Knifemakers Guild Show 2009

Also see my review and photos in the April 2010 issue of Blade Magazine

The 2009 Knifemakers Guild Show moved to a great new venue at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky after an 8-year run in Orlando, Florida. The show was a great success. The 135 knifemaker tables sold out months in advance and we are planning to make room for more tables next year. Attendance and sales were good even in midst of a dismal economy. We had knifemakers from all over the United States, Canada, Italy, South Africa. Likewise, we had collectors who traveled from all over to attend the show. Being in a new area and in Kentucky for the first time, we also had a lot of newcomers to the world of custom handmade knives who were very impressed with what they saw.

As always, the Guild Show was an incredible array of outstanding handmade custom knives made by some of the best knifemakers in the world. They ran the gamut from everyday users to high-end art pieces embellished with precious gems and artwork.

Enjoy the photo review below and make your plans to attend in person September 17-19, 2010. I'm sure it will be an even bigger and better show.

I apologize for not posting these until January 2010 but I had submitted many of these photos to Blade Magazine. Since Blade wants first publication rights, I couldn't publish them until I knew what, if any, photos they were going to use.

Photos by Mike Carter and Edmund Davidson

The Seelbach Hilton hotel in downtown Louisville, built in 1905, is a newly renovated luxury hotel that exudes elegance. This hotel was frequented by
F. Scott Fitzgerald and was the inspiration and backdrop for "The Great Gatsby". The pool hall scenes for the movie "The Hustler" with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason were filmed here. This was also a favorite hangout for Al Capone who used the hotel's hidden secret doorways and passageways to escape when the cops came around.

Right outside the hotel is Louisville's "Fourth Street Live" entertainment district with restaurants, bars, and clubs. A few blocks away are the Ohio River waterfront, the Frazier International Arms Museum and the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat factory and museum. Everyone seemed to welcome the change of moving the Guild Show from Disney World and embraced all that Louisville has to offer.

On Thursday before the show begins, a panel of Guild members inspect the knives of applicants to Guild and those of probationary members hoping to gain full voting membership. I was included in the latter group.

Gayle Bradley takes a close look at an applicant's knife.

A fellow alumni of Gil Hibben's knifemaking class, Jerry Partridge passes one of his knives to Gayle Bradley and Kit Carson for inspection.

Thursday night was the "Presidents Gala for Honorary Members". This is an evening of food, drink and entertainment where Honorary Guild Members (collectors) can hang out with the knifemakers in a relaxed atmosphere and get to know them.

Edmund Davidson dresses for the occasion. I wish that guy would loosen up a little and not be such a wallflower.

Another benefit to Honorary Members is that they get fist shot at a select number of knives. Guild knifemakers can put one knife, traditionally their best work, on display with a posted price. Those wishing to buy the knife put their name in the box next to the knife. At a designated time, the knifemaker will draw a name from the box and that person get to purchase the knife.

Here, collectors are looking over some of the available knives.

Lowell Bray

A set of steak knives by Wayne Hensley

A very special folder by John W. PerMar

Cobra knife by Bill Johnson

Early Friday morning the Guild holds it's annual membership meeting prior to the show to conduct Guild business, elect officers and present some awards.

Guild President Gil Hibben presented Gene Basket with this year's "Red Watson Memorial Friendship Award" in recognition of his outstanding service to the Guild and knifemakers.

Some of the new 2009 probationary Guild members: Left to Right: Gordon Romeis, Will Dutton, Barbara Baskett, Marshall Hall, Jerry Johnson, Wes Hibben, Calvin Robinson.

Jerry Moen was the only 2nd-year Probationary Member who stuck around for the photos.

Some of the knifemakers who served their 2-year Probationary Membership and were granted full Voting Membership this year were: (Left to Right) John Davis, Jake Elenbaas, Ron Best, Paul LeBetard, Mike Carter (Me), and Steve Gatlin.


Everyone was greeted by Becky Hensley (pictured below) and Mary Bray when the checked in.

And then into the main room. We had a good crowd all weekend. Not packed, but good. I think now that word has gotten around about this year's show, next year will be much busier. We had 135 tables and plan to expand to 150 next year.

Knifemaker and past Guild President Frank Centofante died shortly before the show. They set up a nice memorial on his table and had a book for people to sign with their thoughts. The book was presented to Frank's wife Sue.

Now, on to the knifemakers and KNIVES!

Bill Luckett

Harry and Charlie Mathews

R.W. Wilson chats with a friend.

Warren Osborne shows a knife to a customer.

W.C. "Bill" Johnson

Scrimshaw artist Linda Karst-Stone shares a moment with husband Mark.

Larry Hoststler

Paul  LeBetard

Bud Nealy

It was good to see Scott Slobodian back at the show.

Rob Hudson

I didn't recognize A.T. Barr without his beard!

Bill Kennedy

W.D. Pease

Period pieces by Jim Miller

Dave Ricke

George Young

Ken Coats

Stephen Mackrill from South Africa

Warren Glover

Yours truly. Edmund snuck up behind me!

David Steier

Keith Bagley

Ken Linton

Robert Flynt

Ed Baumgardner

Canadian Sean O’Hare's knives didn't make it through customs so he had to make do with photographs.

Cliff Fendley

Wes Hibben from Alaska (Gil Hibben's son) brought some outstanding pieces including a bronze hilt sword.

One of my favorites, Ron Best, has started making folders in addition to his amazing integrals.

Jerry Partidge

Larry Pridgen

Herb Martin

Steve Gatlin

Zach Whitson

Gayle Bradley (sweeeet folders)

Riccardo Mainolfi from Italy doesn't speak English but his knives speak for themselves.

Herb Derr

Gene Baskett

One of Gene Baskett's knives with some amazing scrimshaw by Gary "Garbo" Williams.

Ted and Betty Dowell. Ted has been at every Guild show - all 40 of them!

Mary Bray made a special quilt and, along with Gil Hibben, presented it to the Dowells to commemorate their 40th Guild Show.

Charles Ochs

Another favorite of mine, Stan Wilson.

This gorgeous Stan Wilson folder has no visible pins or pivots. He completely disassembled and reassembled this knife right there on his table to show me how he did it. It is one amazing piece of engineering and craftsmanship.

Billy Mace Imel. This was the first time I met Billy. He and his wife Beverly are about as nice as they come and his knives are true works of art.

Paula Wallace held down the fort while Ed was away from the table.

Daniel Chinnock

Calvin Robinson

Kevin Casey

Jerry L. Johnson

Will Dutton

S.R. Jonhson. The definition of a class act.

Howard Clark

Gerald Corbit

Friday night Makers Mark distillery hosted a reception for the table holders in the Bavarian-style Rathskellar Room located in the basement of the Seelbach hotel. This place is neat and we had a fun evening hanging out together.

This part of the ceiling is hand tooled leather and the walls are adorned with rare Rookwood Pottery murals and figurines. It is the only surviving Rookwood pottery room in the world.

Rhett Stidham found a quiet moment as his display of knives needed no introduction.

Phillip Booth displayed several of his Hot Rod Knives as were recently featured on the cover of Blade Magazine. They were a popular attraction for the crowd.

Gail Lunn had an impressive array of exquisite folders as usual.

This jeweled beauty by Gail won the "Judges Choice Award".

Lowell Bray

Pat Crawford

Harvey King

Ernie Grospitch

Mike Yurco

Linda and Lee Ferguson

James Ragsdale

Harry Mathews

We start them out young.

We also had a nice selection of suppliers for knifemaking supplies on hand.

Admiral Steel

GRS engraving demonstrated their equipment.

Brad Vice of Alabama Damascus brought a bunch of Damascus billets and blades.

RW Wilson brought a little of everything.

Hawkins Knifemkaing Supplies

Bader Grinders

Stag, ivory, walrus, sea cow. it was all there.

The Awards

"Best Bowie" went to Doug Casteel

Rob Hudson won "Best hunter"

It was no real surprise that Tom Overeynder won "Best Folder"

Tom Maringer won "Best Fighter"

"Best Art Knife" went to Dianna Casteel

Gail Lunn added to her collection of awards with the "Judges Choice" award.

We had a couple of new sponsored awards this year.

The Frazier International History Museum presented the first "Museum's Choice Award" to Jerry Moen. The museum founder and world-class arms collector Owsley Brown Frazier personally selected the winning knife and presented the award to Jerry. Jerry then showed what a class act he is when he reached into his bag and withdrew another beautiful knife that he gave to Mr. Frazier to be displayed in the museum.

Makers Mark Distillery, the Kentucky maker of Makers Mark bourbon whiskey, presented the "Makers Mark Peoples Choice Award". The award was determined by the votes of people attending the show. The award was a specially etched bottle of Makers Mark whiskey with their signature red wax seal. Gil Hibben was the winner.

Beleive it or not, that's not everything. I simply didn't have time to photograph every table and every knife. And I couldn't post everything I did shoot. This is a good sampling of what the Knifemakers Guild Show is about. It was a great show and I hope you can join us next year at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville.

Visit for more information about the Guild and the show.

Thanks for looking.

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