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‘American Pickers’ Star Mike Wolfe Mourns Passing of Close Friend

By Taylor Cunningham,

(Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

Mike Wolfe honored his late friend and mentor, Elmer Duellman, with an entire episode of American Pickers on January 18.

Duellman, who owned Elmers Auto & Toy Museum with his wife, Bernadette, died in August 2019. After Duellman’s passing, Wolfe paid tribute to him in a Facebook post. In it, he explained that the two had been close for 25 years. And he fondly remembered Duellman as being “a big kid at heart.”

His friend was the largest collector of pedal cars in the country with over 600 in his possession, and Duellman had taught Wolfe much of what he still brings to the screen today.

“Elmer shared his knowledge of classic cars and antique toys with me when I first started pickin’ all those years ago,” he wrote at the time. “He was always there support to me and answer my questions — something I always appreciated.”

“I believe as collectors, we have the responsibility to honor the items and pass along their stories to the next generation,” he added. “Elmer lived a similar truth.”

Mike Wolfe and the ‘American Picker’s Team Sorted Through the Collector’s Most Prized Possessions

Over three years later, Duellman’s family asked Mike Wolfe to do a final pick of the Wisconsin-based museum, and Wolfe eagerly agreed.

As he explained in an Instagram post ahead of the “bittersweet” installment’s debut, the American Pickers team got a call asking Wolfe and his brother Robbie to “go thru some things that he [ Duellman] stored for years.”

Along with pedal cars, Duellman and his wife had spent 60 years also collecting toys and automotive memorabilia. Those items made it into his museum, which ended up shutting down in 2022.

As WXOW reported, the episode was filmed in September, just before the family held a massive auction that brought in a staggering $8.5 million dollars. Wolfe had the privilege of sorting through Duellman’s most prized items before everything else went on sale.

During the episode, Mike Wolfe takes an emotional trip through his cherished memories with Duellman and offers stories from his friend’s life.

“I’m excited to tell this man’s story thru the items that we find. It’s an inspirational one that I’m proud to share,” he wrote in his post.

Along with the caption, Wolfe posted a photograph that offers a glimpse of Duellman’s massive toy collection.

If you missed the episode, you can catch it on Hulu live or Philo with basic subscriptions.

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