Now Online: Koskela House Finnish Museum

Side-by-side secretary-bookcase, Vale Jokela, Brantwood, Price County, ca. 1900.

Catalog entries for eight artifacts from the Koskela House Finnish Museum in Brantwood are now online. One of the highlights of this group of objects is the side-by-side desk and bookcase made by Valentin (Vale) Jokela, a Finnish immigrant who settled in Price County, Wisconsin around 1900.   

This piece first caught my eye when I saw a snapshot on the museum’s website. It was clear that the form was modeled on a popular style of furniture manufactured throughout the United States in the early 20th century (the desk shown below, from an online catalog for Garth’s Auctions of Delaware, Ohio, is a typical example). Vale Jokela created a unique handmade version of this common form, using scrap wood from shipping crates for some of the structure and embellishing the front of the desk with a distinctive sunburst shape. 

Another one of my favorite objects at the Koskela House is a large food mill used to make potato starch flour, a common ingredient in Finnish cooking. But not all of the items added to the database have Finnish connections–a dining table and sewing stand were made by Max Otto Scheller, the German-American grandfather of the museum’s founder. Scheller came to Wisconsin from Saxony in 1882. 

The Koskela House Finnish Museum maintains a blog at 

Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer. 

Side-by-side secretary bookcase sold by Garth's Auctions, Inc., August 7, 2009 (lot 1267).


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