Hello, my name is James Christian and I have been collecting Swiss Army Knives for several years. I collect both Victorinox and Wenger brands and both vintage and contemporary models. I prefer Officer’s knives with traditional red cellidor handles. Enjoy touring my web site and please sign the visitor’s log on the “Interactive” page.
My infatuation with Swiss Army Knives started in the mid ‘70s when I was just a teen. I remember vividly being with my father, whom has now passed on, in a small independently owned department store called “Cheds” in a southern West Virginia town known as Princeton. This town was one of the few larger cities in Southern West Virginia near my home town of Mullens. Little did I know that one seemingly ordinary day would hold so many vivid and special memories and feelings for me that would last the rest of my life.
That day is so special because that is one distinct moment in time that I can remember in great detail the innocence of still being a kid, the excitement of getting a new “toy” and being with my Dad. Yet I was also beginning to feel a special camaraderie that I now so dearly miss with my father. I got much closer with my father from that age on partly because I think he could appreciate me as a young man instead of just thinking of me as a kid. I really look forward with mixed emotions about that time yet to come in my life with my son... I will miss his innocence but will welcome his maturity and the relationship with me that it will bring.
I remember being excited about actually buying and owning an “Original Swiss Army Knife” instead of the couple of cheap imitations that I previously had owned. I remember being overwhelmed by what seemed like countless choices before me in that full line of Victorinox knives. I remember logically trying to balance really wanting the largest knife there with the practicality of carrying a smaller one and amount of allowance I had saved and that was in my wallet that day.
The best and most special part of the day was I remember my Dad helping me weigh the issues... WE decided together that the Explorer was the best buy and the perfect knife for me... It had enough blades and girth not to be considered “wimpy” and enough tools to be thought of as adventurous, hence the name. The price was fair and affordable to me and didn’t cost the twenty extra dollars or so it would have cost to get the flagship of the Victorinox line at that time, the Champion. As I recall, that Explorer cost about what they do today; I think it was around $32.
I have since bought a Champion or two, like the one I wanted so badly that day, and even a couple of SwissChamps since pliers came out in 1986. But that first Explorer had my Dad’s “stamp of approval” and it will always be my most treasured Swiss Army Knife. I used it gently for years always taking proper precautions not to abuse it and always trying not to scratch the handles when I carried it. I guess that was the beginnings of the condition that my wife now kids me about having... Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! But, I still take care of all my SAKs both new or vintage models and I always will.
One last thing I would like to share is that I have already started my son, who was born in 1998, on the road to collecting SAKs and I hope this hobby will be a family tradition for generations to come. I bought him a large Victorinox plastic toy knife in 2003 at The Smoky Mountain Knifeworks in Tennessee where I have purchased a few of my own SAKs over the years. When we returned for Thanksgiving in 2005, I bought him a “My First Victorinox” two blade model... Even though it had a blunt-tipped spear blade, I felt he was not ready for a sharp cutting edge so before I handed it over to him I dulled the blade with the file on my SwissChamp. I now have given him a few duplicate models to some of my own SAKs. They include a Classic, a Soldier with his birth year of 98 stamped on the tang, a Cadet, a Signature Lite II, and a SwissChamp. Update: My son isn’t quite that interested in SAKs anymore but I’m holding out hope that he will someday take over my enthusiasm!