The Best Find On American Pickers Season 2

When creator, Antique Archeology shop owner, and reality TV star Mike Wolfe's antique-hunting series, "American Pickers," debuted on the History Channel in 2010, few could have imagined that the oddly addictive show would amass a following strong enough to keep it in production for over 20 seasons. Nevertheless, that's exactly what happened. Despite the series going through a few growing pains and losing one of its main cast members with the departure of Frank Fritz, new episodes continue to air each week. 

In the series' early seasons, the sibling-like dynamic between shop manager Danielle Colby and co-pickers Mike and Fritz makes for compelling television, as do the unique and often eccentric collectors that the crew meets as they comb the American countryside in a quest to find treasure amongst what many perceive as trash. While the pickers have struck their fair share of gold over the course of 23 seasons, not all finds are notable solely for their monetary value. Every now and then, the team comes across a find too unique and memorable to pass up, despite the fact that it's unlikely to make them much money. Such is the case for one of Season 2's best finds — an unassuming triptych that Mike and Fritz stumble across accidentally. 

In "Hobo Jack," a cold call results in a surprising find

Season 2, Episode 9 is a big one for fans of the series, not least of all because it introduced the "American Pickers" audience to legendary collector Jack Sophir, better known as "Hobo Jack." The episode begins with Danielle informing the (now-defunct) dynamic duo that their books are in pretty rough shape, and they desperately need to find a big-ticket item if they hope to stay out of the red. The pressure to turn a hefty profit is still on when Mike and Fritz, after seeing some antique beer signs in a small town in Illinois, enter the eclectic workshop of a store owner and surprise collector named Ken.

After breaking the proverbial ice with a few inexpensive urns, Mike turns his attention to an intriguing item hanging on the wall: an old wooden frame containing three turn-of-the-century antique photos of women dressed in an odd blend of fencing attire and Victorian garb. In the photos, the women are either seated on, standing near, or propping one leg up on a corner chaise, and though there's nothing particularly scandalous about either their aesthetic or their expressions (at least, not by today's standards) there is something subtly seductive about the scene and their positioning within it. 

Episode 9's antique erotica stands out for several reasons

For starters, the hem of their dresses stops at the knee or just below, revealing their stockinged legs. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the "midi" wasn't exactly in fashion — hemlines that didn't hit the floor weren't just rare, but unheard of (via Women's History Network). What's more, the women are holding fencing swords, dominating the interior space, and propping or crossing their legs in a slightly suggestive manner. Clearly, these aren't just old photographs: they're antique erotica, and rank among the six oldest items ever to be "picked" on the series (via History).

Though the find costs Mike and Fritz just $25 — and is overshadowed in the episode by the team's introduction to Hobo Jack — it remains one of the season's coolest finds. As "American Pickers" fans know, the team prefers to connect with leads in advance, as opposed to "free styling" or cold calling collectors on their hunts. They happen upon Ken somewhat accidentally, and despite Fritz explaining to viewers that non-vetted collectors are rarely willing to sell things right away (much less at a price the team deems reasonable), Ken's circumstances fit the duo's needs perfectly. Since the small-town Illinois shop owner is hoping to move to Florida, he's more than willing to sell. 

The combination of kismet, quirk, and unexpected history involved in the pick — not to mention its record-holding age versus many of their more expensive finds — makes Episode 9's "salacious" triptych one of the best and most memorable bargains of the show's second season.