Weird Things That Happened on American Pickers
When your job is to tour the country — maybe even the world — in search of priceless antiques, you are bound to run into some extraordinary people and items along the way. It takes a special kind of person to collect massive amounts of old collectibles, and some folks and their collections are downright bizarre.
If you watch American Pickers, then you’ve certainly seen some strange stuff featured by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. Let's take a look at some of the weirdest things that have ever happened on the popular show.
Who Is This Mysterious Man?
In 2012, the guys set off to find a particularly peculiar property. It was owned by a man named Ron, who preferred to be known as "the Mole Man." Considering his expansive, 26-room underground lair beneath his enormous aboveground property, the name makes perfect sense.
Come See a Monster!
Sideshows aren't a common sight today for many reasons, but in the past, they attracted crowds from all over the country — sometimes from across the globe. In 2017, Mike and Frank unraveled and unrolled a stunning Fred Johnson sideshow banner featuring classic monsters, such as Frankenstein and Dracula.
A Whole Zoo of Stuffed Animals
Some people think that taxidermy animals are stylish, attractive and respectful. Others think it's an awful practice and loathe the thought of owning a stuffed — literally! — animal. The hosts of American Pickers encountered a veritable zoo of taxidermy creatures in Maine when they got a call from an interested seller.
Don't Let Fame Go to Your Head!
Laurel and Hardy were extremely popular comedians during the early 20th century. Pretty much everyone with access to a newspaper or a cinema knew who they were. In 2010, the guys at American Pickers happened upon some gigantic — and somewhat creepy — Laurel and Hardy full-head masks.
From One Hundred to Zero
One of the most bizarre things to ever happen on American Pickers occurred in 2011 in Rockford, Illinois. More specifically, it happened at Rick's Picks, a museum dedicated to rock ‘n' roll history that is run by Rick Nielsen, the guitarist for Cheap Trick. What was the strange thing that happened? They got a free guitar.
There’s Nothing Quite Like the Original
Stumbling upon an authentic piece of rock ‘n' roll history is way more exciting than finding one in a museum. When Mike and Frank found an old van with the Aerosmith logo painted on the side of it, they wondered if they had just struck rock gold. After calling up a former band member, their dreams came true.
The Yoda You Seek, This Is
Star Wars memorabilia is nearly always a hot commodity. Fans from all over the world are willing to pay substantial amounts of money for the rarest collectibles and the most fascinating pieces of Star Wars history. So, when the guys came across four prototype statues of Yoda, they were ready to make a serious investment.
Mr. Guitar's Guitar Literally Kills
Chet Atkins is at least partially responsible for some of the greatest guitarists of the past century. He was so well-known for his skills and playing that he was often referred to as "Mr. Guitar." When the pickers found a Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar, they happened to be with musician Dan Auerbach, who was able to share some valuable information.
Perfect Mummified Creature for Any Living Room
The age of sideshows produced some bizarre experiences, including plenty of quality fakes and well executed hoaxes. One of the most notable creators of these fake monsters and freakish entities was a fellow named Howard Tate. Most of his remaining exhibits are in museums or private homes, but Mike and Frank were able to find a dusty creature called "the Wolf Boy."
A Wild Creature from Another Planet
When the hosts of American Pickers wandered into the home of a man named Mongo, they had to walk up to a spiritual tower and receive his blessing before continuing. The strange elderly gentleman, armed with tiny rubber chickens that he referred to as "communicators," proceeded to reveal his origin and his dreams.
Mmm, Jell-O from a Wagon
The famous brand of flavored gelatin that we all know and love — or maybe despise — originated back in the late 1880s before the automobile was even invented. As a result, the first distribution centers for the jiggly snack were wooden, horse-drawn wagons. The fact that this hand-painted, wooden example has remained in such pristine condition is mind-boggling.
Ja, It's a Controversial Motorbike
Sometimes, the guys travel to faraway destinations to find the rarest and most priceless items. During a trip to Italy, their plane tickets paid for themselves as soon as they spotted a Zundapp motorcycle. The World War II-era German bike came equipped with a sidecar, and it’s currently a valuable relic from the war that thousands of collectors would love to have.
The Cutest Man with the Cutest Stories
Although this gentleman may not be as unique as Mongo, he certainly did manage to stick out and make an immediate impression on Mike and Frank. Like a little kid showing off to his new friends, the Converse-wearing dude eagerly showed the guys around his place, trying out old toys and gadgets and telling stories about each item.
Hidden Rare Van Bike of England
Another one of the team's foreign adventures had them wandering through a set of English suburbs in pursuit of antique treasures. Although the guys initially only found a garage filled with junk — from floor to bottom, with every single inch covered — they were able to dig through the plastic bags and cardboard boxes to find something worthwhile.
Pick Up That Hot Rod Pick-Up
Hot rod muscle cars have filled the dreams and imaginations of motor-loving men and women for nearly a century. Their lesser-known cousin, hot rod trucks, were once far more popular than they are today. They also happen to look much different than any other vehicle on the face of the planet, making them a truly unique find.
A Leathery License from Another Time
At the beginning of the vehicle boom in the early 20th century, laws concerning motor vehicle usage and licensure were still pretty rare and tended to vary significantly by state. People with automobiles were asked to find a way to show their vehicle's registration information on the exterior of the car, but they weren't given strict instructions.
The Moldiest Treasure on Wheels
The 1963 Corvette with split windows, a sleek body and James Bond-esque style is one of the most prized, collected and expensive vehicles in the world. The one that Frank and Mike found in 2019 looks like a cross between a Corvette and a DMC DeLorean. Unfortunately, the sharp silver paint couldn't mask the Corvette's serious issues.
Why Settle for One When You Can Have Both?
If you've ever dreamed of owning a vehicle that is a half car and half motorcycle, you may want to check out the 1914 Merz Cycle Car — or maybe not. They are incredibly rare, difficult to find and unbelievably pricey. Pat Regis, the owner of the car, claimed his model was one of only two produced by the Merz company.
King of Rock 'N' Roll Lighting
Original Elvis memorabilia is valuable, even though it’s not always hard to find. The number of Elvis-inspired products that flooded the market during the '50s, '60s and '70s is astounding. The only other musical act to ever garner so many product placements and promotional items was The Beatles!
Saying Yes to These Vintage Medicines
Although the medicines contained in these vials and boxes are probably long past their expiration dates, their current value lies more in appearance and sentimental remembrance than anything else. Any person who has ever played a game of Oregon Trail knows a thing or two about Epsom salts, elixirs and sarsaparilla.
Customized Piece of Artwork on Wheels
Mike's love for bikes of all shapes, sizes and conditions — especially older models of Indian motorcycles — means that he immediately understands the worth of a bike, almost as soon as he sees it. When he set eyes on this customized Von Dutch, he nearly lost his mind. With a Harley Davidson frame and VW engine, it's a Frankenstein piece.
The Most Dangerous Toy Ever Created
Chemistry sets were dangerous but fun gifts that adults gave to children once upon a time. They are often remembered as the most hazardous toys ever invented. However, the tether car quickly and efficiently put all children's chemistry sets to shame in terms of possible hazards.
The First Easy-Bake Oven
Although it may be shocking to think about, the Easy-Bake Oven wasn’t the first working toy oven made for small children. Even more surprising, this version found by the guys is made of cast iron and has a nickel finish, meaning that it was extremely hot to touch when operating.
Art for the Brave of Heart
Some of the oldest bits and pieces of forgotten treasures can end up as part of an artist's installation in the future. Larry and John of Northern California are an art-making team that uses a lot of lost pieces to make new things. In the eyes of some collectors, this is the worst possible thing that could happen.
Personalized Aztec Calendar for All Occasions
This Aztec calendar may not be nearly as old as others found in archaeological dig sites, but for the man who received it, it was no less precious. The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico during the late 19th century was given a personalized Aztec calendar upon his resignation. That's right, a coffee mug just wasn't enough to show appreciation for this guy.
Classic Car Hoarder Strikes Again!
When Mike and Frank find a sweet, vintage set of wheels, they almost lose their minds — especially Mike. So, you can only imagine the fantastic range of sounds he made upon seeing an entire warehouse full of beautiful, well-maintained, rare classic cars. Well, you don't even have to imagine it because the producers caught it all on film.
A Tiny Car with Huge Energy
Some of the best sellers on the show are passionate about their collections, and they like to show off whenever possible. This is definitely true of the California couple that sold Mike and Frank a BMW Isetta Microcar in 2014. They called the guys up after getting the car running, as promised, but they had a few surprises.
The Most Dangerous Rocket Ride
Sure, there's Elton John's 1972 hit "Rocket Man," but what about a rocket car? Well, one particularly talented artist/engineer wondered just that and decided to turn his daydreams into a reality. He didn't own just one rocket car; he actually owned several. Just as Mike and Frank were oohing and ahhing over the pieces, he let them drive one.
Naked Frankenstein Robot for Sale
Toy collectors occasionally have some of the most diverse and extensive collections. The owner of several Big Loo toys also happened to own an actual Frankenstein robot that immediately caught the attention of the guys. It was one of the oldest Frankenstein toys ever made, and although it was missing all of its clothing, the face was in remarkable condition.
Land of the Dead Military Convoys
One of the weirdest things that the guys ever got to browse and pick through was a wide range of decommissioned military vehicles. In addition to jeeps, vans and other large utility vehicles, this farm also had a few tanks. It's insane to think that pretty much anybody can go and buy these things, but most of the vehicles were pretty broken down.