Hill Pearce • A tribute to his works and influence

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
11,985
My persistence in posting Hill's works pays off. For me. (...and for others!)

I got an email from a collector from Georgia a couple of weeks ago:

Jim, You probably hear this pretty often but a recently acquired a 30 year old collection of handmade knives from the 70’s and 80’s. Among them is an ivory handled dagger by Hill Pearce.
I see you are or were a collector of his work and thought you might be able to give me an idea of its value. I’ve been able to find very little of his work on the web to compare it to.
I’m actually surprised I was able to identify who made it, that little “p” sure doesn’t give much of a clue.

He had looked through the early Knives Annuals under 'P' and determined Hill's mark matched this one on the choil. Next he did a Google search. You CAN'T google Hill Pearce without this thread coming up. There I was. :thumbup:

So I wrote back to respond and postponed conversation about this until we made a phone call the next day. The collector 'Jim' was as wonderful a guy as I've met in knives and within minutes we were chatting and sharing stories.

Anyway, I he sent me the compulsory 'crappy cell phone pics' ;) and they were clear enough to determine what I wanted to see. Yes, that's 100% Hill Pearce's work.

I told him I was interested. I had a figure in mind. I asked him if he had a figure. "Yes. Ummmm $xxx." It matched my number exactly. Sold. I didn't horse trade further. I wanted a win/win for both of us.

It arrived a few days ago and it was in described condition: Probably 30+ years old, but no cracks and no value-killing corrosion besides some specs here and there.

Let's see this knife:

orig.jpg


orig.jpg


6 1/2" (165mm) blade / 10 3/4" (275mm) OAL. I'll point out a few things:

  • It's fairly sharp, but mostly pointy. This was meant to penetrate more than slice.
  • The jimping on the blade matches my thumb nicely. Hill had solid ideas about ergonomics and this doesn't surprise me.
  • The ivory is creamy and pristine. I can see no Schreger lines, so it may or may not be elephant. Regardless, it's sweet. (Shhhh.)
  • The bottom pin is proud, all the rest are flush. Just one of those styling cues which keep things interesting.
  • No filework, but the bolster fluting is characteristic of his other works.
  • The simple leather-wrapped wooden scabbard fits perfectly. I don't know if he made it, yet I hope so. I show the back side to show the handmade aspect of this work.

I'm proud to add this one into my growing collection.

Thanks to Jim D., and thanks for reading!

Coop
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Messages
1,915
Very interesting and unique for sure, and for me, that's the appeal!

Great addition to your excellent collection!

Congrats Coop

Steve
-----------
Member, W.F. Moran Jr. Foundation
ABS Apprentice
 

The Amazing Virginian

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2010
Messages
7,872
That is great, Coop. I think all of us with a "collector's heart" know the joy you must be feeling. I am happy for you.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2002
Messages
1,704
Looks like a worthy addition to your collection! Don't ya love it when cool stuff drops right of the sky into your lap!!
 

BladeScout

Basic Member
Joined
May 16, 2010
Messages
9,347
Good score. Ive always been a fan of HPs distinct style and staggeringly beautiful blades.
 

Knifeologist

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2006
Messages
242
Nice to see this thread pop back up. I have seen it before but fun to look at it again and congrats on the addition to your collection. The HP knives have a great look/style to them.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2013
Messages
99
hi Coop,
I just wandered into this thread for the first time, and I've been a lurker on this website for years before I signed up. How I missed this is beyond me! Some great workmanship and designs going on here. The photography is wonderful as well.

Paul
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
11,985
I'm popping this thread back up. Not because I have had any new pieces; quite the contrary, it's been a Hill Pearce dry spell for me in the last couple of years. :(

ONE of our prominent BF members contacted me for Hill's phone # and actually gave him a call. I'm told they talked for over an hour!

I hope he will chime in with some insights. There is a LOT of history from that man. ;) :thumbsup:
 

braillediver

Gold Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2007
Messages
2,675
I don't recall this thread but Thanks- The knife at the top of the page is sweet. The first page needs more time studying the knives.
 

Logan Pearce

Awesome Sauce Smith (A.S.S)
Joined
Jan 21, 2012
Messages
371
I have been wanting to contact Hill Pearce for years now. I think I had the idea around 2012-2013. Some where in there, but something always came up. A few weeks ago, I decided to see if Coop had his phone number. To be far, Coop did say the number was at least 5 years old and it had been a number of years since they had talked.

I knew this would be a shot in the dark. I first called on a Sunday and it range about 20 times, before I hung up. Honestly, I thought it was no longer his number. I was a bit discouraged and became too busy to call until the following Thursday. That evening I gave him another call and on the 3rd ring his answering machine picked up the call.

I was surprised.

I can't remember what I mumbled, but that after I said my name, he picked up. Now, I don't know Hill. Which made the beginning a bit awkward on my end. It's hard enough talking to people that I like, much less people that I have never met. :p Luckily, we hit it off amazingly.

As Coop said, the history of knifemaking and the knife community from 30+ years ago that Hill knows, is nothing short of amazing. For the first hour we just exchanged information. He would tell me something about how it was when the knifemaking dinosaurs roamed the earth and I would tell him what had changed. I love everything knives. No matter what it is. I have collected every book that is knife related that I can get my hands on. Even though he was talking about things that happened before I was born, I still had an idea of what he was talking about.

What I didn't know was that he went and lived with Sid Birt for a month to learn damascus. He won the very first 'Wooden Sword' award that Knives Annual has, along with Bob Lum and Jim Corrado. It was the best story. See he didn't know he had won anything. He said opened a package that Ken Warner had sent him. When he opened it there was a piece of wood in it. He said it didn't even look like a sword, just a piece of wood. So Hill called Ken up and asked why he sent him some piece of crap in the mail. Ken told him that it was the first Wooden Sword award and he had won it. That there was a plaque inside that went with it. Hill said, you mean I have to put the award together myself? When they saw each other again at one of the next knife shows, Hill told Ken not to give him another award if it looked like that. lol. I should mention that they were close enough as friends to joke around like that.

Hill talked about when Jim Schmidt first started making knives. How Hill offered to share his table with Jim and they did so at some of the first knife shows that are now some of the biggest shows in the nation. We stayed on that subject for quite some time. I loved hearing about how Jim got started and got going, but also how the shows started and grew. As of that week, I took over the Arkansas Knife Show, so any and all insight has become more valuable than you can imagine. I mentioned it to Hill and we lost 10 minutes to that easily. It seemed to peak his interest, to say the least.

One of the more entertaining topics was damascus, both patterns and process. I told him how a lot of makers have been doing it for the last decade; with presses and kerosene. He simply said, 'that doesn't sound as fun' as they way they did it. No splash of fire, when you hit the molting borax that is dripping from a billet. Just a simple controlled, yet repetitive, squish. He also didn't know what mosaic pattern was and as I explained it to him, I swear he waved a dismissive hand. He brought up Bill Moran, saying 'that Williams guy knew a lot about damascus at the time'. I was like...who? It took him a minute to remember his last name. Just the context of it all, made me envision the knife community 30 or 40 years ago.

Hill said he only likes natural materials. He also told me where he came up with most of his fileworking designs. Apparently there is a gun book that was like the bible of gun smiths and knifemakers alike at the time. He gave me the name and I have it written down, but it isn't handy as I write this. He also feels the same way I do about people misspelling our last name. Our last name is funny for this career. Not to get anymore corny than I usually am, but it does make me feel like I was born to do this. Even before my family history. But we both hate seeing our last name spelled Hill Pierce and Logan Pierce. I told him I have it worse, because people will be on my website, with my name in front of them and they still spell it Pierce rather than Pearce.

Randomly throughout the first hour, Hill would ask, what was it you were calling about? We bounced from so many topics that I had almost forgotten why I had called. I can't share that just yet. What I can say is that the next time I go through Alabama we plan to hang out. It won't be until later this year, but I know it will be a blast!
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
11,985
Terrific! What a gratifying encounter you had, and I'm SO glad I'm not alone in the personal interest. :thumbsup:

(I'm your wingman if this was at all possible. :p)
 

Logan Pearce

Awesome Sauce Smith (A.S.S)
Joined
Jan 21, 2012
Messages
371
Thank you guys! I will have much more to tell by the end of this. You are definitely my wingman, Coop! There will be updates on how it goes, I promise. ;)
 

TK Steingass

Knifemaker - Buckeye
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
5,050
I have been wanting to contact Hill Pearce for years now. I think I had the idea around 2012-2013. Some where in there, but something always came up. A few weeks ago, I decided to see if Coop had his phone number. To be far, Coop did say the number was at least 5 years old and it had been a number of years since they had talked.

I knew this would be a shot in the dark. I first called on a Sunday and it range about 20 times, before I hung up. Honestly, I thought it was no longer his number. I was a bit discouraged and became too busy to call until the following Thursday. That evening I gave him another call and on the 3rd ring his answering machine picked up the call.

I was surprised.

I can't remember what I mumbled, but that after I said my name, he picked up. Now, I don't know Hill. Which made the beginning a bit awkward on my end. It's hard enough talking to people that I like, much less people that I have never met. :p Luckily, we hit it off amazingly.

As Coop said, the history of knifemaking and the knife community from 30+ years ago that Hill knows, is nothing short of amazing. For the first hour we just exchanged information. He would tell me something about how it was when the knifemaking dinosaurs roamed the earth and I would tell him what had changed. I love everything knives. No matter what it is. I have collected every book that is knife related that I can get my hands on. Even though he was talking about things that happened before I was born, I still had an idea of what he was talking about.

What I didn't know was that he went and lived with Sid Birt for a month to learn damascus. He won the very first 'Wooden Sword' award that Knives Annual has, along with Bob Lum and Jim Corrado. It was the best story. See he didn't know he had won anything. He said opened a package that Ken Warner had sent him. When he opened it there was a piece of wood in it. He said it didn't even look like a sword, just a piece of wood. So Hill called Ken up and asked why he sent him some piece of crap in the mail. Ken told him that it was the first Wooden Sword award and he had won it. That there was a plaque inside that went with it. Hill said, you mean I have to put the award together myself? When they saw each other again at one of the next knife shows, Hill told Ken not to give him another award if it looked like that. lol. I should mention that they were close enough as friends to joke around like that.

Hill talked about when Jim Schmidt first started making knives. How Hill offered to share his table with Jim and they did so at some of the first knife shows that are now some of the biggest shows in the nation. We stayed on that subject for quite some time. I loved hearing about how Jim got started and got going, but also how the shows started and grew. As of that week, I took over the Arkansas Knife Show, so any and all insight has become more valuable than you can imagine. I mentioned it to Hill and we lost 10 minutes to that easily. It seemed to peak his interest, to say the least.

One of the more entertaining topics was damascus, both patterns and process. I told him how a lot of makers have been doing it for the last decade; with presses and kerosene. He simply said, 'that doesn't sound as fun' as they way they did it. No splash of fire, when you hit the molting borax that is dripping from a billet. Just a simple controlled, yet repetitive, squish. He also didn't know what mosaic pattern was and as I explained it to him, I swear he waved a dismissive hand. He brought up Bill Moran, saying 'that Williams guy knew a lot about damascus at the time'. I was like...who? It took him a minute to remember his last name. Just the context of it all, made me envision the knife community 30 or 40 years ago.

Hill said he only likes natural materials. He also told me where he came up with most of his fileworking designs. Apparently there is a gun book that was like the bible of gun smiths and knifemakers alike at the time. He gave me the name and I have it written down, but it isn't handy as I write this. He also feels the same way I do about people misspelling our last name. Our last name is funny for this career. Not to get anymore corny than I usually am, but it does make me feel like I was born to do this. Even before my family history. But we both hate seeing our last name spelled Hill Pierce and Logan Pierce. I told him I have it worse, because people will be on my website, with my name in front of them and they still spell it Pierce rather than Pearce.

Randomly throughout the first hour, Hill would ask, what was it you were calling about? We bounced from so many topics that I had almost forgotten why I had called. I can't share that just yet. What I can say is that the next time I go through Alabama we plan to hang out. It won't be until later this year, but I know it will be a blast!

Logan: I'm very glad you posted this - most interesting read, and, you made an old guy's day a good one when you talked with him.
 
Top