I am willing to bet that a substantial majority of readers of the American Pickers Guide to Picking will be comprised of people who already avidly follow the American Pickers television show on the History Channel. The size and loyalty of that group certainly bodes well for Hyperion, the book’s publisher. Those same readers are, however, likely to be disappointed by the book when they figure out that it offers very little new material to devoted fans like them. For instance, about the only new thing that I, as one of those fans, learned from the book is the exact nature of the business relationship between Mike and Frank, an arrangement never made clear in the television series.
As a group, pickers seem to be born with super-exaggerated “collecting genes” that usually become obvious at an early age. We all remember, or might have even been, the kid who amassed a huge collection of comic books, baseball cards, marbles, or dolls and became, by default, the neighborhood expert in his specialty. Not surprisingly, that kid usually grows into an adult collector of equally impressive, but much more expensive, adult toys: antiques, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, advertising signs, and most anything between.
Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, friends for more than thirty years now, were two of those kids. As a small boy, Mike scavenged anything he could turn into a buck or use in trade for something better. At the same time, Frank was putting together what sounds like an impressive collection of the beer cans of his childhood era. The boys, who never would have dared dream they could someday make their livings as “pickers,” do exactly that today - and have become television stars in the process.
Mike and Frank use Mike’s Antique Archaeology store (in Iowa) as the home base from which they travel across the country by van in search of those oddball items they can double or triple their money on by reselling to serious collectors. American Pickers Guide to Picking is filled with tips that include everything from how to recognize promising road stops, to how to deal with the eccentrics who have spent a lifetime accumulating outbuildings filled with piles of “farm fresh” goodies they often have to be talked into finally letting go.
Longtime fans of the show will be most intrigued by the personal philosophies offered by Mike, Frank, and their Girl Friday, Danielle Colby. Danielle, the heart and soul of the Antique Archaeology store, mans the home front and is instrumental in doing the research that makes it possible for Mike and Frank to stay on the road as long as they do. These three are the dream team of picking and they make it all seem like so much fun that the rest of us long to join them in the profession. Writer Libby Callaway has worked with them to produce an interesting book that will appeal both to their television fans and to those who might seriously be considering a move into the field of American picking. Just be aware that American Pickers Guide to Picking is not so much an actual guide to picking as it is a tribute to what is perhaps the finest “reality” show on American television.
Rated at: 3.0