American Pickers is an American reality television series that premiered on January 18, 2010, on History channel, and produced by A&E Television Networks, in collaboration with Cinefix Productions.
The show follows antique and collectible pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel around the United States. Originally in a Mercedes Sprinter van, and later a Ford Transit, the series showcases these two as they "pick" various items, either for resale, for clients or, on occasion, for adding to their own personal collections.
Danielle Colby runs the office of Wolfe's business, Antique Archeology, from their home base in Le Claire, Iowa, and later at a second, newer location in Nashville, Tennessee, while Fritz sells his acquisitions at his shop, Frank Fritz Finds, located upriver in Savanna, Illinois. The men go on the road, not only following up leads that Colby has generated, but also "free-styling," that is, stopping at places that look like they might hold items worth buying. They also pick some places more than once.
The series introduction is narrated by Wolfe and Fritz. The first three seasons used the complete opening. Beginning with season 4, a shortened version is used. The narration now says, "I'm Mike Wolfe. And I'm Frank Fritz. And we're pickers. We travel the back roads of America looking to buy rusty gold. We make a living telling the history of America...one piece at a time." Wolfe and Fritz explore people's homes, barns, sheds, outbuildings, and other places where they have stored antiques and collectibles. They call upon casual collectors, hoarders, and occasionally people who have inherited overwhelming collections of apparent junk. Wolfe, who has been picking since age four, has a particular interest in antique motorcycles, air-cooled Volkswagens, old bicycles, and penny-farthings, while Fritz has a fondness for antique toys, oil cans, and old Hondas. In December 2011, American Pickers revealed that Antique Archaeology had leased a former 1914 car factory in Nashville, Tennessee, which originally made the Marathon automobile, for a second business location to decrease the distance required to haul their finds from the southern states.
The premiere episode of American Pickers had 3.1 million viewers, making it the highest rated History channel debut since Ice Road Truckers in 2007. Season 2 premiered June 7, 2010, with the September 8, 2010 episode "Laurel & Hardy" garnered ratings as high as 5.3 million viewers in the 25–54 age group. As of that episode, the show retained the title of #1 new non-fiction series of 2010 among all viewers and adults between the ages of 25-54 years old. American Pickers has been praised for its use of redesigning the old and antique items that litter many people's homes, items that would otherwise go wasted and taking up space in the garage. This show serves as a means of transforming the old into something new and useful, something that won't sit in the garage for the rest of its life gathering up dust and mold. Moreover, the show provides useful information on the worth and value of items that are considered antiques.
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