An Officer's Engraved Sword: Frank and Mike are on the road outside Greenville, South Carolina, when shop manager Danielle Colby calls to tell them about Zip, a vet with a huge collection of war memorabilia that spans from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. Just steps into Zip's collection, Mike lays eyes on an 1850 sword etched with floral curlicues and a sharkskin handle that, Zip says, has seen battle because of all the markings on the blade. Zip won't take anything less than $800, and Mike goes in for the handshake to cement the deal.
An Oldie but a Goodie: The 6 Oldest Items That the American Pickers Have Picked
We all know that the American Pickers have a love for everything old: signage, bikes, motorcycles, toys… The list goes on and on! But just how old are some of their most antique finds? For the history lovers out there, we've dug out some of their oldest picks, from 1850s engraved swords to antique bicycles, with a whole bunch from the decades in between. Read on and take a deep dive into the past!
Season 19, Episode 15: Bubba Gump Picks
Season 1, Episode 12: 'Leland's Cafe'
2) An 1880s High-Wheeler Bicycle: "At that moment, I thought, 'I had to have it. I was red hot!'" Mike confesses when he sets his eyes on an 1880s high-wheeler in Wisconsinite John D's jam-packed basement. After Frank breaks the ice on some signage, Mike gathers the courage to ask if John would consider a price for the antique bike. Everything, including the gears, is in good shape, and John asks for $3,000. But Mike is thinking big: His heart is set on the Star bike and also a turn-of-the-century Victor bike he saw back in the barn earlier, so he offers $3,000 for the Star bicycle and $800 for the Victor. A tense moment leads to a double-whammy accepted deal!
Season 2, Episode 9: 'Hobo Jack'
3) A Set of Victorian Erotic Photographs: Mike and Frank acknowledge that it's pretty rare to do a cold call and come across someone who is ready to sell, let alone at reasonable prices. So when they stumble upon Ken in his workshop and storage facility in Illinois during some "freestyling" — the duo's term for when they go rogue and scour the countryside for potential treasure troves without any leads from Danielle — they're quick to pick up a few pieces, including a trio of hand-colored Victorian-era erotic photographs. With their short skirts, red hearts on their chests and swords in their hands, these ladies are looking coyly at their viewers, including Frank and Mike. Ken asks for $25, and Mike agrees on the spot. Another deal done!
Season 4, Episode 1: 'Civil War Pickings'
4) A Spencer Carbine Rifle: Frank and Mike are on a mission in this episode, and it's for a unique client: the Gettysburg Museum of History in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The guys need to find Civil War items to expand the museum's collections, and on that list is a Spencer carbine rifle. Danielle supplies a lead that a former client, J.W., is rumored to have the exact firearm the museum is looking for. Mike and Frank set out to the Maryland countryside for their visit, and get their hands on this gun, which was approved by President Abraham Lincoln for its seven-cartridge design. J.W.'s opening ask is $2,200, but the guys bargain and end up at $2,250 for the gun plus three smaller items, all dating to the Civil War.
5) Civil War Bills: Thanks to a rec from J.W., Mike and Frank are soon on the trail in Maryland, and find Civil War collector Keith at his home. Over the years, he's amassed a collection that includes guns, photographs of President Lincoln and even Confederate money that was produced in the South between 1861 and 1865—one of the Gettysburg Museum's top requests. Keith initially quotes $800 for a counterfeit $10 bill and $400 for a bill depicting Stonewall Jackson. Mike and Frank end up striking a deal: both bills for $1,000, and Keith is satisfied to learn that they will be displayed in a museum.
Season 9, Episode 8: ‘Traders of the Lost Parts’
6) Wisconsin Battle Eagle: In the attic of a red barn in New Jersey—what Mike calls a "honeyhole"—he finds himself face to face with a piece of Civil War folk art. Ken, a former science teacher, has been collecting for more than 30 years, and picked up the Wisconsin battle eagle dating back to the Civil War. Mike notices the piece's Americana theme, with its shield-like shape and its American flag border, and Ken even thinks the feathers are real eagle feathers. For such a unique piece, he's asking $200, and Mike accepts immediately.
WATCH: Want to check out even more of Mike and Frank's oldest picks? Sign in to watch this play list of full episodes.