Military magazine editor headquarters in Hudson
If you are looking for that special Christmas gift for the man who has everything or is hard to buy for, maybe your source has a Hudson connection.
John Adams-Graf edits Military Vehicles Magazine and Military Trader out of his Crooked Creek Publishing Co. office in the basement of the Hudson Professional Building that previously housed the library.
And, if you have a spare $100,000, the Military Vehicles Magazine can line you up with a World War II tank for that special someone, or for a lot less, an olive drab jeep in working condition.
"At least once a month I get a call about purchasing a World War II tank," Adams-Graf said during a conversation in his cozy office loaded, as one would expect, with military memorabilia.
The enthusiasm usually wanes he said, "After I explain that it takes about $100,000 to buy one, then it has to be hauled and fixed up. Entry level collectors usually start with a World War II jeep. One that runs will cost between $12,000 and $17,000 and it fits in the garage."
The other popular more affordable vehicle is the M37 three-quarter-ton Dodge truck that can be had for between $5,000 and $7,000 and also fits in the garage, he said.
Adams-Graf said there is a nationwide and worldwide market for military vehicles and equipment. "People with a military background or whose family has a military background usually are collectors. They have olive drab in their blood."
The real money is in the replacement parts to fix the vintage military vehicles, he said.
The Military Trader magazine lists advertising for smaller items including helmets, uniforms, outwear and the like. It also features a, "The Jag File," a column by Adams-Graf as well as various stories on military action in a number of wars.
"We are gatherers by nature," he said admitting to being a member of that group, "Collecting is satisfying but it can come very close to an obsession."
Adams-Graf has narrowed his collecting field of interest to items related to the World War I tank corps. A number of uniforms from different units adorn his office along with posters, photos and helmets. He knows the soldier's history behind the uniforms he collects.
He has also published two books on Civil War era collectibles and firearms. The books carry the author's name as John A. Graf. "John Graf is the name I grew up with," he said. "I was married to a woman named Adams and I couldn't pass up the opportunity for the name John Adams," the historian and museum curator said, but his father wouldn't have it. Thus his legal name is now John Adams-Graf.
Graf-Adams, 49, is a native of Caledonia, Minn., where he graduated from high school in 1981. "I was always interested in the military. My dad was a World War II soldier and I enjoyed studying history," he said.
His youth included trips across the river to La Crosse with his father to visit the military surplus store there.
Graf-Adams went on to attend college at UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse, the University of Trier in Germany and earned degrees in history and German in 1984.
He wanted to get another perspective of World War II while attending school in Germany. "I interviewed German World War II vets," he said.
In 1986 he earned an MA degree from Eastern Illinois University in historical administration. He worked on a living history farm in Illinois where he did the actual work of farmers in the 1840s without the advantage of modern machinery.
In 1990 he became curator at the Neville Museum in Green Bay for five years then entered the publishing business in Iola, Wis., in 1995 which led to the military magazines.
"I wrote descriptions and priced items," he said. He moved to Stillwater and opened his business in Hudson last summer.
Among military collectors, Graf-Adams said, "The Civil War, traditionally always strong, is a soft market. World War II items are the strongest market and Vietnam is rising in popularity," he said.
Graf-Adams writes a regular blog on the magazine website, for more information contact militarytrader.com on the web.