Sheldon Levy, creator of the Automatic
Knife Resource Guide and
"I’m just a guy with a passion for knowledge on any subject that captures my imagination...
In early 1992, spring steel became an object of my fascination. For the record however, this was not a novel fascination. As a kid in the 1950’s, I’d been seduced by the colorful counter displays at local hardware stores offering an array of Sure-Snaps and Schrade double-enders along with the Imperial push-buttons that were as ubiquitous as leaders and weights in our fishing tackle boxes.
Unfortunately however, the intervening years had demonized such a simple concept, an incredibly useful tool that could be utilized by one hand while the other was perhaps holding a piece of rope, cardboard or errant thread, was now seen by many as an iconic weapon — too vile, too dangerous, with no redeeming value in contemporary society. After rediscovering a couple older knives from my youth, I was curious to see if there were others who shared my fascination for these mechanical wonders. Well, gad zooks! Not only were the knives themselves as scarce as hen’s teeth, any information on the subject was elusive as well.
After making a couple of finds and diligently backtracking only fueled my interest in learning more. I decided to create my own venue and cast a wide net in the form of display ads in a dozen or so publications I felt would yield the best results. For those of you not looking for spring steel sixteen years ago, here’s what I went up against—Two of the most prominent knife publications at the time refused my ads because I used the word “switchblade” in it. After some negotiations, a third publication let me go with “automatic” instead. It didn’t take long, but the response was most gratifying. I heard from like-minded fans from all over the planet.
The ground-breaking first issue, Summer 1992.
THE NEWSLETTER began as a labor of love and remained so. While it provided me with a wealth of information, I gained the most joy from sharing that information and providing a nexus to bring others together. I am so tempted to acknowledge the individuals who were so generous with their time, energy and collections—All of which contributed to the unique resource THE NEWSLETTER became. However, while many wished to share their passion anonymously, others ambivalent and some unabashedly seeking credit—All have earned my deepest respect and gratitude. (Plus after all these years I’d feel terrible if I left anyone out).
So the rest as they say is history, and THE NEWSLETTER is a vibrant collection of switchblade history. For myself however, I am passing torch here—The very mantle that is THE NEWSLETTER and all it has been so that the work of all those years and the many that contributed to making it happen can be both discovered and rediscovered by fans of spring steel.
From your humble editor, Enjoy."
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Expert Opinions from the Authors of "Switchblades of Italy"
About Sheldon Levy, who allowed me to express my opinions and experiences for eleven years - and learn about switchblades on the job, not enough has been put on record.
"Before The Newsletter, there was essentially nothing; after it, the world of automatic knife collecting grew into the little giant that it now is. When I answered the ad in Shotgun News requesting a sample copy of this new switchblade publication, I could not have imagined the influence it would have upon my life. Not only have I co-authored a book, but I have published in three knife publications and delivered four academic papers on the subject. And many of my very best friends would have remained unknown to me forever. Sheldon was the godfather of it all. He took a huge chance in many ways when he started publication, and he has certainly earned the title of "Father of the Switchblade Renaissance."
Every collection starts and continues because of two factors: Interest and Inspiration....
"My own interest in automatic knives was born in Mexico in the early 1970s with the purchase of a "Rizzuto Estileto" switchblade. While a little sub par by today’s standards, it was the genuine article at that time. An assortment of common American and European automatics followed for a decade until 1982 when “An Introduction To Switchblade Knives” was published by Ben and Lowell Myers. With many beautiful and exotic knives shown from all corners of the world, it was my first real inspiration.
Although "An Introduction To Switchblades" was a great milestone, it lacked in hard research and history. What the mostly underground society of switchblade collectors really needed was some form of publication devoted to spring steel. This void was filled in 1992 with the debut of “The Newsletter”. Sheldon Levy was the sole creator, publisher, editor, and art director of this fledgling information source which focused on all forms of automatic knives. As with most publications it started small and humble, but soon grew into a great publication. With the likes of Brad West and Mario as contributors, wonderful examples were shown and described in accurate detail. The Newsletter upped the ante with the addition of Dan Fuller as a contributing author. Dan wrote wonderful articles on the social aspects of this odd hobby which provided great depth beyond the knives themselves. My interest grew dramatically when Professor Pete McMickle came on board. Pete wrote outstanding articles on the oldest and rarest switchblades that were known to exist.
Sheldon was not just the guy in charge, but also a researcher and author himself. He wrote on a variety of different types of automatic knives and made great advances in the overall knowledge of Italian cutlery in particular. My hats off to Sheldon for putting this ten year run of invaluable work together. Thanks for the information and inspiration".
I will enjoy my collection of Newsletters for many years to come. I will also say from the bottom of my heart, thank you Sheldon for the most comprehensive compilation of switchblade information to ever be published.
"Like many others that I know, the very first thing I did when I got hooked up to the internet in 1996 was to type "switchblade" into a search engine. The first hit I explored was the loaded with Italian stilettos, and next was offering the wonderful Hubertus knives that I had loved for years. Needless to say they must have been glad I found them! The third hit I explored, however, was perhaps the most exciting for me of all. I love information about the objects I love almost as much as the objects themselves, and the web page for the Automatic Knife Resource Guide and Newsletter made me feel as if I struck gold. Within 5 minutes of discovering the site, I was on the phone with Sheldon, subscribing, and ordering all of the back issues that were available from the first few years. When that package arrived, I was in heaven.
I looked forward to each issue, and when I received it, everything stopped until I had read it. To be asked to contribute those last few years was an honor, and icing on the cake. I have been a contributor to a quarterly publication ever since, and I can say from experience that it is not easy to come up with interesting topics four times a year, so to come up with an entire issue with that frequency is no small feat. To do so for 11 years is extraordinary.
We were all sad to see our Newsletters stop coming, but as they say, all things must pass."