Kissing Crane has a long-standing history, as well as a statement of quality. The history of this company dates back to the 19th century. These knives have seen everything, including two world wars. They have been used everywhere and for everything. Designed mostly as pocket knives, it is not unusual to run into an antique piece or at least a vintage unit dating a few decades back.
Dating a Kissing Crane knife can be a bit tricky for more reasons. Believe it or not, the brand is so diversified that even an experienced knife collector would struggle a little. Bring your vintage knife to a professional to estimate it and they may also find it challenging – at times, they may only be able to give you some estimates about it. Some knives are very specific and can be properly dated, while others are not.
There are more things to pay attention to when learning how to date such a knife. But before getting into small details, here are some of the challenges you may end up facing. The good news is that no matter how old or used your knife is, you can still get some ideas about its dating range.
Challenges when dating a Kissing Crane knife
It is fairly simple to date a relatively modern Kissing Crane knife. The company is still out there with a primary goal of quality and craftsmanship. Dealing with a new knife is simple, but real problems occur when you try to identify an old model.
One of the challenges implies reading the code. Open your folding knife and you will notice a small code on one of the blades, something like 2929XVII. Got more knives? Chances are you will find different codes. Unfortunately, finding a database with all these codes is almost impossible.
The second challenge refers to antique knives. Whether you have a model designed during World War I or World War II – or even before the world wars, the stamped code might be a little off. You could struggle reading it, meaning you can only estimate its age based on its appearance.
Third, the company has moved its operations over a few different countries. Initially started in Germany, it was taken over a few times – it is currently owned by On The Edge Brands. The production was moved to Taiwan, then to China. In other words, while quality standards are unchanged, knives have been stamped with different codes throughout history.
Now that you are aware of the issues that may arise, here is how to date a Kissing Crane knife.
How to date a Kissing Crane knife
A brief inspection of your Kissing Crane knife will tell you most of the details you require, but this is not a general rule.
Check the stamp, logo, or code
Most Kissing Crane knives, especially the old vintage ones come with two blades. Blades had different purposes back then, based on their shapes and designs. Sizes also vary widely from one model to another. All in all, if you own one of these rare knives, simply unfold both blades completely.
Look around the bases. Check each blade individually. Ignore the tip or the edge – these parts wear out with time due to wear and tear, as well as sharpening. Therefore, most manufacturers avoid stamping anything there – instead, they focus on the base.
Most Kissing Crane folding knives came with a single stamp only. You will have to check both blades on each side. There are no big logos or anything like that, but just shortcodes. You will find a bunch of numbers, as well as a Roman number.
Each number in the code means something. For example, 3235 has a specific meaning:
- 32 stands for the pattern.
- The second 3 stands for the blade.
- 5 stands for the stag.
Here is another example. Find a knife with the 2929 rating and it breaks down like this:
- 29 stands for the pattern, which is a canoe in this case.
- The second 2 stands for the blade.
- 9 stands for bone.
Basically, Kissing Crane used to have a code for each pattern, a number for the blade, and another number to tell what the handle was made of.
The Roman number goes in a different direction. This dating system began in 1972 – the first number was XI. If you can see XIII, the knife was made in 1974. The first numbers are irrelevant if you just want to date a Kissing Cranes knife. The Roman numerals will give you the year of manufacturing. If you see XXIV that was made in 1985. They coded like on the knives till 1986 (XXV).
On newer knives, you may see the KC prefix, which was started at the beginning of the 1990s. It will help you get an idea about the origins of your knife. Also, newer knives may have stamps on both blades – sometimes, the stamp is only the logo.
Without Roman numerals or a KC prefix, your knife dates from 1995-2004 or 1986 – 1991.
Get to a professional
There are knife experts out there that could at least give you a few ideas. They may not be able to give you the exact year, but they can tell the year range by just looking at your knife. This is not the type of job you do without a passion, so they are dedicated. There is a decent chance they will have old catalogs and charts with codes, years, and models, so a bit of patience could work a very long way.
Believe it or not, even an expert may find it difficult to date your knife, so they may also refer to print items for reference.
You can find a few handy portals, discussion boards, and forums for knife experts and enthusiasts. They are also organized by niche. Avoid hunting knife forums, for example – stick to classic, antique or general knives. Get an account, post a few pictures of the knife from more angles, measure it and mention its size, but also write the code down. Collectors or experts will find it relatively simple to tell whether the knife was made in Germany, Taiwan, or China. They can tell you whether it was made in 1890 or 1940.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.