Since its inception, American Pickers is History’s longest running show. On its premiere date, the show had 3.1 million viewers-- the network’s highest rated debut since Ice Road Truckers.
American Pickers instantly attracted people across the nation, gaining more viewers along the way. For example, their “Laurel & Hardy” episode had 5.3 million views. Part of their success is due to the community that they develop during their road trip and the history behind the vintage items that they find. The show would post the next location they were set to visit, as well as a list of the items they wished to find, and thus, along the way, would meet a variety of different people.
The pickers scour across the nation to find different pieces of American history, whether they be sets of cheap dolls from the early 1900s or invaluable items like a Harvey Davidson motorcycle.
Though their segments are devoted to junk diving for new items or examining different aspects of pop culture history, the pickers are goofballs on and off-screen. Occasionally, cameramen would be around to take snapshots of their wacky antics. The pickers themselves even occasionally post their embarrassments moments online and forget that these images still linger on the net.
Here are the 15 Pictures The Guys From American Pickers Don't Want You To See.
15 High School Yearbook Photo
High school photos are kept deep below the subterranean depths in the attic. They are only ever brought out once in a blue moon or during a high school reunion. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, at one point, posted their yearbook photos on social media, which drew a few internet crowds.
Some of them were surprised to see a beardless Frank who sported curly hair locks, and others were shocked to witness Mike with a bob haircut. A few users actually placed their yearbook photos on eBay, as there is a market venue for celebrity yearbook photos online and serious collectors often pay good money for them.
Interestingly enough, they both went to the same junior high school in Bettendorf, Iowa. While they never partnered up in high school, Mike and Frank had been picking well before they co-founded Antique Archaeology.
Mike and Frank were natural born pickers in their teens, collecting items of interest and discovering the secrets behind them. Little did their high school-selves know that they would eventually form a partnership and create TV show based on their hobby.
14 ~4. Roller Derby
Danielle Colby doesn’t simply keep tabs on the American Pickers home base, she also has a variety of hobbies of her own. In fact, she is a former professional Roller Derby athlete. Before she settled for burlesque, Danielle was part of the Big Mouth Mickies team, acting as their manager.
The team comprised of Irish ladies who wanted to try roller derby. They managed to snag a win against their rivals, the Quad City Rollers. Danielle eventually retired from the sport due injuries, however, and the team disbanded after three years. It's surprising that the Big Mouth Mickies were around for as long as they were, since it’s common that roller derby athletes retire early due to the sport’s intensity.
This group image shows Danielle and her gal pals in their team outfits ready to take on the heat. These were the same team members that followed Danielle and helped her found the Burlesque Lé Mustache, a theatre troupe also owned by Danielle.
13 Laurel And Hardy
In season 2 episode 10, Mike and Frank encounter a vintage collector, and among the good hauls, they discover Laurel and Hardy masks– and, thankfully, the masks are in good condition. They were so well-preserved that the pickers put them on and include them in their Laurel/Hardy collection.
The Laurel and Hardy duo are American treasures known for their slapstick humor in film. The "Cuckoo’s Song" became their branding song. Together, they starred over 107 films ranging from silent films to feature length sound films. Laurel and Hardy continued their routines on stage after they retired from the film business.
During their brief stay, Mike and Frank performed on stage for the two. Mike and Frank later bought them at a bargain price of $60 with no intention of reselling. Post credits of the episode reveal the two wearing the masks while giving Danielle a job review before deciding if she deserves a raise.
The show would later coin Mike and Frank as the "real Laurel and Hardy" and it became a common joke to refer the pickers as the comedic duo.
12 American Pickers: The Parody
American Pickers has been around for seventeen seasons, so it's not not a surprise to find out that a few fans have spoofed the show. Pixies Production Inc. created a parody of the reality series, recreating the set design and car so that they were identical to the original.
Their impersonation of Mike and Frank is... interesting, to say the least. The actors who portrayed Mike perfectly mimicked his speech and spontaneity, while Frank's actor had several issues that he tried to deal with. The show devotes its time to uncovering historical pieces of Americana, but the spoof shows them buy something else entirely. Also, Danielle's character is hyperbolized without much thought into the parody.
At best, it’s low brow humor that tries to be funny. In fact, a few users probably got a good kick out of it. However, Mike and Frank probably wouldn't want anyone to see this parody due to its poor treatment of the picking business.
11 Scandalous Pulp Illustration
Mike and Frank tend to find weird and obscure pieces of history on the road, but one particular erotica piece went way too far. In “Going Hollywood”, the duo find a collection of disturbing paintings.
Mike and Frank uncover a set of original and signed Bruce Minney paintings in Les and Lorretta’s warehouse. Minney was a prolific illustrator for Men’s Pulp Magazines for a good portion of his life before moving onto drawing book covers for publishers.
It’s a great find, but the subject matter is certainly controversial. The painting depicts a partly shown man who is about to brand a Nazi sign onto a woman who is chained up. This is a painting that no one wishes to depict publicly in their home, let alone admit to own. Mike would never want his wife or kids to see this image. When the paintings were appraised, Lauren, the store manager in Nashville, called it the image a “trifecta of filth.”
It’s interesting as a historic piece, as it is proof that this kind of adult erotica used to be a thing and that the Nazis were the universal icon of evil.
10 Frank’s New Replacement
We're sure that Frank wouldn’t be pleased if a mannequin became the new co-host of the show. However, thankfully the mannequin isn't actually after his job. After finding this antique, Mike and Frank decided to upload the photo as a tease-- as one of the many jokes that the two constantly make behind the scenes.
This isn’t the first time Mike and Frank have made deals on mannequins, though. The pickers met with Tommy and Joe and secured a Flapper mannequin for $75. Sometimes people would find doll oddities at the picker’s home base.
However, these items were often cut out of the show entirely. In an interview with Hoopla, Frank said that the production would sometimes skip some of their funny jokes that might have gone against the network’s standards. Almost 80% of their adventures don’t make it past editing, much to Frank’s disappointment.
Frank and Mike are still on the road, so it's important to note that they have no intention of replacing any of the co-hosts... at least for the time being.
9 Mike’s Collection Of Dentures
Whether they used to be profitable items or are stored together in case someone is in need, a jar full of dentures is not what everyone wants to see. In one episode, when the guys were on the hunt for a rare 1936 Ford Coupe, they decided to take a few breaks and visit a few couples along the way.
During these visits, Mike wound up buying a few sets of dentures-- these oddities are strange even for normal junk collectors, since, let's be honest, they have been in someone's mouth.
Mike posted an image on Twitter, and comments were split between fans being oddly fascinated and simply grossed out. Mike admitted that he bought the dentures out of pure curiosity, but not all fans understood this, with most finding them blatantly disgusting.
However, dentures also have an extensive history in the US. In fact, President George Washington had his own set of false teeth which he used to wear. However, contrary to popular the belief that they were made out of wood, Washington wore an expensive set made out of hippopotamus ivory. Dentists later went on to create pairs out of porcelain for better flexibility.
8 Buick Tracksuit
Mike’s home collection includes a number of vintage car racing suits that date back in the early to mid-1900s. Mike reached a deal and got one of the suits at a bargain price of $50. It is highly likely these suits were all previously worn by car racers.
Someone on the team managed to snag a photo of Mike wearing a Buick auto suit that was found in Kyle’s barn. While it was shown briefly in the show, there’s actually more to the story behind the suit.
The company name, Pieri Motor Sales Inc., is included on a patch on the back of the suit, which is an old car dealership that goes back to the early automotive days. Back then, auto dealers weren't as well off as the car dealerships of today, as there was little consumer faith in car companies due to the general lack of rules when it came to making and selling cars.
Thankfully, car dealerships like Pieri Motor Sales eventually had to settle for stricter rules that we now see today in all cars, which tells consumers the mileage, suggested retail price, and general components used in creating a car.
7 Explicit Knock off Doll
Another bizarre item added to Mike’s bizarre collection of sorts is a carnival knock down doll. Knock down dolls were common during the early days of traveling carnivals. Most would venture across the Midwest, bringing various games for locals to enjoy for a temporary period. These dolls would be used for classic knock down games, hence their name.
Vintage carnival dolls were handmade, and thus it’s rare to find one of these toys in perfect condition. They are viewed as being one of a kind by most collectors, since the unknown artists often made each one a bit different from the last, therefore making each one relatively unique.
Carnival artists even went so far as to craft Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito dolls during WWII, which individuals enjoyed knocking down. However, these dolls were typically hand painted clowns.
In "Guys and Dollhouses", Mike revisited Frank’s place– not the co-host, another Franke– and bought six of these dolls for $100. At market value these dolls can be sold in a bundle for $300 and, depending on the customer, could reach even higher prices.
6 The Show’s Name
The name American Pickers wasn’t just a five-minute idea sprung from History’s executives who tried and tested various ideas before electing the one. In fact, Mike posted a rare throwback about the show’s name and how it came to be known American Pickers.
Right at the bottom of the page, Mike drew wings on the name "American Pickers," and indeed their little show soared high above their expectations. Commenters could see the shelved names, which some have argued were even better than the current title.
We’re just glad they didn’t pick the some of the other tentative names, such as "Vintage Recycle" or "Vintage America," which sound like names of a boutique shop.
Putting the show together took far more work than merely selecting a name. Mike showcased the show to a number of networks. This process went on for a few years, with some of them dropping the idea during the middle of talks.
Eventually, History gave him the greenlight, but Mike wanted to ensure that the network wouldn't back down and had his lawyer to iron-out a contract. After seeing the final result, we're sure that both the network and Mike couldn’t have been happier.
5 Danielle Coby's Many Poses
American Pickers isn’t really American Pickers without Danielle, the no-nonsense burlesque dancer who is generally considered as the heart of the show by many fans. After all, she often gives the boys new leads and helps Mike and Frank find memorable items. One time, she received a tip of a KISS depot collection-- Frank’s favorite band-- and helped them uncover a number of priceless cars.
In one instance, the series showed her compiling a detailed report on their revenue, making a point that they dismissed a large number of leads because there’s a lack of pickers on the field. She then decides to get down and dirty and goes on the field with a fellow friend.
Danielle is blunt and straight to the point whenever Mike and Frank make mistakes, instantly correcting them on the spot. The trio mutually respect each other and are close confidants. However, Danielle has posed for more than a few "scandalous" images that can be found scattered across the web.
4 The New Gunslinger
You may already know that Mike nearly left Frank for a Mannequin, as mentioned above, but it is little known that he also nearly left him for a real assistant.
In this image, Mike is the new gunslinger in town. Aside from trekking across the US for new treasures, the pickers often like to catch some down time where they can relax and enjoy themselves. This small snapshot of a Wild West-themed cast is a result of one of these breaks.
However, it is very noticeable that Frank is missing. Mike is dressed in a smart Western outfit-- he might as well star in the next Dark Tower movie or any other Western film. However, instead of posing with Frank, Mike is seen standing next to a fellow colleague.
Judging from the photo, the costume are Victorian Vintage. Although not much about the photo is known, it’s likely that the photograph was taken at a Gettysburg photography shop. It's unknown why Frank is missing, but we do know that there's a new sheriff in town, and he may be Mike's new partner in crime...
3 Frank’s Tin Hat
If Mike can try on a Buick auto suit, then Frank wouldn’t miss a chance to try on his own weird outfits and accessories, which includes a stylish tinfoil hat.
On the road, the pickers visited Dr. Evermor’s sculpture garden. This garden provided them with a plethora of interesting and derelict items that were worth fortunes. During this visit, Frank also discovers a must-have for any fashionista.
The aluminum hat looks liked it may have come out of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. At a glance, we wonder if it’s actually aluminum or a rare junkyard piece from the early 1900s-- perhaps aluminum hats used to be all the rage.
The episode never showed Frank wearing the hat, but apparently, the area where they were scavenging actually has a variety of handmade hats. The Forvertron park houses some of the best steam punk artwork done by Tom Every (Dr. Evermor) and a cool Aluminum Foil Hat Area, where they have a personal contraption that can create foil hats for visitors (and conspirators).
2 Mike Riding A Giant Bird?
Dr. Evermore’s sculpture park has some of the most obscure, yet fascinating objects made out of old junk. In ‘The Doctor is In”, Mike and Frank get a lead from Danielle about the sculpture garden, which is just across from highway 12 in Wisconsin.
They expect to find a normal haul of random curiosities and a few items of vintage junks for their shop. However, they never imagined finding a giant time machine Forevertron at the center of the park, as well as some delicate bird statues-- as seen above-- scattered throughout.
These steam punk-styled birds caught the pickers' attention and both were equally impressed by their designs. Frank and Mike also managed to acquire a large collection of vintage goods. At one point, Mike hopped onto the back of the statues and someone was able to take a snapshot of the majestic moment.
As for the birds themselves, Frank was able to buy one of the smaller statues for $100. The larger birds were priced between $8,000 and $60,000.
1 ==9. Call For Phillip Morris
Remember this guy? Philip Morris-- not to be mistaken with Phillip Morris from the I Love You Phillip Morris film that starred Jim Carey-- was the first item that Mike and Frank ever bought on the show from a fellow collector. The pickers were able to snag the giant model for $750 and brought the ad figure to their home base as a mascot. It’s an important hallmark piece for their TV show.
Philip Morris was part of the cigarette commercial called "Call for Philip Morris". It went on to become one of the major Tobacco companies in the US, reaching the height of its popularity in the early and mid-1900s as the main sponsor of I Love Lucy.
Normally, the ads would run with a Philip Morris boy reiterating the lines, “call for Philip Morris." In recent years, the ad icon retired from the public sphere and the company changed its name to Altria Group.
Can you think of any other goofy behind-the-scenes photos that the cast of American Pickers wouldn't want you to see? Let us know in the comment section!
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