Auction Listings Are Here: Lots of Lots to Look At!

30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Preview 9:00 am, Auction 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Old World Wisconsin’s Clausing Barn

W372 S9727 WI-67

Eagle, WI 53119

Two years in the making, 350+ lots of vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) items have been donated from throughout the Midwest to produce the 4th Biennial 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction.

2016 Auction Lot a2016 Auction Lot j

From vintage kitchenware to antique churns, country cupboards to Victorian rockers, antique quilts to country store advertising, there is something for everyone! Included in this auction are the “Asparagus Man” paintings, among them Heaven on Earth, the masterpiece of outsider artist Adam Berg’s works.

For many more photos of the auction listings, click here!

2016 Auction Lot d2016 Auction Lot h

The auction is produced by the volunteers of the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The auctioneer is Carol Miller, Wi Registered Auctioneer #319 of Baileys Honor Auction & Estate Service LLC. All proceeds benefit Wisconsin State Historic Sites.

2016 Auction Lot c2016 Auction Lot g

This is a No Reserve auction. There are no phone or internet bids. Absentee bids will be accepted through April 20. Cash, checks (with proper ID), and credit & debit cards are accepted (a 3% credit & debit card convenience fee will be added). A 10% buyer’s premium additionally benefits Wisconsin State Historic Sites.

2016 Auction Lot b2016 Auction Lot e

Good food will be available on the site!

For more info, contact Debbie McArdle at or 815-575-1272.

2016 Auction Lot f2016 Auction Lot i

Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

Let’s See What You’ve Got: Donate Your Antique and Vintage Items!

The FRIENDS did it before and can do it again!

And what is “it,” you ask? Why, making a difference in the preservation of history!

How can it be done? Well, here’s a great opportunity for you: donate items for our upcoming Benefit Auction.

That’s right, we’re looking for antique (more than 100 years old) and vintage (50 to 99 years old) items for the 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, to be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016, with its legendary Preview Night on the evening before.

So clean out your closets & cabinets, your attics & basements, your garages & sheds; who knows what good stuff you might find?

Donate now and take advantage of a 2015 tax deduction, or donate in January for a 2016 tax deduction!

Either way, your item donation will help the upcoming Benefit Auction become another success toward sponsoring the needs of our State Historic Sites, and the telling of our Wisconsin story.

To donate, call Riene Wells at 262-363-4700.

We appreciate your commitment to keeping history alive!


Posted in News | Leave a comment

WADA to Assist FRIENDS at Antiques Show on October 2 & 3; You Can Donate Too!

Remember Adam Berg, also known as the “Asparagus Man,” and his most impressive carved oil painting Heaven on Earth (we had a whole post about it here)? Well, Berg’s folk art created quite a stir at the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association show this past February, spurring other donors to come forth with incredible donations. Now the “Asparagus Man” paintings are keeping good company with other worthy objects, including a circa 1830 Windsor rocker in original paint, scales, buggies, commemorative flow blue, spinning wheels, and much more!

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 1 (2)Drier, c1830 Windsor rocker, original paint and stencilHouston, Heywood Buggy

On Oct. 2 & 3 in Waukesha, the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association is again providing the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society with a free booth at the antiques show, where volunteers will accept tax-deductible donations of antique (100+ years old) and vintage (50-99 years old) items for our 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction to be held in April 2016.Tax-deductible receipts will be provided to each donor. Click here for a printable page of details about the antiques show, which doubles as an admission coupon!

In addition to the free booth space at the show, WADA has provided their fourth grant to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society as founding and continuing sponsors of the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction. WADA is a not-for-profit organization and the admissions charged at their Waukesha shows fund grant and scholarship programs; see to learn more.

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction.You can follow her many auctions throughout the year at

If you have questions about the 2016 auction, or if you would like to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700, or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272,

Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

We’re Accepting Donations for the 2016 Antiques Auction!

FWHS Donation Images 1

Donate now!

Empty your attic and cellar!

We are looking for vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) items for the 4th Biennial 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction.

Tax deductible receipts provided!

Preserve Wisconsin’s history — auction proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Riene: 262-363-4700,

Debbie: 815-575-1272,

FWHS Donation Images 2

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Fresh Chocolates, Vintage Chocolate Makers: Wisconsin’s Historic Confectioners

You know how we really like vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (100+ years old) things (such as the vintage and antique items you’ll donate to our 2016 Benefit Antiques Auction by calling Riene Wells at 262-363-4700…hint hint)?

Well, we really like vintage and antique businesses too…that is, those Wisconsin establishments that were founded over 50 years ago and are still around today.

We also happen to really like chocolate, and we’re pretty sure a lot of you do too.

So with all that said, we present to you a short list of some of Wisconsin’s vintage and antique chocolate makers, whether you need an amazing last-minute Valentine’s Day gift assortment for your sweetie, a fix for your sweet tooth in the upcoming months, or just a fix of sweet local business history! Links to their websites and online stores are in the titles.

Wilmar Chocolates: This Appleton handmade chocolate shop was founded in 1956 and has won numerous awards from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.


Hughes’ Home Maid Chocolates: Three generations of the Hughes family have been making and chocolates in the basement of their Oshkosh family home since 1940.


Kehr’s Candies: Founded in 1931 by newlywed couple Pearl and B.D. Kehr, this Milwaukee shop started out selling caramel corn in the early days of the Great Depression before expanding to candy, starting with chocolate fudge. The Kehrs’ son Bill took over in 1960 and then sold the shop in 1995 to longtime employee Paul Martinka, who carries on the Kehrs’ tradition.


Beerntsen’s Candies: Mark and Brenda Beertsen run this Green Bay candy store three generations after Henry Beerntsen first opened it in 1925.


Quality Candy/Buddy Squirrel: Founded in 1916 in Milwaukee by Polish immigrants Joseph and Lottie Helminiak, this chocolate store grew and eventually moved to St. Francis in 1985, where it merged with the 1960s Buddy Squirrel nut business.


Kaap’s Old World Chocolates: This Green Bay chocolate store was founded in 1909 by Otto Kaap, who made his chocolates overnight so they would be fresh the next day. Over time, he expanded the store to include an ice cream parlor and restaurant.


Seroogy’s: Three generations after being founded in 1899 by brothers Joe, Jim, and Sol Seroogy, this De Pere chocolate shop is still in the family and run by Seroogy brothers named Jim and Joe!


Oaks Candy: This chocolate shop has been an Oshkosh staple for over 100 years!




Posted in News | Leave a comment

Return of the Asparagus Man: Heaven on Earth for WADA and Friends

“Asparagus Man” painting donated to

2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction;

Heaven on Earth to be displayed at

Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Assn. Show

Feb. 6 & 7, 2015, Waukesha

Anyone familiar with Wild Rose, Wisconsin, will remember it is as a tiny, picturesque town, smack dab in the middle of the state. If you ever traveled down County Highway K between 1947 and 1975, you may have encountered the tiny one-bedroom farm home of Adam and Anna Berg with signs “Odd Job Work” and “Asparagus” hanging on the clapboards. Adam had just retired as a Chicago cab driver in 1947 when he and Anna made Wild Rose their home, selling asparagus and charging 10-cent admission to their art gallery to generate a small cash income. He soon became known locally as the “Asparagus Man.”

A self-taught folk artist, Berg believed isolation from the cultural mainstream allowed him to develop a technique to “carve” his paintings using the medium of oil. By adding multiple layers of oil paint over a period of years, he painstakingly transformed his detailed paintings into low reliefs up to ½” thick. Berg described Heaven on Earth, completed in 1963 after five years of paint layering, as “the masterpiece of his life’s work.”

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 1 (2)

Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 3 (3)Kozlowski - Berg Heaven on Earth 6 (2)

This most impressive 60″ x 48″ piece, which was purchased in 1973 for $2,300 ($13,000 in 2014 dollars!) and which traveled throughout Wisconsin as part of the exhibit Grass Roots Art: Wisconsin, has been generously donated to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society for their 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, which will raise important funding for Wisconsin historic preservation.

Furthermore, before Heaven on Earth reaches its auction destination, it first will be displayed at the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association (WADA) Show on February 6 & 7, 2015 at the Waukesha County Expo Center!

WADA is kindly providing the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society with a free booth at this antiques show, where volunteers will accept tax-deductible donations of antique and vintage items for the 2016 auction. Tax-deductible receipts will be provided at the show to each donor. WADA also has provided their fourth grant to the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society as founding & continuing sponsors of the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction. To learn more about WADA antiques shows and the grants and scholarships they provide, see

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction. You can follow her many auctions throughout the year at

For questions about  the 2016 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction, or to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700,,or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272,

Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

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

Posted in News | 1 Comment

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!



Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

Posted in News, Tours & Trips | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in News | Leave a comment