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.

14 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 dancathyd@hotmail.com

  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.

    Respectfully,

    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.
    Dan

  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

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