Now Online: Private Collections part 1

Hand-carved figurine used as a cigarette and match holder, David E. Wachter, Milwaukee, 1904.

I have slowly been making my way through a large backlog of artifacts I’ve photographed in the past few months. Since starting a new job at the Outreach Specialist for Wisconsin Heritage Online (more on that in a future post), I’ve had a limited amount of time to devote to the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database. But the project continues, and many new entries will be posted online in the coming months!

In addition to objects from historic sites and museums, I have started to document a selection of items held in private collections in Wisconsin. Two groups of objects from private collectors–one built over decades of collecting, the other assembled much more recently–are now online.

The first collection is an eclectic array of furniture and folk art, much of it made by Scandinavian immigrants in Wisconsin, including an inlaid box made in Dunn County and a turned maple bowl probably made in Dane County. One of my favorite works from this collection is a figurine carved and signed by David E. Wachter of Milwaukee (at left). This charming and highly detailed figure of a wolf dressed in Alpine hiking gear is meant to function as a cigarette and match holder–the wolf’s open backpack holds cigarettes and an emery board in a medallion at his feet serves as a match striker.

Cast iron horse head hitching post finial, Charles Silberzahn, West Bend, ca. 1880-1900.

The second private collection consists of cast iron horse-head hitching posts produced by Wisconsin manufacturers including Charles Silberzahn of West Bend, William Bayley of Milwaukee, and the Appleton Novelty Works. A first for the database, the hitching posts are a unique example of the early metals industry in Wisconsin and also offer some impressive visual impact.

Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.

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