I can very much appreciate your concerns about the way so many people are using the term "mint". As an example, the only "mint" (original) Remington knives I have ever seen was when Dr. Forsyth(?) donated his collection to the museum around 1979. Dr. Forsyth(?) collected knives when he was a young man and he put them away. I don't know how he kept them or what type of oil he used to preserve them but they were like the day they came out of the Remington factory in 1940 or before. They were still in the original box. Around this time I had become friends with Mr.. Nilo Mioria who was the president of Camillus Cutlery Co. He was in his 70's then. He passed away around 1989. I had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Mioria at the factory and his home. At that time, in his home, in his attic, there was roll after roll after roll of antique knives. Mr.. Mioria went to work for Camillus when he was 12. Every time a new knife (or contract type knife) was made, he would get one. When he began showing me these old knives, I could not believe it. These were knives I had only seen pictures of or the ones I had seen were badly worn.
However, most all of these fine old knives had rust and rust spots on them. They had not been taken care of (by keeping the blades oiled, etc.). They were brought home and placed in a knife roll 30, 40, or 50 years before. I don't know what happened to these knives after his death. These knives could in no way be called "mint" because even though they were never used and they stayed in the hands of the president of Camillus, they were rusty. If these knives were cleaned up and re-polished, could they be called mint? NO. Why? because there would be a change to the knife. Metal would have to be removed (in order to remove the pits). The etch might be removed. The finish on the blade will not be the same as the original. Therefore, any way you cut it, it is not the same as the day it was made or completely original (i.e. the finish). There has been a change to the knife. Let's look at coin collecting. Would you call a silver dollar coin "mint" or BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) if it had been lying in a federal bank or the mint for 50 years and had tarnished? This is why people use the terms of "near mint", fine, good, etc. "Mint" (a term we borrowed from the coin collectors) has always been a common term meaning "straight from the mint", "out of the box", perfect with no defects, like the day it was made, a condition straight out of the factory.
It saddens me how people will say anything to try to sell a knife. In the 60's and 70's, I did collect a lot of knives. There were a lot of counterfeit Remingtons, Winchesters, Case, and many others floating around then. Since then, with so many reproductions of these knives, it would be very hard to tell a repo-counterfeit from a real one. I think this is why so many people are starting to now use the phrase "mint", "NIB" (New In Box) and other catch phrases that would give more value to the knife. In Jim Parker's book, which was co-written by Bruce Volyes, there was a good description on how knives were graded. I did have a copy of this book, but I can't lay my hands on it at present, but there are several price guides to knives that talk about this.