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'American Pickers' coming back to Armstrong County in August

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 12:36 a.m.

A pair of guys who travel the country looking to buy rusty treasures and pieces of Americana are making their way back to Armstrong County this summer to film segments for their popular television series, “American Pickers.”

Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, stars of the series that airs on the History Channel, will make their second trip here in August, show representative Sarah Moore said on Thursday.

“Right now, we're trying to get the word out and find people with large collections of stuff,” Moore said. “We're looking for personal collections, not antique shops, because it's a lot more fun to pick through collections that aren't perfectly arranged and organized.”

Wolfe and Fritz visited Jeff Mantini and his brothers at the Sokol Club on Sixth Avenue and in the basement of the family's funeral home in Ford City in April 2012. The episode, titled “Where's Aldo,” aired in August of that year and is scheduled to run again at 2 p.m. July 30.

Mantini couldn't remember what the “Pickers” bought from him, but he knows they didn't leave with a lot of his family's collection. The Mantinis amassed their collection over decades and weren't quick to part with items, especially things with ties to local history like pieces from the defunct Roxy Theater in Ford City.

“We're collectors. We don't really keep stuff so we can sell it,” Mantini said. “We had people calling after the show who were trying to buy stuff they saw them looking at that we didn't sell.”

What Mantini couldn't recall was found by watching a video of the show's Armstrong County episode online: The “Pickers” walked away with an Orange Crush sign for $65, a cast iron printing press for $225 and $100 worth of funeral lights.

Armstrong County Commissioners Chairman David Battaglia, who maintained contact with the show's producers after the first visit, said he knew the “Pickers” would be coming back.

“We had such a good relationship while they were filming,” Battaglia said. “We told them that we have an open-door policy for them to come back again. We see this as an opportunity to show the world that we're a friendly area with a great history and tradition.”

Although their visit was quick, Mantini said he was glad they came.

“It was definitely a positive thing. I didn't realize how big of a following they have,” Mantini said. “Every time our episode is on, people are calling us up to tell us they saw it.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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