He didn't have a knife, he wasn't a knife collector, he had found me on the internet, and a friend of his had found his knife, and it was OLD! And he needed to know what it was worth. It was old and had initials on the tang.
"What kind of handles does it have?" I asked.
"Are they stag?" I asked.
"What is stag?" he said, "I don't know what that is."
"Oh yeah, I guess so," he said.
He went on to give me the length, and then he threw in the kicker, "It says on the blade, 'Original Bowie Knife". At that point I described to him what a typical German bowie from the 60's through the modern day looks like.
He was disappointed when I told him I was referring to the late 1960's, not the 1860's, and that alas he had not discovered ole Jim Bowie's original knife.
However it was unusual that he wanted to argue the point. I counted 10, and then politely said, "Sorry, but this is not an Antiques Roadshow moment."
It seemed to hit him all at once. "Ohhhh," he said in a soft voice.
As I hung up the phone I just shook my head. "All part of paying dues," I told the friend sitting in my office, "after over 30 years I'm still paying them."
And that one question, about a knife marked "The Original Bowie Knife", does happen just as frequently as it did when I started in knives. Roughly six or seven times a year I have to ruin someone's day by telling them the truth about their German Bowie.