The pawnbrokers of “Pawn Stars” love cannons – whether they are rifles, spear weapons or revolvers – but is there not a little room in their hearts for grenade launchers? That Season 7 Episode “Wouldn’t It Be Ice Cream?” answers this question with a resounding “yes!” when salesman Mike brings a World War II Japanese knee mortar to Rick Harrison for inspection.
Mike’s father had served in World War II and brought back some items from his trip, including this deadly weapon. Designed in 1929, the Model 89 Knee Mortar was used to improve the accuracy of grenades – and with around 120,000 used during World War II, it is safe to say that it was made to the satisfaction of the Imperial Japanese Army. What made Knee Mortar Model 89 innovative was its portability: Unlike other mortars, the shape of this kind was not that clumsy and it required no detailed setup to use. Mike’s Model 89 was deactivated after the war with a metal rod welded over the mouth of his barrel and a hole sawn closer to the base. It is not functional, but it can still be valuable.
Mike wants $ 2,000 for his knee mortar, and he tells the camera in his pre-sale interview: “I don’t think it’s unreasonable.” We will see!
Before Rick can buy knee mortar, he needs to see if it’s legal at all
Rick Harrison calls weapons and military expert Craig Gottlieb to assess seller Mike’s knee mortar Model 89. This term – “knee mortar” – is not a translation from the original Japanese name for the weapon; rather, Craig tells Rick that American soldiers came upon the term from a misunderstanding of how the weapon was used. Other mortar is supported on the legs – like a stand – but the Model 89 has only a curved metal end that looks like it fits over a soldier’s knee on the thigh. Appearance can be deceiving, however, and Model 89s were actually thrown into the ground. It’s much safer – at least for the weapon operator.
Rick’s first question to Craig reflects the complicated rules that mortgagees must follow when buying weapons: Is it legal to own? Craig responds with an unequivocal “yes” to Rick’s delight, and the mortgage broker tells viewers in his negotiating interview: “Now that I know it’s legal to own, I would very much like to buy this. There are many WWII collectors out there. one of those rare items that doesn’t come too often. “But will Craig’s rating of the Model 89 knee mortar be too high for Rick to pay?
Rick is afraid of losing money on knee 89 Model 89
With the legality of buying model 89 knee mortar cleared, the second most important question for Rick is this: How much is it worth? Craig says the four-digit serial number on this knee mortar indicates it was an earlier model, which made it more valuable. However, he notes that although you can find Model 89s listed online for $ 5,000, they usually do not sell that much. Craig says he would estimate the value of this model 89 knee mortar at $ 2,000, adding: “If I sold it, I would ask $ 1,995 – and probably get it.”
After he leaves, Rick and Mike enter into negotiations. Mike knows he will not get $ 2,000 if that’s the price Rick would want to sell it at – this would not allow the pawnbroker to make money – but when Rick offers $ 1,100 for it, Mike is bummed , which he had hoped for considerably more. So he counts on $ 1,500, and the two eventually settle for $ 1,250 for Knee Mortar Model 89 – $ 50 higher than Rick had said was his ceiling. It was clear that he really wanted that weapon.
It will probably be a slightly slimmer profit than what Rick wanted to get out of the deal, but with an estimated net worth of $ 8 million, we think he’s fine.