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12/25/2009

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone a peaceful holiday, and best wishes for the coming New Year.

11/28/2009

New Tally - 115

Was able to score a very old school LUM stamped dagger off Ebay. I really like his older pieces.

11/21/2009

New Tally - 114

The Extra Small Ti Chinese Folder, and the Extra Small Ti Folding Stalker are both gone.

11/20/2009

New Tally -116

The following folders are gone:

Chinese Slip-Joint w/Jigged bone
Deluxe Chinese with Damascus blade and Oosic scales
Black Micarta All-Rounder
Black Micarta Folding Stalker with Thumb Ramp

11/16/2009

Copy Update

Update: After speaking to the customer and the maker, both have agreed to acknowledge Bob as the influence, and will not make any further examples of the folders. I applaud their taking responsibility, even though it was strictly unintentional.

I encourage any maker to continue with the Chinese Folder design, as long as the design is significantly unique. The Chinese Folder has a strong following among knife collectors, and has proven to be a popular design because of it's versatility as a folding knife.

Design Influence

Recently, on one of the popular knife forums, there was an instance of someone asking another knifemaker to make his rendition of Bob's Chinese Folder. When the pictures were posted, the end results were too similar to Bob's design that a debate arouse about what is original, and what would constitute a copy. The age old argument that Bob did not invent the design surfaced again. As was the case when Bob introduced the tanto design, he never claimed to have invented the Chinese Folder design, so that accusation is invalid. What he did was based his design on the original, and came up with his own version.

The original design, called the Shi Lin in Chinese, is an ancient design. It was a slip joint with narrow neck and rounded handles. What Bob did was to update the design to modern lines, and added his own design elements. These included a liner lock, a different pivot geometry, and a new curved handle treatment. An additional design element was the use of the licensed Spyderco Hole to help with one hand opening.

The success of the production Spyderco Chinese Folder is what brought the design to the mainstream knife public. Since then, several makers have offered their own interpretation of a Chinese Folder. I've attached two below; the Whaleshark as designed by Johnny Liao and made by Warren Thomas, and the Chinese Friction Folder by my friend Belgian knifemaker Filip Deeuw.



There was a slight rumbling when Warren Thomas's version was made public. Even more when Microtech decided to issue a production version. But Bob's reaction was that, while the Whaleshark was piggy backing off the success of his Chinese Folder, the design was unique enough that it wasn't a "copy" as suggested. The same argument can be said for Filip's version. As well as a fixed blade version that is currently in the works by Tom Krein.

However, the version in question in the first paragraph, had too many similarities, and not enough unique features. The lines of the folder were near identical, down to the blade's grind lines. The argument offered for making these folders were:

1) Bob is no longer available to make Chinese Folders.

2) The maker came to the final design by extrapolating from the Spyderco version, and is unique because it did not include the Spyderco hole and is bolstered.

3) The maker only did this as a request from a customer.

All three arguments are valid. Bob has passed away, and can no longer make his folders. The maker did design the knife himself and the end result was very different from the Spyderco version. But all three arguments did not address the major issue of design copying. Singularly: that this version of the Chinese Folder design is still under the ownership of Bob's estate, with the present owner being Bob's widow, Jean Lum. Also, the Spyderco Chinese Folder was issued a design patent by the US Patent Office (Patent #434,631) to guard against being copied by competitors.

Which brings me to where I see are the main issues to avoid, so this won't happen again.

A) A maker's design protection does not expire when he passes away. Especially if there is valid copyright protection available. It does not become "public domain".

B) Knifemakers should be responsible when charged with making another maker's design. They should at the very least, discuss the order with the original maker. And at the very minimum, do a little research prior to coming up with a final design. In this day and age of internet sharing, it would not be too difficult to see what other versions of Bob's Chinese Folders exist. To think that Bob only did the Spyderco version is a very limited assumption.

C) When the final design is too similar, it really should be re-done so that a new and unique design is the end result. This will bolster the argument that the design was not a copy, if/when the accusations are made.

D) Even if the design is unique, if Bob's Chinese Folder was the inspiration, then an effort to acknowledge that would be a sign of respect for Bob's work.

The Custom Knifemaking world is fairly small, and many of the collectors can be very protective of their favorite maker's designs. Because, ultimately, it does infringe on a maker's livelihood. Proper attribution and research can easily avoid the drama and accusation of "copying". There is enough copying going on by overseas companies, that it's hard enough to be successful for makers to infringe on each other.

Comments are welcome.

11/09/2009

For Lum Collectors

I'm offering two new items with this post.

1) A new blog to help collectors of Bob Lum's work to buy, sell, and trade his knives. It's still a work in progress, but I hope it'll help succeed in it's mission.

2) A new item to show support of this blog: a collector's embroidered patch. The design is a variation of my LumNut avatar, and reflects the purpose of this blog.

Both are available here: http://lumknivesmarket.blogspot.com

11/03/2009

New Tally - 120

Four folders are gone.

Large Folding Stalker with Black Micarta
Large Ti Folding Tanto
Medium Ti Chinese Folder
Ti Folding Skinner

11/02/2009

New Benchmade Folding Tanto

Benchmade released a version of the Lum Folding Tanto II for 2009. The model is 760BK LFTi. This is a Benchmade branded variation of the Blackwater Folding Tanto.





When I obtain one of the Blackwater versions, I'll post a comparison.

New Spyderco Chinese

Spyderco released a new version of the Lum Chinese Folder in June of 2009. Here are the latest versions in Foliage Green. They came in two configurations with VG-10 blade steel; Plain blade, model C65FGP; Black blade, C65FGPBK. Total run is 600 units each.






10/30/2009

Lum On Ebay

The Lum in question in my previous post has sold on Ebay. If the buyer is a reader of his blog, I would appreciate it if they could send me a picture of the engraved initials "B.L.", and a clean picture of the tip if possible. I'm still not sure it's one of Bob's work, but it does have many traits that would make it one.

10/24/2009

Real or Fake?

There is a knife being sold on a well known auction website currently, and I've gotten a few emails asking about it's authenticity. Based on the pictures posted in the auction, I can't for certain say it is a Lum custom.

Which begs the question: how can you tell?

For starters, Bob always signed his work. Prior to the famous "Chop" logo, he would stamp the letters LUM on the ricasso of the blade. See the picture of the two ivory tantos by Jim Cooper for an example. There are exceptions. I have one knife he has authenticated to be his where he signed the knife with his Chinese Lum character on the brass pin, but this was one of his earliest work.

Then there is his hand-rubbed satin finish. One of his signatures. It's very easy to spot the Lum finish once you've seen it before.

His grind lines. As mentioned before, Bob is considered by many knifemakers to be one of the best grinders in the business. His grind lines are always clean and symmetrical. The best way to describe it is "crispness", the lines are well defined and lacks a sense of "softness". Some of his grinds are easy to spot; the diamond tip on his daggers in an earlier post; the Hamagiri (appleseed) grind of his tanto tips. Others are not as easy. But generally, for his fixed blades, most of them will have tapered tangs.

The "Lum Style". This is harder to explain, much less describe. Bob had a very specific eye for lines. A trait that came from his skills as a photographer. With the grind lines, there is always a sense of flow with his blades. All the lines should just seems to tie in together.

Finally, the balance. Unfortunately, this can only be ascertained with the knife in hand. Bob had a way of making his knives balanced regardless of size.

So, based on the above, the following is what stops me from asserting that the knife is a Lum.
  • No signature
  • The grind lacks that crispness
  • The blade's flat treatment is atypical of Bob's style
  • The tip is atypical of Bob's tanto grinds
I'm hoping that we won't have too many examples of fake Lums on the market, as his work is not easy to duplicate. But with the prices of his knives at their current status, it's something we need to be wary of.

10/12/2009

Aftermark Pricing

I've gotten a few emails asking me about the current aftermarket prices for Bob's knives. To be honest, it's hard to explain the Custom Knife market prices. Just before Bob was diagnosed with his illness, the prices for his knives in the aftermarket climbed tremendously. People were willing to pay a very high premium for his knives, if they were not able to buy one from him directly. At the time, it was simply a matter of low supply to high demand. The prices climbed a bit more once his illness was made public, when there was a further increase in demand for his knives. Since Bob's passing, they seem to have maintained the same level as just prior to his illness being made public.

But not all of his pieces are selling at the same level of premium. There is currently a distinct advantage in prices for his folders over his fixed blades; and even more with his later models.

The ultimate price for any of Bob's pieces will be determined by the market. It will be set by the buyer's willingness to pay for that piece. So, there is no specific formula to use to help calculate a current price/value. Capitalism at it's best.

My wish is that the aftermarket prices at least maintain some level of a premium over his original asking price. This way, at least there's a tangible means of showing Bob our "appreciation" of his art.

10/07/2009

Wallpaper Version 2

Version 2 completed. Format is now 16:9, perfect for my iMac.


Same link as before.

10/06/2009

Lums on Leather Wallpaper

Created a high resolution collage of the "Lum on Leather" pictures and uploaded it to Picasa. It's in a 4X6 format.





The link is here. To get the full resolution image, you will need to download it. Size is 2.3MB.

9/26/2009

New Tally -124

Small Upswept Skinner sold.

9/22/2009

New Tally - 125

Carbon Fiber Slipjoint traded....

9/18/2009

New Tally - 126

Ti Folding Dagger has found a new home.

9/15/2009

New Tally

The result is the same, at 127, but the the smallest Stag Tanto with guard was traded for a Lum Hunter with Ivory Micarta scales, and another knife not made by Bob.

The culling's begun!!!

9/14/2009

Culling the Herd

Since it was alway my intention to keep my collection at 100, I will be selling off any excess from my collection. Not quite decided on which ones, or how and where to sell them. Which currently means I'll be selling off 27 from the collection in the near future.

Once I get to 100, the procedure will be to sell off one if I purchase another. Ideally I would like it to be fifty folders and fifty fixed blades, but we'll see how that goes.

9/10/2009

Tally

So, based on the picures posted, we have:

42 Folders
83 Fixed Blades

For a total of 125.

Missing from the photo series are two more knives; a Fixed Chinese in Stag and a Large All-Rounder in Carbon Fiber.

Blade Blanks

Twenty-third in the series: two blade blanks. The Tanto was a template meant for Timberlines knives. While the Grandmaster Darn Dao was my second custom Lum. It's made with L6 steel and was extremely rust prone, so I sent it back to Bob for a refit. Unfortunately, it sat in his shop for years and was never completed. Normally Bob would never have a knife leave his shop unless the knife was completed, so this is a very rare item.


First Ever Lum

Twenty-second in the series: My first Custom Lum, a Large Field Grade Stalker.


Deluxe Stag Tantos

Twentieth and twenty-first in the series: ten Deluxe Tanto in Stag.



Deluxe Tantos

Sixteenth through Nineteenth in the series: fourteen Deluxe Tanto in various sizes and shapes.





Temple Guards

Fifteenth in the series: three Temple Guards. A special model made for Northwest Knives.

Field Grade Tantos

Fourteenth in the series: three Field Grade Tantos.

Field Grade Fighters

Eleventh through thirteenth in the series: 10 Field Grade Fighters






Large Deluxe Fighters

Tenth in the series: three Large Deluxe Fighters.

Deluxe Chinese Fighters

Ninth in the series: three Deluxe Chinese Fighters


Darn Dao's

Eight in the series: four Darn Dao's.

Utility Blades

Sixth and seventh in the series: seven Fixed Utility Blades.


Deluxe Fighters

Fifth in the series: five Deluxe Fighters.

Stag Fighters

Fourth in the series: three Fighters in stag.

Deluxe Hunters

Second and third in the series: eight Deluxe Hunters.




Daggers


And now, the Fixed Blades.

First in the series: six daggers. Technically four daggers, as the two small ones are singled edged.

9/08/2009

Tanto II's


Sixth, and last, of the Folder Series: the three Folding Tanto II's.

Folding Tanto's


Fifth in the Folder Series: the six Folding Tanto's.

Utility Folders


Fourth in the Folder Series: the nine Utility Folders.

Tactical Folders


Third in the Folder Series: the seven Tactical Folders in my collection.

Gents Folders


Second in the Folders Series: the seven Gents Folders.

9/07/2009

Collection

I've received a few emails asking if I do indeed own 100 of Bob Lum's custom knives. I figure the best way to answer is to just put them up and then follow up with the series. Using my current photobox setup, I'm titling this series "Lums on Black Leather", and every knife photographed is currently owned by me, in my possession, and is made by Bob Lum.

First photo is the ten Chinese Folders I currently own:

8/12/2009

Lum Knife Pictures Wanted

As part of the new focus for this blog, if you have a knife from Bob, I would very much appreciate it if you would email me some pictures. The intent is to make this blog the ultimate reference library for Bob's work. I hope that on top of my collection, we can gather in one place, as much of his work as possible. Please let me know as much information as you can when you send in the picture (date of purchase, directly from Bob, which knife show, etc.), and please include your name for proper credit. Thank you.

My email is: twangnyc@aol.com.

8/06/2009

Hiatus Is Over

My apologies for neglecting this blog. Had some very serious personal issues, as a direct result from Bob's passing, that had me rethink what to do with the blog, and if I really wanted to continue. The conclusion I came to, was that I will not let those issues affect my friendship with Bob, and they do not diminish his excellent body of work.

New updates will be forthcoming on a regular basis.

Thank you for all your support.