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'American Pickers' discovers ‘Shock Value’ on History Channel

Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe the American Pickers
Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe the American Pickers
Photo courtesy of History Channel used with permission

Last night's History Channel episode of "American Pickers" was titled "Shock Value," starring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe. The professional pickers that travel across not only the United States, but over the world picking through treasures covered with dust and rust from age, and love every minute of their hunt as cobwebs and dead animals don’t scare them a bit.

As the episode begins, the guys are in Alabama again as Danielle calls them from Nashville. She has a lead for them from a guy named Neil. He has a huge space with lots of stuff, like medical oddities and electronics. They find his place and it is packed from floor to ceiling, and Mike sees lots of opportunities. There is just about everything imaginable in this place. He had a Tesla electro shock machine capable of giving off 100,000 volts of electricity, which is twice that of a police taser. This guy was probably qualified to build Frankenstein’s monster. However, the guys started this deal by selling him a Morse Wave Generator they bought for $50 to him for $200, and he was happy as a clam. He felt that Tesla did not get a fair deal, as little was taught about him in schools, and without him, our world would be back in the dark ages.

Frank found an old traffic light that he got for $200, Neil got it when he was 14, and it probably started his collection. He had a Kellogg chair for constipation; it vibrated when one sat in it, and was invented by the cereal manufacturer, who dabbled in such items. Frank wanted to know if he thought of this before or after high-fiber cereal?

While Danielle was with Lauren in Nashville, they had lots to do. Lauren admitted she gets claustrophobic in the shop at times, so Danielle tried to help her clear some things out. A local businessman expressed an interest in the riveter Mike got in Colorado, so they packed it in the truck and brought it to see if he was interested in buying it.

Still at the first pick, the guys continued to find more and more items the piqued their curiosity. They found a vintage machine that was used in shoe stores to x-ray feet to see if children’s shoes fit properly. When the man got the machine, the health department told him not to make it operational. Early pioneers of radiology often suffered eye problems, hair loss and burns to their hands because of exposure; sometimes the damage was so bad; it required amputations and other surgeries.

Frank then found an old metal toy truck that was not fancy, but had the original parts, he got it for $40. Mike found an anatomical dummy like a jigsaw puzzle that came apart; it was missing one lung, and he got it for $200. Mike found a mechanical knight on horseback, with a switch on the back to make the knight blow a trumpet. He paid $500 because he never saw anything like this before.

When they left Neil, they were sent to see Terry and John Willett, who were ready to sell. But everything the guys liked, was not for sale. Their dream was to put all the stuff together sort of like a tribute to history, but it just laid around collecting dust and rust. Now they are both up in years and it does not look like the dream will happen, but they have such feelings for the stuff; it is difficult for them to part with.

Mike finally got them to sell an old hall tree for $200 and when he asked what the price of a vintage visible gas pump was, he stuck to his guns for $800, and after finding the cylinder that fit around it, after looking all day, Mike got the pump for the asking price.

When Danielle sold the riveter, she asked Matt to check out some old jeans the guys found. One pair was Lee Jeans from 1925. In the 1950s, wearing jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion after James Dean popularized them in Rebel Without a Cause. The jeans were worth about $1,500 on this episode of "American Pickers."

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