Many of us have old, unwanted items hanging around our lofts. And those who do all like to think that maybe – just maybe – there’s hidden booty buried under all that junk. But – in the case of these TV treasure hunters – loot can turn up in the most unexpected places. Indeed, their epic discovery might make you consider raiding your own attic.
If you’ve ever watched the History channel, you’ve no doubt stumbled upon American Pickers. Featuring antique collectors Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, the series began in 2010. And the pair’s seven-year search for elusive collectibles has earned them as many fans as serious sales.
Much like reality rivals Storage Wars, the series follows Wolfe and Fritz as they hunt down hidden treasures to sell off at an eye-watering price. Sometimes their diligence doesn’t pay off. For example, the pair famously lost a hefty sum on an $8,000 train set in a memorable 2012 encounter.
Through the course of their travels, the duo have discovered that looks can often be deceiving. To wit, what may at first seem valuable can often turn out to be fool’s gold. Conversely, the opposite is often true – the most expensive items can often be hidden away in the most unassuming of places.
By all means, that was the case when the pair came across one Michigan home in 2014. After meeting with its owner Brian, Wolfe and Fritz were escorted towards an attic. There within the humble surroundings, they found something all collectors hope to see – a treasure trove just waiting to be raided.
Before their very eyes lay piles upon piles of boxes seemingly stretching out towards infinity. Resembling more an archivist’s store room than a neighborhood loft, the room left the series’ stars in awe. “I just want to do a belly flop into this stuff,” commented Wolfe to his equally ecstatic co-host.
Thanks to the abundance of boxes, Wolf and Fritz both had a hard task on their hands. Indeed, it could take hours – even days – before they found the loft’s biggest stash. Speaking to camera later, Wolfe admitted that, “Right then and there I knew that me and Frankie were in for some serious digging.”
Naturally, the reality stars dove into the fray and gleefully started rummaging through Brian’s belongings. Despite their enthusiasm, they found few knick-knacks worthy of their time. Nevertheless, Fritz remained in high spirits. “Keep looking, it’s here,” he told his colleague.
Though the attic had plenty of space, Wolfe remained fixed in one particular location. “I keep hovering over this spot,” he said, while standing in a dark and dusty corner of the room. It seemed that the collector’s antique instincts were honing in on something hidden out of sight.
“That pile kept calling me back,” Wolfe explained after his and Fritz’s antique spree. “I knew there had to be something in there.” Moving some tattered boxes out of the way, the star delved deeper into the fray. What was it that he was going to find?
While his co-star was busy searching, Fritz let out an excited scream – he had found some prized possessions. Digging through a box of pearl necklaces, the collector said, “I got more costume jewelry here than Claire’s does.” But it wouldn’t prove to be the Eldorado the two were looking for.
Just as Fritz was finding his fortune, Wolf had discovered his own set of jewels. But there was something different about this load. “Oh, Frank,” he chuckled, “you don’t even know costume jewelry.” And as he pulled a box of belongings from the bottom of his pile, Wolfe couldn’t help but gloat, “I’ve just found the mother lode.”
Within his hands, Wolfe now held an unassuming cardboard box. However, a treasure chest might have been more appropriate for all the booty that lay inside. Indeed, the collector couldn’t help let out his inner buccaneer, “I feel like a pirate, dude. ‘Arrrrgggh, the treasure.’”
Inside the cardboard container were all manner of old and presumably valuable antiques. Besides a deluge of pearl necklaces, the box also contained a wealth of additional accessories such as bracelets and pendants. By all means, it was the pay dirt that the pair of presenters had so dearly hoped to find.
It wasn’t just Wolfe and Fritz who were pleased with the turnout. Left at home in the pair’s headquarters in Le Claire, Iowa, was there colleague and co-star Danielle Colby and Wolfe knew the pieces would appeal to her sense of style. “Danielle’s always beating into my brow to bring more chick picks back to the shop,” he admitted.
Of course, the collectors were spellbound with the jewelry and wasted no time in asking its owner for a price. While the container’s contents seemed to be worth a fortune, Brian was happy to part with it for a fraction of the cost. In fact, all he asked for was a comparatively meager $50.
Though Wolfe and Fritz were ecstatic about the find, it seems that Brian couldn’t see the jewelry as anything more than junk. “I was very surprised that Mike got excited about all that costume jewelry,” he told the camera after the sale. And he continued, “I was glad to sell it to him… I think I did well today.”
But unbeknownst to Brian, his belongings were worth more than he gave them credit for. Amazingly, Wolfe theorized that they could make ten times what they originally paid by putting it to auction. “I think if we get it back to the shop, Danielle untangles it and cleans it up and sorts it out, we could maybe get $500,” said Wolf.
This isn’t the only time that American Pickers has reaped fortunes from seemingly worthless items. Back in 2010, the pair paid out $700 for banners from an old carnival sideshow. After an appraisal, the team sold them for a staggering $5,000.
Nevertheless, this figure pales in comparison to the 1,000 percent payout Wolfe, Fritz and Colby would have gained from the sale. All in all, it demonstrates the remarkable potential that many household relics secretly hold. So next time you’re thinking of throwing away old, unwanted items, remember just how much they might really be worth.