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Curators' Favorites: Odd Wisconsin

Oscar Mayer Wiener Banjo-Ukulele

Banjo-ukulele used by jingle composer Richard Trentlage in the first recording of the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song, 1962. (Museum object #2009.59.1) Were it not for the words written on its surface, this banjo-ukulele, an easy-to-play, handy instrument, probably wouldn't arouse...
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Posted August 12, 2009



Wonder Spot "Book" Sign

Wonder Spot "Book" sign that greeted thousands of visitors to the beloved Wonder Spot attraction in the Wisconsin Dells area, c. 1990. (Museum Object #2007.142.8) This sign welcomed tourists to the cabin at the Wonder Spot attraction in Lake Delton,...
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Posted October 23, 2008



Giant Punt Gun

Punt gun used to hunt waterfowl on Lake Mendota, Madison, Wisconsin, c. 1866-1870. (Museum object #1947.1743) Talk about bang for the buck! (Or should that be that "bang for the duck"?) Made by August Herfurth of Madison, Wisconsin, this jumbo...
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Posted August 14, 2008



Civil War Loyalty Flag

20-star United States Flag used in initiation ceremonies to the Union League, where members swore to protect the Union and its values, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, 1862-1865. (Museum object #1951.213) Most Americans believe that the Civil War consisted of two...
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Posted June 12, 2008



Vitamin-Finding Feces Bucket

Sheetmetal bucket with wooden handle used to collect cow manure during nutrition experiments at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 1907-1911. (Museum object #1992.103) It may be hard to believe, but this rather plain looking (and perhaps once malodorous) feces...
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Posted May 29, 2008



1960s Paper Dress

Paper dress made by Scott Paper Co., 1966-1967. (Museum object #1969.184.13) Disposable paper clothes seemed the wave of the future in the mid 1960s. At the time, living in space looked like a real possibility, and, as one textile designer...
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Posted April 3, 2008



Skunk Grease Medicine

Skunk grease made by Henry Blumer as a home health remedy for Adolph Strahm of Green County, Wisconsin, c. 1920. (Museum object #2006.1.1A-B) Henry "Hank" Blumer, a farmer living near New Glarus, Wisconsin, made this jar of skunk grease medicine...
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Posted November 29, 2007



Magician's Escape Trunk

Escape trunk, restraining devices, and curtain used by magician Ben Bergor of Madison, Wisconsin, 1940s. (Museum objects #1982.159.17,19,21,23,25) Ben Bergor was a Madison-born and Madison-based performer and booking agent, who from the 1910s through the 1950s worked in tent shows,...
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Posted October 25, 2007



1930s Permanent Wave Machine

Frederics permanent wave machine used in Crisella's Beauty Shop in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, late 1930s. (Museum object #1986.79.2) Prior to the twentieth century, a woman with straight hair who desired curls had to spend hours heating curling irons over a flame...
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Posted September 20, 2007



Bull Semen Parachute

Parachute used by the University of Wisconsin to deliver fresh bull semen to farmers in rural areas, 1944-1947. (Museum object #1993.7) Even though nearly 60 percent of all cattle today are born to cows that have never had actual contact...
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Posted April 19, 2007



Scotch Giant's Shoe Last

Shoe last (form) used to make boots for Frederick Shadick of Cottage Inn, Wisconsin, 1849-1854. (Museum object #1968.15.1) Around 1849, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Shadick moved from New York City to the small village of Cottage Inn, Wisconsin to settle...
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Posted February 15, 2007



Spiritualist's Séance Robe

Séance robe worn by Louise Parke during her work as a Spiritualist in Wisconsin, 1895-1905. (Museum object #1958.650) Louise (Kingsley) Parke was a member of a Madison family well known for their ability to communicate with the deceased. Her father,...
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Posted October 26, 2006



X-Ray Shoe Fitting Machine

Simplex fluoroscope machine made by X-Ray Shoe Fitter, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin and most likely used in a Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin shoe store, c. 1945-1955. (Museum object #1992.109) In the late 1940s, Noren's Shoes of Sturgeon Bay attracted customers with the...
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Posted September 28, 2006



Glass Used by Teddy Roosevelt after Assassination Attempt

Water glass used by Theodore Roosevelt just after he was shot by a would-be assassin in Milwaukee, 1912. (Museum object #1954.291) On the night of October 14, 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was addressing 9,000-12,000 people in Milwaukee Auditorium when he stopped...
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Posted October 13, 2005



Bascom Hill Pink Flamingo

Pink flamingo from the flock that graced Bascom Hill on on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, 1979. (Museum object #1979.302A-C) As sleepy students made their way up Bascom Hill on the first day of classes in 1979, they were greeted...
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Posted September 1, 2005



Sterling Hall Bombing Engine Fragment

Engine fragment from the van used in the Sterling Hall bombing, 1970. (Museum object #1994.8) This twisted piece of metal is the only known remnant of the van that carried the bomb that rocked the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on...
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Posted August 18, 2005



Fugitive Slave Collar

Iron collar removed from a fugitive slave by Wisconsin soldiers in 1862. (Museum object #1961.73) In early June 1862, the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry occupied Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to John T. Perry of Company I, within days of the...
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Posted June 16, 2005



Oldest Toast in Wisconsin?

Charred bread slices recovered from the Alden's Corners archaeological site in Dane County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #2002.211.1,3,5) In 2002, archaeologists from the Museum Archaeology Program of the Wisconsin Historical Society were surprised to find what may be the oldest pieces...
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Posted April 28, 2005



Multi-Purpose Food from Fallout Shelter

Multi-Purpose Food from Cold War fallout shelter in Racine, Wisconsin, 1960. (Museum object #1996.81.81) Paul and Edith Sobel purchased this and several other cans of Multi-Purpose Food (MPF) to help stock the fallout shelter they installed in their new ranch-style...
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Posted April 14, 2005



The "Monster Knife" of John Fox Potter

Giant knife presented to John Fox Potter by Missouri Republicans after Potter's threatened duel with a Virginia congressman, 1860. (Museum object #1957.1122) John Fox Potter was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Wisconsin in 1856...
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Posted April 7, 2005



Arndt Vest

Vest worn by Charles C.P. Arndt when he was shot on the floor of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, 1842. (Museum object #1963.300) On February 11, 1842 the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature met in Madison only to be interrupted by the shooting...
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Posted February 4, 2005



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