It’s Never Too Early to Donate Your Antiques!

Can you believe it?

We are already accepting tax-deductible donations of vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) items for the 2016 Benefit Antiques Auction!

Call Riene right away at 262-363-4700 and let her know what you have to offer!

Chair Drawing

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A Post-Thanksgiving Post

What’s new with Friends? Take a look at your Pillars newsletter to find out! Here are a few highlights:

-Check out page 7 and you’ll appreciate that turkey you just ate even more!

-Ever wonder about the holidays of long ago? Check out where to go to relive it on Pillars page 4.

-Pages 1 and 2 show you what you may have missed in September!

Also, be sure to check out your upcoming newsletters for special dates to hold in your 2015 calendar.

Until next time, fellow history buffs!



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Recapping the Great River Road: Autumn Excursion 2014

The 2014 Autumn Excursion, sponsored by FWHS, traveled the Great River Road along the mighty Mississippi River from September 4-6. The 28 travelers on the excursion enjoyed the fascinating history and beautiful scenery of the river.

Traveling first to La Crosse, the group enjoyed the breathtaking vistas of Grandad Bluff, a personal tour of historic Hixton House, and lunch aboard a paddle wheeler that “locked thru” on the Mississippi. Dr. Frank “White Beaver” Powell mesmerized the group as he told of his life in the “Gateway City” of La Crosse. After heading south and hearing the story of the Black Hawk War along the way, the group stopped for the night in host city Prairie du Chien, where a delicious supper at The Angus Supper Club was followed by Mary Antoine, President of the PDC Historical Society, telling all about the earliest days of her historic hometown.

Day 2 of the Autumn Excursion began with a ride to Dubuque’s Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, followed by a narrated tour of the city of Dubuque and a delicious lunch at the city’s Eagle Point Park overlooking the Mississippi River below. In the afternoon, the group stopped at Moundview Park in Platteville to see a historic reenactment of the War of 1812. A stop at Jamison Museum included a tour of the museum, a descent deep down into a once-working lead mine, a mining tram ride around the grounds, and an interesting presentation on the ethnic settlement of the lead mining region. Back in Prairie du Chien for the evening and after a pasta supper at the motel, the group learned about the 19th century Ho-Chunk Treaties.

The last day of the tour began with Mary Antoine rejoining us for a tour of Prairie du Chien, which included a visit to the oldest house in the city (a fascinating restored French-Canadian log cabin), stops at the oldest cemetery and church in the state, and a tour of the historic Ft. Crawford museum. The group was then led on a personally-guided tour of the magnificent Villa Louis mansion and participated in the Carriage Classic event on the grounds. The excursion then traveled to Cassville for guided tours of several different sites in Stonefield Village and the Governor Nelson Dewey House.

Once again FWHS has hosted a wonderful historic tour of a great part of the Badger State (the name taken from those early lead miners digging their homes in the ground). Thanks go out to FWHS board members JoEllen Hegwood, Frances Kravenik, and Brad Steinmetz for arranging the excursion and making it such a memorable experience for all the participants!

2014-09-04 13.00.10 (2) excursion2014-09-05 13.53.54 (2) excursion CANNON2014-09-05 16.02.55 (2) excursion2014 excursion - FWHS Mem. Frank chats with Twain

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October 3 & 4: The WADA Show Awaits You!

Hello all,

This is just a friendly reminder to attend the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association show on October 3 & 4, 2014, in Waukesha, WI (in the Milwaukee area), where you can find vintage treasures, learn interesting information, and have plenty of fun! This show raises funds to preserve history and provide scholarships. For more information about the show and WADA in general, visit their website or our own recent post about this great organization and opportunity!

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How to Become an Auction Expert

Are you considering coming to the Friends 2016 Benefit Auction (or any auction, for that matter), but nervous because you’ve never been to one before? Don’t worry — let FWHS secretary Philip Schauer guide you through it! Below are Phil’s tips for a successful auction experience.


Before you go to an auction:

-Check your newspaper’s local classified sections for auction listings, especially on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. For more complete and detailed listings of area and regional sales, you may want to subscribe to a publication such as the Jefferson County Advertiser (covering areas east of Madison, WI) or Auction Action News (covering statewide auctions as well as those in Minnesota and Michigan).

-When looking at an auction ad, regard information about an item’s age, authenticity, and condition as speculation only. Auctions are “buyer beware,” so don’t get too excited about a great-sounding item until you’re inspecting it in person!

-If you are planning to attend an auction and bid on items, remember that terms of sale are usually cash or approved check only, and that not all auctions will accept credit cards. Local and state taxes may apply, and some auctions also charge a buyer’s premium (usually 5-10% over the highest bid).

-Auction purchases are expected to be removed the day of the sale, so be prepared to transport anything you might bid on.

-Consult a map; auctions are sometimes in hard-to-find locations and listed with only vague directions, and you wouldn’t want to be lost or late!

-Try to arrive at least an hour before the auction is scheduled to begin so you will have time to inspect the items and register for your bidding number.


At the auction, before it begins:

-If you plan on bidding, visit the clerk or cashier to register for your bidding number. Bring a photo ID, and register early to avoid long lines. Purchases are recorded under these bidding numbers, so keep yours handy and don’t lose it!

-If you are interested in an item, examine it carefully. If you are able to do so, pick it up, turn it over, open it, and otherwise check its functionality, preferably in natural light. Be clear with your intentions, and be sure to put the item back in its place when you are finished; theft is unfortunately not unheard of at auctions, so you must take care to be above suspicion.

-Periodically check back on items you’ve already inspected; other attendees will be handling these items too, and new scratches, chips, and other signs of wear may appear as a result. Keep tabs on the locations of the itmes as well, as the other potential bidders might inadvertently or even unscrupulously move things around. Remain vigilant!

-Ask the auction staffers any questions you have about the items and the order in which they will likely be sold.

-Decide which items you’re going to bid on, and how much you would be willing to pay for them.


During the auction:

-Auction regulars often bid with a variety of signals including winks, grunts, and nods, but a simple signal such as a wave of your number card works best.

-Don’t jump in with a bid right away; the auctioneer will probably lower the starting price of an item if no one responds at first.

-Even with popular items with many people offering bids, bidding usually thins out to just two people. Know your limits, and don’t let yourself bid more than you should in the heat of the moment.

-Sometimes a group of items will be sold as “choice,” meaning that the highest bidder gets to choose which items in the group to buy at the winning price, and the remaining items will be bid on again. If you are interested in only a select item from a choice group, be patient; other high bidders might take some of the other items from the group, thus lowering the total price of the remaining items for you.

-Remember that the auctioneer gets a percentage of the auction proceeds, and as such has extra incentive to push for higher bids. Again, know your limits!

-For efficiency’s sake, don’t hold up a sale with idle chitchat or by having to search for your bidding number. Keep focused!

-Finally, don’t be discouraged if you see items you’d like slip away; patience will eventually prevail…and there will always be another auction. You never know what you might find!

Auctin graphics - vintage


And for those not in the know, here are some terms to remember:

Auctioneer: the licensed conductor of auction sales. Large auctions may have more than one auctioneer selling at a time, so note if the auction ad suggests bringing a “bidding partner” along with you!

Clerks and Cashiers: auction staffers who register bidders, record transactions, and accept the money to finalize sales.

Ringmen: auction staffers who assist during a sale by identifying the item up for bid, and helping the auctioneer check the crowd for bids.

Box Lot: a group of items sold together for one price.

Choice Lot: a group of items bid for together but sold by the piece at that price.

Bidding Number: a bidder’s identification number, printed on a card. Hold it up during the auction so the auction staffers can record your bid.

Century Farm Auction: an auction held at a farm where a family has lived for 100 years or more. A rare event, but one sure to have plenty or interesting items.

Auction Fever: the temporary compulsive feeling that one must outbid all competing bidders for an item at any cost. A condition to be avoided, for sure!

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We’re Wacky for WADA!

Antiques Show Raises Important Funding

for Historic Preservation and Scholarships

October 3 & 4, 2014

Waukesha (Milwaukee), Wisconsin

Ever wonder what happens to the money you pay for admission to an antiques show? If it’s a Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association show, the “gate” funds historic preservation and scholarships within Wisconsin!

Acting since 2009 as the founding and continuing sponsor of the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction (produced by the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society), WADA provides “seed money” for their biennial auctions. The most recent historic preservation project involved window treatments and upholstery at Black Point Estate in Lake Geneva, built in the 1880s by the wildly successful brewer, Conrad Seipp. WADA’s grant dollars were designated specifically to aid in the restoration of a portrait of Mrs. Catharina Seipp, matriarch of Black Point. That restored portrait has resumed its original position in the main entrance of the Victorian summer home. Textile restoration and/or replacement is in the planning stage now that funding is available. In addition, members of the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association helped procure a rare Seipp Brewery advertising stein, now on display at Black Point.

Auction Publicity; Black Point d (2)Auction Publicity; Painting RestoredSeipp Stein (2)

As a public service at their October show, WADA is providing a free booth to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Visitors to the show may bring their donations of items more than 50 years old for the next 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction. Volunteers will be on hand to provide tax deductible receipts for antique and vintage donations.

Other recent recipients of grants from the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association are: Price County Historical Society, Fifield; Israel Stowell Temperance House, Delavan; Rock County Historical Society, Janesville; Richfield Historical Society, Richfield; New Holstein Historical Society, New Holstein; and Hawks Inn Historical Society, Delafield. Click here for details on grant applications, or visit the WADA show.

Scholarships are also a priority with the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association. During the 2013-2014 school year, WADA provided scholarships to high school seniors at Moraine High School, Mukwonago High School and Oconomowoc High School. Click here for details about the 2014-2015 scholarship competition.

Attend the upcoming 63rd Fall Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association Show on October 3 & 4, and show your support for the scholarship and preservation projects so important to our state.

The Waukesha County Expo Center’s Forum Building, 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha, WI 53188, is the home of this event.  Show hours are Friday, 11-9 and Saturday, 10-5. In addition to the good food customers have come to expect, a Friday Night Fish Fry will be served late Friday afternoon and evening, so bring your appetite! Remember, admission of $6.00 funds scholarships for high school students as well as grants to Wisconsin historic and heritage groups. Parking is free, and an ATM is located on the premises. Click here for a $1.00 discount coupon for the show!

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All Aboard for Autumn Excursion 2014!

SEPT 4-6, 2014

This September 4th-6th, enjoy the adventure of a tour along the mighty Mississippi and the Great River Road on the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s annual Autumn Excursion! The trip will feature extensive tours and special historical presentations along the river with stops at La Crosse, Prairie du Chien, Cassville, Platteville and Dubuque. Marvel at the panoramic views from riverside bluffs, take a step back in history with colorful re-enactors, and tour some of Wisconsin’s earliest homes in this unique travel experience!

Highlights of the excursion include:

–In LaCrosse, stops will include the grandeur of Grandad Bluff, historic Hixon House, the Riverside Museum with a visit from Doc Frank “White Beaver” Powell, and a lunch aboard an authentic paddlewheel riverboat on a tour of the river

–Learn about the tragic trail that ended the Black Hawk War and the Winnebago Treaties signed at Ft. Crawford

–Prairie du Chien will feature a tour of the Villa Louis mansion and participation in the “Carriage Classic” held on the estate grounds, a walking tour of this oldest town in the state including stops at the rarely open to the public Francois Vertefeuille House and the oldest cemetery in Wisconsin, a visit to the Ft. Crawford Museum and a supper overlooking the river

–In Dubuque, highlights include a visit to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, a Personal Dubuque City Tour which includes views of the one-of-a-kind Fenelon Place Elevator & historic Mathias Ham House, and a picnic lunch at Eagle Point Park overlooking the river

–The Platteville stop will include a tour down into an actual lead mine at the Rollo Jamison Museum, a presentation on the ethnic settlement of the region, and a special program by historic re-enactors

–At Stonefield, near Cassville, attractions include a working turn-of-the-century family dairy farm, displays of antique farm implements, experiencing the sights and sounds of Wisconsin’s early railroads, and a tour of the grand summer estate of Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin’s first governor

This magnificent and historic Autumn Excursion features deluxe Lamers motorcoach transportation with on-board entertainment, two nights stay at the Country Inn & Suites in Prairie du Chien, most meals (all for FWHS members), and all entrance & site charges and special speaker & presentation fees included in the price of only $535 for double and $660 for single occupancy. An optional Lamers Cancellation Protection Program is available for $45.

Reserve your spot on this fantastic tour now by calling Lamers Tour & Travel at 1-800-236-8687 or 414-281-2002. You can also download and print the registration form and itinerary here: 2014 Excursion Registration & Itinerary. A $125 deposit will save your seat on this wonderful traveling experience – final payment is due by August 1. If you have additional questions about the trip, contact FWHS tour coordinator JoEllen Hegwood at 414-476-4061.

steam boatstuff

carriageup the hill

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June 25th, 2014: Annual Meeting & Adventure into History

It’s a History Mystery Tour!

One fairly common area once set aside in cities is now getting rather hard to find. But it still lives on in the city of Waukesha–and we have the evidence! Famous people were not uncommon in Waukesha–some arriving after they were famous, but some owing a part of their ability to become a leader in their field to time spent in Waukesha. And here’s a clue too…sometimes it wasn’t the person that we remember, but what they left behind!

The Waukesha County Museum, located in downtown Waukesha, exhibits substantiation of the many lives of the area–some of them still mysterious to this day. But maybe WE can crack the code!

To join us on this year’s Annual Meeting and Adventure into History, and to help solve Waukesha’s history mysteries, please print, fill out, and mail in the right side of the info and registration form below!

Annual Meeting 2014

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Hold These Dates!

Have your fill of historical fun with these upcoming events!


June 1st: Model A Day

In Sharon, Wisconsin. Let’s travel back to the 1920’s to honor our WWI veterans! Talk in person with President Coolidge’s VP, Charles Dawes, to find out what was really going on in those stressful times. Call Bev at 262-607-1528 for details.


June 25th: Annual Meeting & Adventure into History

This time around, it’s a History Mystery! We’ll delve into the history of Waukesha, WI, the city of many lives and a few juicy mysteries. Will YOU be able to solve them? More information coming soon!


July 19th: Wheel Fever

Try the High Wheeler or a vintage tricycle! Ride with the Wheelmen at Old World Wisconsin Historic Site. Click here for more details!


September 4th-6th: Autumn Excursion

Explore the Great River Road! Featuring bluff-top views and charming river towns, this excursion offers insight into the many stories, lives, and twists and turns in the making of Wisconsin! More details will be coming soon, but for further information, call Ms. Jo Ellen Hegwood at 414-476-4061.


And let’s not forget the 2014 History Sandwiched In programs, brought to you by your Wisconsin Historical Society! Bring your bag lunch to the WHS Museum on Capitol Square in Madison from 12:15 to 1:00 pm on the dates below to join fellow history buffs for a full plate of Wisconsin History (YUM!). Donation $2.00 each program.

June 3rd: Preserving Works of Art and What the Materiality of Objects Teaches Us

June 17th: Cold War University: Madison and the New Left in the Sixties!

July 8th: Wisconsin Printmakers

July 15th: Viskonsin! Yiddish Radio in Badgerland

July 29th: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine

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A Fond Look Back at Auction 2014

On the last weekend in April 2014, all those who supported the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction helped another dream to come true!

Funds from the auction will be donated to Black Point Historic Site for needed restoration projects, thus helping Black Point continue to be one of the finest remaining examples of its kind!

We’d like to extend special thanks to auctioneer Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service, who once again volunteered her time and energy to make the auction a success; the Wisconsin Antique Dealers Association, our founding and continuing sponsors; and Delafield Brewhaus, providers of the beer on Preview Night.


Friday, April 25th: Preview Night

The Black Point Story: As Delafield Brewhaus’ specialty amber beer flowed from the spigot into Seipp Brewing Company reproduction mugs, we were taken back to summers on Lake Geneva when Chicago beer baron Conrad Seipp built his family’s summer home. Site Director David Desimone drew a fascinating picture of the Seipp family, and took us on a virtual tour of the Estate and Lake Geneva area.

We learned that after Mr. Seipp immigrated to the United States from Hessen, Germany in the 1840s, he drove a beer wagon for Miller Brothers brewery. He later started his own brewery, and eventually the Seipp Brewery become one of the largest in the United States. Conrad unfortunately died in 1890, soon after Black Point was completed, but his family was able to still enjoy the estate for decades to come.

Even as examples of luxurious architecture disappeared from Lake Geneva over time, the Black Point Estate remained minimally altered, making it a rare gem of its period. Director Desimone illustrated our “virtual visit” to the estate with a vivid slide presentation, revealing one of the most intact collections of Victorian furnishings in the Midwest. We thank Mr. Desimone for this personal insight!

Spring 2014a


Treated to a Sneak Peek: Our Preview Night guests were the first to check out the Auction offerings (and those who were not able to attend the auction proper were able to submit proxy bids). It’s enlightening to observe the kind of connections people feel to these “objects with a past,” and to hear the stories of their own about the things they are drawn to!

Spring 2014b


What You Were Looking For: You never know when you’ll find just what you are looking for as you go through an auction collection! In between his sumptuous Wisconsin fish fry dinner and the Black Point presentation, Director Desimone was checking out the offerings for the next day’s auction…and BINGO, found just what he was looking for!

Spring 2014cSpring 2014d


Culmination of a Festive Evening: At the finale of this historic gala, dozens of door prize baskets were awarded. Prizes ranged form jewelry, china, and vintage gifts, to current period delights, like this selection of Green Bay Packer memorabilia.

Spring 2014e


Saturday, April 26th: The 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction

Shazam!: Auctioneer Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service worked her magic again! The Clausing Barn at Old World Wisconsin rang with excitement as offerings were sold to the highest bidders. The variety of vintage and antique items and collections presented bidders with opportunities galore!

Spring 2014f


The Right Fit: Finding something to treasure that was just the “right fit” was easy for everyone. Or maybe not…maybe there were way too many choices!

Spring 2014i


Perfect Sound: When it came time for the record player to be demonstrated, the audience couldn’t believe their ears when perfect sound wafted from this wood-and-brass old-timer!

Spring 2014g


Clever Device: Tom Kleist is famous for challenging students with a “whatz-it” quiz to introduce them to the gadgets from long ago that made a difference in folks’ lives. When asked what he thought was the treasured find at the auction, he replied, “The cheese press! It is not only a clever device, but is a perfect piece of art in itself!”

Spring 2014h


Thanks again to all you fellow history lovers for making this year’s auction a success! You’ve helped keep history alive!

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