Buying and Selling Antiques| Antique Dealer with 25 years experience reveals insider secrets of buying and selling antiques and collectibles

American Pickers

American PickersUnless you have been hiding under a rock the last couple of years, you are familiar with “American Pickers”, the wildly successful show on the History Channel. People love to go along with the t stars of the show, Mike Wolfe and his sidekick, Frank Fritz as they travel the backroads looking for the hidden treasures in the barns and fields of America. I also have to include the quirky Danielle Cushman, because everyone seems to love her, and Mike says she is the glue that holds them all together. Be sure and check out the new book, American Pickers Guide to Picking. Also, if you would like to catch up to any of the early seasons shows, you can find them all here on DVD.

American Pickers, the Beginning

Mike Wolfe came up with the idea for “American Pickers” and originally thought he could just pitch the idea to someone and the show would be off and running. He found out it wasn’t quite that easy. So he bought a video camera and started filming the picking trips that he and Frank did around the country. When he showed the results to friends and dealers, nearly everyone seemed to love it. Mike’s easy going manner and the way he could so easily interact with complete strangers was what people loved. Most of us love that part of the show. How both Mike and Frank can have so much fun talking to the people they meet on the road. If you think about it, without all of the interaction, it could be pretty boring just watching two guys digging through old barns and warehouses looking for stuff. Throw in the fun personality of Danielle and you have the recipe of a very successful show.

American Pickers, What is a Picker

In the antique trade a picker means different things to different people. I always thought of a picker, who “picked” things for other dealers. They would scour the flea markets, auctions, and the picking you see on “American Pickers” and then sell these things to other dealers. Most antique dealers love the buying part of the business more than anything. We jokingly say it is a sickness or an addiction to buying. But then there is the other necessary part of having to sell those things so we can buy more. So my idea of “picking” for others is appealing. You have a list of dealers who like the kinds of things you buy, so after you have accumulated so much stuff you either contact them and they come to you or you go to them and sell your things. Then you do it all over again.

The guys on “American Pickers” chose to have a store, the now famous Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa. Mike just recently opened a new Antique Archaeology in Nashville, Tennessee. They were originally going to just expand the original store, but found it was too expensive and found it made more sense to open the second store.

I am not as crazy about motorcycles and bikes as they are, but they make even those things interesting. It also shows how valuable knowledge is in the antiques business. How many times have you said while watching the show, “ I would hve never known that was valuable?” That is the reason, that you have to continually learn if you want to succeed in the antique business. That knowledge allows you to make those great finds when you recognize something of value when most others don’t. Thank goodness I have been blessed with the ability to remember things that I have seen before in a book or price guide years ago and recognize something of value sitting in a junk box at an auction or under priced in a store.

Mike and Frank are both well educated in the things they like to pick. They can recognize that part off an old motorcycle that is worth $200 when you or I would never give it a second thought. It is that search for that “pot of gold” that keeps us going. We find it just often enough to recharge our batteries and keep us going. We all have our favorite places to pick and it is fun to tag along with Mike and Frank and see where they take us and what they find. My wife and I used to take people on buying trips to England which was our favorite place to do our picking.

Beside enjoying the show as a fun night of entertainment, see what you can learn. Maybe not about a motorcycle part, but about something you might find while you are picking. Invest in a few books about your field of collecting. See why a certain item is rare and others are not. You never know when you might run across that rare item at an unbelievable price. Here is an example where someone found a fabulous bargain in our store. It was a Fostoria cream pitcher made just for the English market. We had it priced for $9 and we had it for quite a while. We bought it in a box of misc. glass and probably paid fifty pence for it. The customer happened to be the author of a book on Fostoria and was an expert in the field. That little cram pitcher was worth around a thousand dollars at the time. We all remember those stories and try to forget when we over paid for a reproduction thinking it was the real thing, or had a crack we didn’t notice. I can’t remember them showing any of those mistake on “American Pickers”, maybe you can recall an example. If you enjoyed the article, please click on the “Like” button and share it with your friends.

Please leave comments about your favorite episode or the thing they bought that you liked best. Maybe with the new season started, we will have a discussion on each new episode. But remember to catch the latest episode of “American Pickers” each Monday night on the History Channel and reruns other places.

33 Responses to “American Pickers”

  1. Tad downing says:

    I have a front gril to a 58 ford Edsel would you be interested 419 624 2113

  2. dan dekeyrel says:

    I have an uncle that has 2 vintage vespa scooter’s. 1 has factory side car. Both ar in great condition. Dan Dekeyrel. phone # 319 753 2066. emai

  3. michael bagley says:

    Hi my name is michael bagley i have a 1899 holy bible and a1913 holy bible i am trying to see how much its worth if any thang plz cal thanks have a grate day

    • Chuck says:

      The value of the Bibles depends almost entirely on condition and beauty. For example a Bible with a leather cover and brass trim with clasps and many photos in color is a desired Bible and can be woth $300-$400. But one with no brass trim ot other outstanding features is much less desirable and can be worth a lot less. The Bible is the most published book in the world and so there are many choices for people.

  4. Naomi Benson says:

    I have a 1967 Ford Thunderbird Jr. What is it worth?

  5. Marc forman says:

    I have 2 objects you might find interesting. during 1967 I worked for a Chicago Art Gallery. We held an art auction for the
    Chicago 7 to raise money for their defense. I have a framed copy. This is fro 1967. The second item is paper maiche tiger head. It was made by Tiger Morse, she was Mrs. Jackie Kennedy personal dressing assistant and clothing designer. It’s from 1965. If you are interested, I’d love to sell them. hey belong someplace better then my basement. Besides, I might get to meet you. I love your show. Please let me know if you are interested.


    Marc Forman

  6. Dan says:

    I have a case of liquid hose from V.Vivaudou inc 500 Howard st San Francisco, Cal. I think when they were using all the silk during the war they came up with this stuff. That is my guess. Its called Mavis Liquid Hose, Sheer Beige or Dull Bronze.
    Love your show.

  7. erika rubio says:

    I have a Voss that looks very old and different take a look and u let me know what u know about it.and I have recored player and album’s for it and it works would u like to buy them from if yes hit me up 6612010118

    • Chuck says:

      I am not really affiliated with the show. I am just a fan and have written about them and the show. I have visited their store in Nashville.

  8. corey largent says:

    I brought a 1930′s vintage coke cola rocking chair..would like to see what it is worth or sell for a price …

  9. susan says:

    we have a 12″ radio flyer bike that we are interested in selling, don’t know how much it is worth, would you be interested in buying it? 931-259-0772

  10. gabriel says:

    looking for good home my dad left me some fishing polls I’m sure they are rare hand made of bamboo I believe he got in japan around 1958 real long in the box. 480-220-0224

  11. samuel says:

    I would like to sell my 49 gmc I would give you a great deal I’m 22 live in west Virginia my number is 1304 386 4596 I may have other nice antiques and collectibles please give a call I need some money for my daughter’s schooling thanks Mike and Frank

    • Chuck says:

      As I have said in other comments. I am not associated with the show and only wrote a review based on my love of the show.

  12. Kelly says:

    I have a almost all there 1968/69 Big a 7 all but the exhaust curved pipes from motor to mufflers the walls are scored anyone interested

  13. Susie says:

    my husband has a lot of thing he has been collecting for years Tins, base ball memorabilia, Hess trucks he has an old Honda motor cycle I think 1968 all the parts needs to be put together, an old 1985 Gibson les Paul guitar. I also have porcelain Dolls and about 500 precious moments, Hallmark star trek ointments, is this something you would be interested in?

  14. potter says:

    I have girl swinger 20 in, metallic purple banana. seat all original. Does anyone have ideal if worth anything

  15. Wayne says:

    I have a hand stich picture in an old wooden frame made from a war orphan in 1917 in france sent to his mother wondering is it worth anything? If so like to sell.

  16. brent says:

    72 or 73 Chrysler 340 wedge engine

  17. Robert krock says:

    200 juke box
    72ct 70 Honda
    1935mills slot machine

  18. Real says:

    We have lot of antique for sale Wood wagon will old refrerator. Spendinwill old armoire original much more. We like you to come and take a look bye

  19. james martin says:

    have several kiss posters from fair to mint condition and several old board games as well as vintage boy scout morse code toy set also old models in box and very old singer sewing machine that has electric foot pedal.intrested buyers contact

  20. Lori Lotten says:

    I have two old cars in great condition. An original 1965 Chevrolet Impala Supersport and a 1962 MGA serial number 00003. If you’d like to visit the Yellowstone National Park area I’m 56 miles from the East Gate of Yellowstone in Powell, WY. 307-271-1830.

  21. Sharon says:

    I have a very large sign ceasars palace its old I want to sell it.

  22. Betty Clark says:

    I Have an An American Scale Manufacturing Co. Weight Scale. Great Condition. Coin changer works. Been Indoors for 50 plus Years. Tells weight and Fortune. Will take No Less than $850.00. Have to See to Believe. Just for You Guys. Have Hospital bills to Pay. TX

  23. Tom K Olinghouse says:

    Have a duck decoy from the 1800, pluss a Beer Stien collection, that you’ll never see before. Plus a set of Golf clubs from 1923 professional half clubs that you won’t find it ever again. Please let me know what you think and if you’re willing I can take pictures and send you anything you need for information on the items

  24. Larry says:

    Watch all American Pickers episodes as often as possible. I always wonder where someone can find all the items that Mike & Frank pick. Is there a website of any kind (ie: auction, on-line buys, etc.) that a interested person such as myself can view and either bid or purchase any to all of the picks that they buy & then put up for resale?

  25. Ralph Stuller says:

    I found a front flat girl from a old army jeep with the head lights and parking light the only thing missing is one lends off a parking light. It is painted black now but in great shape. Need to about what you might pay for something like that. I am going to be at your lows store about June 19th or 20th. I do not want to bring it if you are not interested. Please let me A S A P. I am going to bring some other things anyway but not the girl unless you want it. Thanks

    • Chuck says:

      I am not associated with the show, just wrote the articles about the show and their stores.

  26. Tom K Olinghouse says:

    Have something that you might want to see or have. I would like to sell it it’s a fruit squeezer from the late 1800s or early 1900s can somebody call me or email me if you’re interested number is 8015928362

  27. Tom K Olinghouse says:

    Want to just see an 1800s or maybe early 1900s fruit squeezy her that I think it’s worth you looking at I can send you pictures, tell me where you think it’s worth

  28. yaffa aronowitz says:

    id like the address and fon number of mike and frank store

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