TV Ties: Village Has Television, History Connection

NEW BREMEN — For fans of the History Channel’s popular antique show, “American Pickers,” it’s no secret that one of the show’s stars has a soft spot for bicycles, but what may not be so known is when the two pickers find some sort of cycle, they turn to a local museum for some help.

“American Pickers,” which runs new episodes at 9 p.m. on Monday, follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they “pick” barns, basements, junkyards and more searching for antiques across America.

It is noted Fritz likes toys and “anything with an engine,” while Wolfe loves finding bikes, and for approximately a year or so, The Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen has been assisting the show with its bicycle research.

“It just started with an e-mail,” Museum Coordinator Annette Thompson said, noting the museum was contacted by the show. “I’m sure we weren’t the only ones contacted, but we take our e-mails and research very seriously.”

She noted the show — and even with other shows such as the channel’s “Pawn Stars” — has a list of sources for the items they find.

“We’re kind of known in the bike world as experts,” Thompson said. “Whenever they find anything — and the ‘Pawn Stars’ do this, too — they do research. They all have their list of connections.”

Those connections, she said, can help with the details.

“They may know the basics — like there’s a bike company that they find, they may know about the company, but maybe that bike company made 50 different models, they may not know about all the different types,” Thompson said, noting the museum has helped when the two find a bike, a motorized bicycle or a bicycle part. “We help them as far as the details and the dates.”

The museum has also supplied photographs that have been featured on the show, she added.

“Just the fact that they contacted us is a real feather in the museum’s cap,” Thompson said. “They’re always going to be finding bikes.”

The tie, she added, is the history lesson.

“We teach American history here, they teach it through their show,” Thompson said. “You don’t feel like you’re watching a reality show with them, you’re learning. Three or four generations can sit down and watch ‘American Pickers,’ and we get groups of all ages in here — I feel like we have an American history connection with them.”

The Bicycle Museum of American is listed in the credits in the show whenever a bike is featured on an episode of “American Pickers.” So far, Thompson noted the museum has been contacted by the show “at least a dozen times.”

“We’re all here to help each other, and we’re willing to help people with their research — not just the ‘American Pickers’ but even the average ‘Joe the plumber,’” Thompson said. “We get calls from people around the world.”

When visitors stop by The Bicycle Museum of America, they will also see a few illustrations done by New Bremen artist Ryan Tinnerman.

“When people come in, they see the pictures,” Thompson said. “‘American Pickers’ is huge right now — they have been at least for the past year around here. They (the pictures) get the conversation started, and we can point them out because it comes up in every tour.”

Tinnerman’s work features illustrations of Wolfe and Fritz, as well as of Danielle Colby Cushman who is noted in the show “holding down the fort” at Antique Archaeology when Wolfe and Fritz are out picking.

“I did them because I’m a fan of the show,” Tinnerman said of the illustrations. “I love history, and I love antiques — it’s a no-brainer.”

Tinnerman, who is a freelance artist, said he sent the pickers copies of the illustrations.

“It was well worth it because it helps gets my name out, plus they got a kick out of it,” Tinnerman said. “They sent back autographed pictures.”

Wolfe even drew Tinnerman his own illustration.

“It’s definitely a fun show for everybody,” Tinnerman said of the show.

All the connections, Thompson noted, are beneficial for everyone involved.

“It’s ongoing, and it’s fun,” she said. “It’s exciting for New Bremen and the bike museum and Ryan.”