If you are reading this, that means you are still kicking, and we have a long way to go yet. Don’t give up. Just stay away and wash your hands, and under all conditions, don’t touch that fat face...
As we wander into the late part of April, we are excited to see the extra-long hours of sunshine, and I can now mow the yard more often. Not a bad hobby considering.
I just got this, Jr. Bear back recently. Our knife is one that Loveless made in November 1999 for us. Bob was excited about the hidden pins, and of course, we thought it was the most beautiful Jr. Bear to leave Riverside. I kept the knife for 11 years, not wanting to sell it. But after a friend stayed on me for three years that he needed this particular one. I did like any average human, I caved in, lost my nerve, call it what you will, peer pressure. So he just traded it back. It is excellent to have this beauty back home.
The Amber stag is from Marge, at Macecraft. The Amber stag like this first appeared in 1995 at the AKI show in San Diego. This handle is not the super, super red-dyed stag that you see on Loveless knives made after 2006. Where the dye comes off in your hands, and the stag is so fat and thick with full bark that it feels like holding a Telephone Pole. That is not what Loveless is about. He is about fitting the handle to be a sure grip in your hand. The Jr. Bear, you can see how the handle was sculpted away at the back so that your pinky can lock in the knife handle. Sure he lost some of the dyed colors, but when you see the removed stag and the white of the stag, you know you have pre-2006 Loveless. I don’t buy any Loveless made after 2006, and I don’t like the double initial plates or the sub hilt that are too tight to get your finger in between the front guard and the sub hilt. Just not for me. I don’t like the full bark fat handles, a complete waste of time. I am not buying the knife for the quality of stag, but the feel and balance.
That is the reason as time goes by knives like this are what Bob meant to do, look so good you want to pick it up and feel so good you don’t want to put it down. Classic, Vintage, or whatever you want to call it, but a Loveless in all its glory.
This one has the double nude logo. I asked Bob one time, “Is it harder to put on, or more trouble.” Loveless said, “no, I just get paid for the Idea.” So every artist should get paid for the original thought. I remember getting Bob to sign the sheaths, something he had never considered. We even paid him extra to sign the sheath. But I had always collected autographs, and to me, this was just a natural thing to do. Then, later on, Loveless signed about everything that came out of the shop, and I still like that.
I had a friend that sold a knife that I got from Loveless 20 years ago, and he decided to sell to buy a big bear. The funny thing was it was, of course, signed by Loveless, but the man that was buying the knife sent it back and said: “the signature was fake.” I have never in all my life seen any forged Loveless signature. Plus, I got the knife from Loveless, so it was all right. I wondered how many Loveless signatures had this guy seen that made him an instant expert on signed Loveless sheaths. That was one of the best I have heard. In the end, he did finally take the knife. So this one has the signed sheath, I assure you it is real. It adds no value to the knife, maybe in 50 years it might, but as long as it has a Loveless sheath, that is all you need. Bob makes a great sheath, I’ll give you that, but you are not buying a sheath you are buying the knife. It would be like turning down a Mercedes, Hellcat, Viper, Lexus, Range Rover, BMW, Ford, because it does not have Weather Tech floor mats.
In the history of Loveless and his designs, you have to remember that the Jr. Bear that we all know and love came out of the shop from only about 1990 forward. He never had a catalog name for something called a Jr. Bear. Loveless was always trying to make the best working tool possible. He always said, “you will always catch your thumbnail somewhere on my knife if you want a perfect go buy a factory knife. We are making handmade knives here, so yes, they will all have something different. Steve Johnson is the opposite with his fit and finish. You never will catch your thumb on an S.R. Johnson knife. I remember one of the first we had gotten from Steve 36 years ago, and it was so perfect we thought there were no pins in the guard, and that it had to be integral. But Steve said, “No, there are pins in there.” Everything Steve does is off the chart, I mean, look at the way he works the handle materials. He never cracks pearl; the stag is perfect; the Mastodon always beyond what you and I can find on the market. How does Steve know how to work all these different handle materials.
Bob was on the other side of this fit and finish thing. For example, he hardly ever matched his stag. It seemed that Loveless found out that he could have a set of stag handles, but get two knives with an excellent front piece of the stag, and then the back of the knife, the stag looked like something his dog had been chewing on. But that was Loveless. His designs, the hollow grind that the brought to the modern knife, the sub hilt, and bringing back the tapered tang to the contemporary knife put him a rocket ride to the top of the knife world. Is there anything more copied than the Drop hunter, or if you order a knife from some other maker, usually they want a Loveless Big Bear, Chute, NY Special, Loveless fighter, etc. etc.
As AG Russell said 40 years ago, there is nobody on the same orbit as Bob Loveless; there are plenty of great makers, but for whatever reason, Loveless just checked all the boxes.
This classic Jr. Bear, with signed sheath, is for sale. $25,000