They say that bad things come in threes, and that adage has come home to the knife community in recent days. There have been 3 passings of note, beginning with the “OG” of knife photography, Jim Weyer. The other two, Lynn Watkins and Alex Kovach, were long time members of the collecting community, and are familiar to eastern collectors in particular. KNIFE Magazine publisher Mark Zalesky offers the following words…
Pioneering knife photographer Jim Weyer passed away January 2, at the age of 87. A 1995 inductee into the Blade Cutlery Hall of Fame, Weyer singlehandedly raised the bar on knife images in the early 1980s with his meticulously composed photographs of handmade knives, taking the knife magazines and books by storm. In interviews, Weyer related that he viewed handmade knives as “sculptures in steel.” He strove to capture them on film in a way that allowed everyone to see the artistic expression in their blades and handles, and did so in a way that no one before him had ever done.
Under the name Weyer International, Jim and his wife Louise (who died in 2015) published five different collections of his knife photography under the title Knives: Points of Interest, as well as the first book on Loveless knives, entitled Living on the Edge, Legends of the Loveless Logo.
The Ohio-based Weyer retired from photography in the late 2000s, having bettered the custom knife community to an extent that few others have. Today, his work continues to serve as inspiration for the present generation of knife photographers.
Those interested can read these two profiles of Weyer:
(obituary not yet posted, coming soon)
Lynn “Red” Watkins
Lynn Watkins was one of the true gentlemen among the old time knife traders. You could tell those who had been in the business for a long time because they would refer to Lynn as “Red”. As long as I knew him, the better part of 25 years, his hair had always been white! After years of declining health, Lynn left this world on Dec. 28th.
Based in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Lynn was a knife dealing regular from back in the days of Washington Courthouse and all of the smaller trading events that were once popular in East Tennessee. Those of you who follow Bruce Voyles’ “Bruce on the Loose” column in KNIFE Magazine may recall that Lynn sold Bruce some of his very first knives, and he often appears in Bruce’s tales of knife trading the way it used to be. Lynn owned a lot of wonderful knives over the years including many special Case knives, Scagels, and a Samuel Bell bowie.
Many who may not know Lynn personally will nevertheless be familiar with the high quality “Hickory Hill” knife rolls and cases that he designed and sold. Since I discovered them years ago, they’re the only knife rolls I have used, and I still have a fresh one or two stashed for when I finally wear out the ones that are currently in use.
Carrying on the family legacy, Lynn’s son Tony Watkins is a friendly and familar face to today’s knife enthusiasts from his time spent selling knives on satellite TV and other video venues.
The December 28th loss of Greenburg, Pennsylvania collector-dealer Alex Kovach will come as a shock to many, especially those who visited with him at shows as recent as November’s knife show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where he was his usual joke-cracking self. Alex was 63, and passed away due to Covid-19 complications.
Alex specialized in antique switchblades and owned many superb examples over the years. He was handy at knife repair, a particularly useful skill for often-fragile switchblades, and enjoyed bringing damaged examples back to their former glory. Alex will be missed by his many friends across the U.S. and beyond.
Fellow switchblade collector Myron Tupa said of Alex, “He was very active in the knife collecting community sharing his extensive knowledge of knife related subjects to an appreciative audience. For those of us who don’t follow the forums, he was also a wonderful source of information in person, phone calls and emails. His dogged persistence in finding and acquiring the rarest of rare knives, ephemera and advertising materials, left many of us in awe. He will be missed in our community.”
Thanks to Myron Tupa, Bruce Voyles, Del Corsi, Linda Hibben, Russ Weyer, and Dawn Weyer Wacenske for keeping us in the loop.