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PCC Intl Fakes

Discussion about these knives:

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=794556

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/879992-Hello-all!?p=9975736#post9975736

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/824008-International-Series-Are-these-real?highlight=Seto

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/819249-The-all-purpose-Japanese-balisong-boom-thread/page2?highlight=Seto

For the last ten years at least we have seen some fake PCC balisongs on the market. The first ones originated from an outfit in Japan that sold them through their website. It is rumored that this outfit bought the old PCC stamps and dies when PCC went out of business. Until a few years ago, you could still purchase these PCC copies from the Japanese manufacturers website. I used to visit the site to check them out and discuss them, but never ordered. They are well-built, and very similar to the originals, so they are still good balisongs, but aren't authentic PCC knives.

Update: The Japanese manufacturers site may still be up and running. Check here: http://www.ohyasuya.co.jp/factorybrands/butterfly/balison/pacific.htm

PCC knives derive their value from being rare (currently in short supply), branded PCC (collectors collect the company), and old (vintage--1980's). Some people think PCC knives are also well-built, but in reality, the Int'l Series were not that well made. The fakes are neither in short supply, old, or branded. They may still have value as well-built balisongs in the classic style, but they don't have value in the same ways that PCC's have value or for the same reasons.

More recently, there are reports of similar fakes coming out of a Chinese outfit. I can't verify that, but my source claims to know the manufacturer/importer and says they are Chinese. In my opinion, whatever is coming out of China seem to be the same knives made in Japan, so maybe they are flowing from Japan to China, despite claims they are being manufactured in China. That, or maybe the dies and stamps have been replicated or moved to China. These new knives are so similar to the Japanese version that I have not been able to tell the difference. We know where they are coming from by who is making, selling and importing them. Both the Japanese and Chinese fakes are of high quality manufacture, but are not collectibles as authentic PCC balisongs. Buyer beware!

Because they are well-built (better in many many cases than PCC's original Int'l models!), they are still worth some money as decent balisongs. I would pay $100 for one. But I would not pay big money as if they were real PCC's, like anything close to $300. I have seen these fakes listed for $500 on reputable knife retail websites, which is ridiculous considering even the authentic originals would not be worth half that.

I have listed some of the ways to spot the fakes below. Pictures are also included of the two types to better educate the community. A Marlowe Badger is seen in one of the pictures, it is real and not a fake. The signs to spot the fakes are:

1) The sheath type is a tell-tale sign. Does not resemble any authentic PCC sheaths. Main difference is the fakes have all-black sheaths while PCC sheaths always had the butterfly logo stitched in white. The fake sheaths are likely to look brand new, not 20+ years old. In addition, PCC Int'l knives did not come with sheaths, while the fakes do. You could order a sheath back in the day to go with a PCC Int'l knife, but most didn't. The fakes seem to always come with sheaths.

2) Brass handles another sure giveaway. No PCC Intl model was made with brass handles

3) A date stamp on the blade of 1988 or later marks it as a fake. PCC closed its doors in 1987. Many of these fakes have a date stamp of 1988. Not all the fakes have a date stamped on the blade. Some of the dates are even after 1988.

4)The brass on the fakes is often shiny, as in too new to be a 20+ year old knife. Have you ever seen brass that has lied around for 20 plus years? Brass oxidizes, developing a patina with age. These sellers would have to be pulling these fakes out of their supposedly 20+ year hibernation and polishing them up with Brasso, except they aren't, because you can tell when an old brass knife has been restored, it never looks as even as a new knife.

5) The stamp on the tang may be off. On original PCC's, the "International Series" text under the butterfly typically sits just next to the plunge line for the blade grind. On the fakes, the "International Series" text is often further from the plunge line, as in 1-2 cm or so. On some of the fakes, the tops of the butterfly logo's wings may reach or even go under the tops of the handles. Not true with the originals. The also seems too large on the fakes, smaller on the originals. The stamping on the other side of the blade copies the originals exactly.

6) I have yet to confirm this, but the tang cups on the fakes seem too shallow and narrow. They resemble CCC tang cups rather than what I would expect authentic PCC Intl tang cups look like.

7) Exposed pivot pins vs. hidden. Most PCC Int'l balis have exposed pins. The fakes have hidden pins. There is only one exception to this way of telling the difference (see below)

8) The hole pattern on the handles. You'll notice the fakes use two patterns. The brass ones use a big hole--2 little holes pattern similar to USA production PCCs. This pattern was never used on any authentic PCC Int'l series balisongs. The stainless handled model uses a round hole skeletonized pattern. PCC only ever made one knife like that, and it's story is such that most you will come across are going to be fakes (story below).

9) Consider the source of the knife (knives) if you are buying, the date bought, and the history given for the knife as important information toward determining its authenticity.

PCC only ever made two production balisongs with the single round hole skeletonized pattern. Their USA production models had the one hole--two little holes pattern, but none of the Int'l balis had that. One of the balis they made with a single round hole skeletonized pattern was the 197, sold in 1986 and 1987. The 197 was a USA production knife, not an Int'l, so if you find a real one, it won't have any Int'l markings on it like the fakes. The other knife is where this whole story begins to make some sense.

Most of PCC's stainless Int'l models had slotted holes, others had zytel handles with round chrome fittings. The only PCC bali that was made abroad that had a skeletonized round hole pattern was the infamous model 129. I won't even call it an Int'l Series balisong because PCC hadn't invented the International Series yet. The 129 was PCC's first foray into overseas production, and it went badly. The 129 did not meet PCC's QC standards. Problem is PCC had already been taking orders. So 200 on them were released to fill those orders and the 129 was no more. This was in 1985.

So it's not that you won't find authentic PCC 129's out there, I have come across a couple in my day. It's just that the vast majority of single hole skeletonized pattern Int'l balis are going to be fakes, because the real 129's are rare. The real 129's could also not be stamped 1988, because they were made in 1985 and discontinued in 1985. The real 129's do not have "International Series" stamped under the butterfly either. The real 129 had diecast alloy handles. The fakes appear to have stainless steel handles, but I can't confirm that.

Keep in mind that many people are being fooled because it is hard, even for folks who should know better, to know the history of PCC Int'l knives, the various models, and what to look for. Plus, many people don't know these very real-looking fakes are coming onto the market. I have seen legit collectors selling them as real, and otherwise credible online knife stores selling them as authentic, even with the obviously fake sheath.

Use my pictures and my warning signs to educate others, and buyer beware!

You know what the weird thing is though that one day we'll have to ask Les: The Japanese outfit did not start making these fakes until the year after PCC closed its doors in 1987, even though they made the 129 back in 1985. The earliest fakes are stamped 1988. In fact, they may all be stamped 1988, that may be the only stamp the manufacturer is set up with. There is a rumor that the Japanese manufacturer, that already possessed the dies and stamps that PCC had helped them set up, asked for permission to use PCC's dies when PCC closed it's doors in 1987. Many years ago, I heard that PCC had agreed and actually sold the dies to the manufacturer, giving them permission to use them, and that PCC sent over additional dies that were bought by the Japanese manufacturer at that time. This was all after the bankruptcy. PCC was bankrupt, in need of cash, and uncertain about its future. I doubt the butterfly logo stamps were a part of that deal (that PCC would agree to let them use the logo), but who knows, they may have gotten permission to use those as well, or that may be where the manufacturer goes off the reservation. PCC sending additional dies over would explain the emergence of the one hole/two little hole skeletonized pattern used on the brass version. So in the end, they aren't PCC's, but they may be balis made with original PCC USA dies by an outfit that owns them and has the authorization to use them.

"Hi xxxxxx, there has been alot of discussion around this type of PCC lately and most folks might consider it fake. Just wanted buyers to be aware. It is possible it might be real, but I would need to see the tang cups, reverse of the blade and any sheath that may have come with it to say with greater probability. The blade steel is 440C if it is authentic, not ATS-34. A real PCC Int'l in this configuration would be very rare. 99.9% of PCC International knives never had stainless handles and never had round open holes on the handles. That's why the odds are that it is a SETO made knife along the lines of the PCC style. Some also believe they were a PCC order that was never received and fulfilled. Take a look at this page of a PCC catalog which lists the full PCC Int'l line up. Notice all the open skeletonized models have slotted holes. Notice where it says at the bottom: "Specs for all International Series models are . . . alloy die cast handles. https://pbase.com/balisong/image/39110101. Anyway, if prospective buyers have questions or if you want any more info on it I don't mind providing more detail."

Bottom line: SETO may have permission to produce these inside Japan, but they are not real PCC knives, they just use the PCC stamps. No authentic International Series balisong ever had stainless steel handles, round open holes in the handles, or hidden pivot pins. Those are all signs of the fakes.
PCC Intl Fake 1 (Chinese-2009)
PCC Intl Fake 1 (Chinese-2009)
PCC Intl Fake 2 (Chinese-2009)
PCC Intl Fake 2 (Chinese-2009)
Brass model from Knifezilla website (price=$500!)
Brass model from Knifezilla website (price=$500!)
Stainless model from Knifezilla (price=$500!)
Stainless model from Knifezilla (price=$500!)
Japanese fakes (from their website)
Japanese fakes (from their website)
Japanese fakes 2
Japanese fakes 2
Japanese fakes 3
Japanese fakes 3
Japanese fakes 4
Japanese fakes 4
Japanese website page
Japanese website page