Those of us who are passionate about knives may need to think twice before giving knives as presents for the holidays, or any other occasion. We appreciate getting a custom one-off blade from a favorite knifemaker, but is there something we need to know before gifting a knife?
Where Did It All Start?
The practice of giving a coin in exchange for a knife is a common tradition. Or perhaps superstition. This is true in many countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. I contacted several well-known individuals in the knife community from various countries for their input. This tradition may be more superstition or folklore than it is a cultural custom or tradition. Most knife enthusiasts today are unaware of this “superstitious act.” The exact origins are unknown, but are similar for many countries.
At What Cost?
In Eastern Europe, when you receive a knife, you should give the person a coin. If you don’t, according to superstition, you will cut yourself with the knife. In Argentina and other parts of South America, if you give somebody a knife, you should receive a coin. In the U.K., elders say if you receive a knife as a gift, you must give a piece of silver straight away or you will cut the bond between the persons involved. Many people in the U.K. practice this today with a coin instead of silver. In Belgium, the receiver of a knife must give a coin in return or the friendship is considered severed.
Other countries have different takes on knives as presents. In Scandinavia, the gift of a knife is considered a gift of life and an honor. Nothing is required in return. However, in Japan, one puts a coin on the blade of the knife to indicate it’s a present. With no coin it indicates that the recipient should take his or her own life. Yikes!
Here in the U.S., families often give knives as presents to their children. It could be a Boy Scout who has earned the rank of Eagle Scout or a young hunter who harvested a first deer. I personally have given away many knives to family and friends over the years and I often do knife giveaways. But, I have never received a coin or experienced a severed relationship.
Today, some knifemakers the world-over still include a coin with a knife. If you are going to give a knife as a gift to someone who you know is superstitious or who recognizes a particular cultural tradition, then consider having a coin close by when sharing your present.
By: Bobby Bushcraft
You can read our original post about giving knives as gifts here. Bobby hit us up with even more information. When do you give knives as presents, and do you expect anything in return? Let us know in the comments!