carat gold make it appear rather intricate. As with the handle, this knife’s blade is manufactured by hand from Damascus steel and costs $18,500 because it’s a unique piece.
- Made By: William Henry
- Price: $12,500
- Properties: Damascus steel, 24-carat gold, walnut wood handle, and gems
This case knife is a hand-forged Hornets Nest Damascus blade with a one-hand button lock, like the Ouroboros. It was also manufactured by William Henry and featured a stunning blade.
This case knife has a beautiful handle with 24-carat gold inlays depicting a water dragon, as well as a stunningly decorated blade. The handle is walnut wood and precious gemstones, making it even more impressive. More importantly, this piece of art costs a whopping $12,500.
- Made By: Black Panther
- Price: $8,150
- Properties: Damascus steel, silver and gold coating, walnut wood
Even though it looks like a hunting knife, the ornate details on this beauty elevate it to the status of a decorative object. It retails for an impressive $8,150 in high-end boutiques.
The blade is constructed of Damascus steel, and the handle has a sculpture of a panther head on walnut wood. There are gemstones adorning the handle, and the sheath is constructed of walnut and silver with a gold coating. Some of the blade’s gold and silver sections include needle carvings for added intrigue.
- Made By: Yoshikazu Ikeda
- Price: $6,980
- Properties:4 inches blade, white steel, Corian handle
As you might expect from a knife with such an extensive name, the blade is quite long, and at 15.4 inches, you might almost call it a sword. It’s a Yoshikazu Ikeda white steel knife with a Corian handle that’s a typical Japanese design.
Using the Wajima Lacquer process, the sheath was hand-painted, and the cover was additionally sheathed with cherry blossoms, one of Japan’s most recognizable symbols. One of these beauties costs $6,980.
- Made By: William Henry, Mike Norris and Jake Newell
- Price: $5,000
- Properties: Damascus steel, 24-carat gold, copper
Hand-engraved with 24-carat gold and copper inlays, this magnificent knife was introduced by William Henry in the style of a medieval dragon with three heads that eats its tail. Jake Newell carved the inlays while Mike Norris hand forged the Damascus steel blade.
An elegant hardwood gift box and a customized leather carrying case accompany the one-handed button lock. This knife has an astonishing retail value of $5,500.
- Made By: Yoshihiro
- Price: $5,000
- Properties: Ornamental motifs, razor-sharp blade
This beautiful slicing knife—made in Japan by the Yoshihiro knife makers of Sakai—includes magnificent ornamental motifs inspired by the mythical bird of this region, the phoenix. With a price tag of $5,000, this slicing knife boasts a razor-sharp blade designed for slicing, particularly fish, into sashimi.
An ancient lacquering process known as Fuki Urushi helped enhance the wood grain’s natural beauty while also strengthening its endurance. For more than 9,000 years, this approach has been used to decorate objects, and it’s still in use today because of its effectiveness. In the full moonlight, the shape of Fuji Mountain may be seen on the blade’s wave pattern.
A Buyer’s Guide on the Most Valuable Case Knives
The company W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery is the maker of Case knives. Incredibly popular in the late 1800s, this brand is known for its wide variety of pocket blade knives, fixed blade knives, and kitchen knives. Collectors have always been enamored by these blades, so what makes the Case knives special?
Why Are Case Knives Valuable, and Should You Get Them?
Case knives are highly functional tools and have been popular for decades. It’s the reason why many collectors have their eyes on these knives. Besides the fact that Case knives have been here for a long time now, the family brand also is known for their Kinfolks vintage knife collection.
Case knives are expensive because of their unique craft, which is rare. This brand has made a good reputation over the years, and its value will continue to increase with time.
What to Consider When Buying the Rarest Case Knife
Let’s look at a few reasons why people collect valuable case knives.
Due to their unique craftsmanship, Case Knives are among the most sought-after knives globally. That’s because any of the knives that leave the workshop have been meticulously crafted.
Also, a lot has been put into its design, including precious stones and mother-of-pearl, bone and buffalo horn, etc., which are just a few of the materials used to make the handles. Case makes most of its blades from stainless steel and chromium-vanadium. These materials are harder-to-find and are one of a kind.
Case knives are designed to last a long time and can be passed down from generation to generation. It’s designed for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, and these knives are sure to serve them well for many years. Despite years of use, the knife maintains its quality.
It takes more than 150 steps to make a single Case knife. They don’t miss out on details to give you a perfect finished product. In other words, W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company ensures quality control to avoid manufacturing errors.
Case Knife Identification and Value: How to Know the Genuine Ones
For the most part, case knives are known for being collector’s items. The uniqueness of these knives comes from the fact that each blade is stamped with a unique serial number by the manufacturer. You can ascertain the date of the knife’s production using this marking.
To better understand why case knives are so distinctive, we’ll look into how to identify and value case knives.
Identify With Serial Number
The first thing you need to know is how to find the serial number on a Case knife. Each Case knife comes with a unique serial number, and this number is the only way to identify the knife. You can find them directly on the blade of a case knife.
You may identify the handle of a Case knife by referring to the type of material used to make its handle. There are fifteen distinct materials used to construct the Case knife handles. Some of them include solid hardwood, thermoplastic, smooth yellow synthetic, smooth synthetic, etc.
Generally speaking, Case pocket knives feature two to four blades. However, this depends on the type of knife you’re collecting and its use.
If you look closely at your case knife, you’ll see its factory pattern. Case knives typically come with a two-digit factory pattern, although later versions feature three-digit factory patterns, which are more commonly seen. You should look out for this pattern when you get this blade type.
Another way to tell a genuine Case knife from a fake one is via the logo on the W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company-manufactured collectible knives. This can be the Long Tail “C” found on the knife. Collectors’ knives authorized by the Case corporation feature also have a bronze-colored emblem on the blades.
Identifying the Year
You can determine the year a case knife was made by examining the handle’s silver metal trademark. Different decades have varying systems of dating, as we’ll observe below:
- The 1970s: You can identify this type with its sans serif font. It’s in the dots series. The knives made in1970 had ten dots, with each dot eliminated every year.
- The 1980s: Similar to the knives of the 70s, the only exception was it had an “S” that looked like a thunderbolt.
- 1990–1993: During this time, Case knives had the actual date of manufacture inscribed on it.
- 1993-1999: They introduced the dot dating system again with these blades. However, the knives had the company logo with the long tail C signature.
- The 2000s: This era had the models with Five X’s and dots added. Also, each year saw the removal of one dot between the years 2000 to 2005. However, they removed one X yearly between the years 2006 and 2009.
- The 2010s: The Case knives have the same dating system as in the 2000s.
What are the pre-1970 Case knives?
Case knives weren’t made pre-1970s but after. William Russell (W.R.) and the Case Brothers (Jean, John, and Andrew) started selling their handcrafted knives in New York. You can identify the earliest models with the 10 dots, and the logo was written in sans serif font.
What’s the most valuable case knife?
The most valuable case knife—and most expensive knife—you can find today is the Gem of Orient, worth $2.1 million. It was made in 2005 by Buster Warenski.
The knife has 153 emeralds, 10 karats, and 9 diamonds. The elegance of the Gem of Orient is unbeatable, holding a value that has made it the most expensive of the rarest case knives.
How do I know old case knives’ value?
You can get the value of an old Case knife by tracing its year of manufacture. Also, an expert or collector can date the Case knives. However, the newer models are usually more expensive than the older Case knives.
Where can I get Case collectible knives?
Many collectors have given credence to Case Knives over the years. It’s a widely respected brand and revered among knife enthusiasts. Case knives may be one of the most collected knife brands ever, and you can find them at collectors shops, online stores like Amazon, eBay, etc.
Do unique case knives models exist?
Case knives are unique in their design as it’s going through over 150 manufacturing processes. The style of the knives is unique, so they’ve remained popular over the years. The 10 dot models of the 70s and the XX are among the special Case knives sold today.
The tradition of collecting Case knives predates the company. Case knives have a rich and deep history of making knives for over 125 years. There are benefits to carrying a Case knife, and it feels good having a piece of history in your pocket.
If you care for Case knives well enough, they can last for a long time. Moreover, if you’re looking for a valuable pocket knife, Case knives are an excellent place to start.