souvenir – noun – a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.
I struggled to find a term for these knives. Cheap hand made knives is right out because the word cheap gives the impression of low quality. Trade knives is likely the most historically accurate. The trade knives of US history were those produced for the specific purpose of trading to Native Americans for furs and other goods. I decided against the term because due to its historic use, the term trade knives tends to evoke a classic image. Typically the image of a rustic finish, pinned slabs of natural wood, n no guard or pommel. What I now call souvenir knives, does not fit that category. In fact, they do not fit into the a category of what most blade smiths offer. This is because I am much different than most blade smiths.
I am a performing blade smith. The performing blade smith is few and far between. Yes, I produce knives with much better fit and finish. But knives produced during demonstrations come with many limits that my more refined blades do not.
Forge welded Damascus is the best example. Using flux and a hammer in front of unsuspecting patrons is a recipe for disaster. In a closed class setting where participants each have on safety glasses, old clothing, and sign releases sure. But when folk wander in randomly, risking sticky miniature fireballs of doom is a very bad idea.
Entertainment is another consideration. Watching a blade smith use a needle file to cut a tang hole is boring. So is watching hand sanding for hours or an acid soak.
Financial consideration. While I am a performing blade smith, I am not often paid for my performances. My tip jar does not often see enough gratuity to keep me in bier. Ironic as working with fire, I am much more entertaining when I drink. Souvenir knives are how my performances are paid.
Unless selling at a knife show, most people who wander past my offerings have no desire to purchase a knife whose creator invested much time into creating. However, they often do want a moment to remember the experience. Hence, the souvenir knife.
Although they start and hover at about $25.00, each is fully functional. Each is made from a quality steel and properly heat treated. Although they do not generally have features like pinned wood hilts, guards or pommels, they will hold an edge, give you something to remember your visit to my smithy, and will not drain your wallet much.
The final consideration is my soul. My souvenir knives often compete with some of the lowest price imported knives. Knives which fly apart with much use. Knives whose blades are tack welded to 1/4 inch tangs which are simply glued into a hilt. Many years ago I sold those imports. With a 400% mark up or more, it is great money. But selling them at away at my soul.
cheap – adjective – (of an item for sale) low in price; worth more than its cost.
Yes, in addition to knives of higher quality, I sell knives which are low in price and worth more than their value. Yes, in addition to knives of higher quality, I sell cheap hand made knives.