How’s this for a profession?
Published in a Sunday magazine by the Sunday Mail newspaper.
Your friendly neighbourhood arms dealers: The father-and-son team - who’ve made a fortune trading historic weapons
By Craig Mclean
Christian and Alex Cranmer, father-and-son antique weapons dealers, are shooting off their mouths.
At each other. As usual.
‘Dad wanted to buy a pair of $300,000 English pistols,’ Alex is saying with a disbelieving look.
‘Which is just completely insane, even though he thought they were a good deal. But I successfully persuaded him otherwise.’
‘Actually,’ says Surrey-born Christian to his American son, ‘you threatened to quit.’
‘But then again,’ Alex says, ‘I wanted to buy a quarter-of-a-million-dollar Sherman tank. Which everybody said I should have bought.’
Christian shrugs. ‘As my father said to me: Never buy anything you can’t pick up with one hand.
‘That’s always been my policy,’ the elder Cranmer states, conveniently forgetting the machine-gun-mounted command car he bought from the producers of Raiders Of The Last Ark.
And his failed attempt to purchase a Mercedes-Benz that once belonged to Adolf Hitler.
That said, a little amnesia is perhaps understandable.
After all, Christian and Alex Cranmer own £25 million-worth of military memorabilia.
And, as British viewers will see from this week, that weaponry also makes for a lot of entertaining TV. Especially if you throw in a side-order of familial warfare.
In a dark and dusty, oil-reeking storage facility in rural Pennsylvania, Christian and Alex are guiding me through the weapons-grade stock that has made them a fortune.
In crate after crate, in row upon row, the booty is piled high.
The 30,000 World War II-era German rifles, bought as a job lot from Portugal for £6,000, now sell at a brisk pace for £30 each.
The eight, wagon-wheeled Bira guns, an improved version of the Gatling, made in Nepal in 1885 and restored to their late-19th century glory, go for £17,000 a pop (or, in the case of this hand-cranked machine-gun, a rat-tat-tat).
The boxes of 1914 Russian trenching spades, dug out of long-forgotten Iron Curtain-era warehouses, snapped up for £4.50 per item, cleaned up and sell on for £80.
The Cranmers’ company, International Military Antiques, is shovelling in the money.
Weapons, webbing, ammunition, kit, tools, memorabilia, seemingly random jumbles of metal (they’re usually parts from disassembled historic machine-guns, made safe to comply with federal law) – it’s all here, heaps of the stuff, salvaged by Christian on innumerable international bargain-hunting expeditions over the last four decades.
IMA’s stock spans every major conflict and era backwards from World War II to the American War of Independence and British imperial adventures all over the globe.
And they’ve supplied authentic weapons to the producers of Band Of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and The Pacific.
That Thompson looks like just the thing that might solve the problem of a neighbor’s dog. Talk about hamburger.