'American Pickers' hope to collect items, Ford City history
When they were kids, Jeff Mantini and some of his brothers found a couple of old tubas that had been thrown out into an alley.
They shined them up and started to play.
"We were blowing those big tubas," said Jeff Mantini.
Until someone had enough of the blare and took the horns away.
"We were always 'trash pickin,'" he said. "We were always collectors."
The Mantini boys knack for picking out valuable historical stuff by rummaging through someone else's junk all their lives has served them well.
Jeff, Roch, Eric, Dennis and the rest of the family's collections kept in the former Sokol Club building along Sixth Avenue, in some of their homes and in the basement of the Mantini Funeral Home has caught the attention of the History Channel's "American Pickers" TV show.
The show's stars, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, and a production crew paid the Mantini bunch a visit Thursday and today on a swing through Armstrong County hoping to make a find.
Curious onlookers from around town showed up to see what all the mystery was about as the show's producers tried without much success to keep the filming hush-hush.
"They're looking for some characters too," added Jeff.
The popular pickers might be putting the small town of Ford City on the antique-collecting map.
The show, in addition to bringing TV viewers some wheeling and dealing for interesting items, strives to show the history of the area in the items that they bargain for with colorful local swappers like the Mantini family.
In their picking through the Mantini's stash, the American Pickers got a look at one of the oddest and oldest collections in small-town America.
"We don't know what they might want," said Eric Mantini.
Some of the things in the Mantini collection are a Sokol Club marching band bass drum, horns and uniforms from 1905; an ejection seat from an old jet fighter plane; the first commercial outback motor ever made for a motor boat from 1916; a wooden cash register; a 1954 Harley motorcycle; an 1800s paper cutter pitched out by the Leader Times or the parallel bars used by a local female gymnast to train for the Olympics.
"We all have our junk," said Jeff. "We don't really like to sell stuff."
The brothers agreed that if they hope to get Ford City on TV, they'll have to part with something to make sure the show is a success.
"They definitely want the best we have," added Roch.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vendors at the heart of annual folk festival in Kittanning
- Sidewalk sales mark unofficial start of Fort Armstrong Folk Festival
- Fees from transportation bill bolster Armstrong road work
- Sweeney Todd and others hit stage to benefit Ford City Library
- Locals urged to report, not kill honeybees
- Kittanning Elks turns into museum during Fort Armstrong fest
- Kittanning considers restricting dock access
- Armstrong bridge repair more costly than expected
- Rayburn businessman honored for charitable work
- Dying trees removed from Ford City park
- Annual Rural Valley festival kicks off Thursday