by Larry Connelley
According to U.S. law, imported products must be marked properly with their country of origin - in our instance, knives. What is troublesome is when unscrupulous knife companies and knifemakers don't follow these procedures, which can mean that the unmarked knife you're purchasing might actually be made overseas, even if the knifemaker is based in the U.S. or another country. For products entering the USA, customs provides an outline of the requirements for knives made in China or another country. Marking Requirements from US Customs.
Proper Country of Origin Marking -
The most basic requirement required by all goods imported to the U.S., including knives, is marking that tells the ultimate purchaser (such as the consumer, or even the gift receiver) where the item was made. For example, the "Made in China" or "China" mark should be "legible and permanent enough for the ultimate purchaser to be made aware of the goods origin." A legible, visible and marked permanently enough, so that it could not be removed or renamed before the time the purchaser receives the item.
Removing the sticker and the country of origin...
Some sellers do not follow these procedures on purpose, sadly selling these imported products without country of origin on the product. Often times items manufactured from China, are shipped with a simple origin sticker label on them. Imported knife retailers can remove that sticker and sell the product without telling buyers the real country of origin. We find this practice unethical and willfully damaging to both the American knife industry and the knife buying public.
Material Verification Concerns -
In addition, tracking the source for materials (like high-end specialty knife steels, titanium grades, or other costly materials) from overseas companies is a lot harder to do compared to US manufacturers. In the U.S., supply chains are better documented and misrepresentation can be enforced with legal action. With no easy way to authenticate the types of steel, type/grade of metal, grade of handle materials etc. that goes into the knife, buyers could actually end up purchasing a cheaper knife than they believe, investing over $100, $400, or even $1000 for an item that won't hold up to their needs or expectations.
Repair Concern -
Repairs for a knife made in China (or missing country of origin) may be next to impossible because shipping a knife to China is highly restricted by their government. It can be a bitter pill to swallow that your $500 knife (with 'Made in China' sticker removed) is nearly unrepairable...
Secondary Market -
Another issue, arises when the unmarked knife is sold on the secondary market for the entire life of the item. The buyers and sellers of the unmarked item can become completely separated from the manufacturer country of origin.
If it is 'Made in USA' - mark it!
In the same vein, American manufacturers should (but not required by law) absolutely mark their products "Made in the U.S.A," or "American Made" if applicable. This is especially important when knives are to be exported outside the country. These rules are important to follow, especially for U.S. businesses who want to help protect their knives from counterfeiting and protect the integrity of their brand. Having American-made products clearly marked can provide the added NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) benefits when shipping to Mexico or Canada. Also, having an American product properly marked will help with custom fees if the item is ever returned back to the USA. For more detailed information on 'Made in USA' marking standards and requirements.
Final Thoughts -
All of this being said, country of origin alone does not directly effect the underlying quality of a knife. Origin is a buying factor that should be considered, some people find it to be a bigger factor than others. It is our position, that high-end items should be sold in a transparent, fact-based manner without subterfuge so the buyer can make an informed decision.
Knife buyers should be careful when buying knives, especially online. To ensure the authenticity of your knife, make sure you are purchasing from a company that can validate where their products come from, including where the item itself is made. Be cautious when dealing with knife companies that don't list a country of origin on an imported product, or make it unclear where they are physically located.
Here at KnifeArt.com, you can rest assured that a knife from our website is legitimate, sourced directly from the manufacturer or custom maker as an authorized dealer.
(for related reading, take a look at American Knife and Tool Institute's article on knife counterfeiting problem.)
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