What could have possibly been happening in 1860 in the Wisconsin State Capitol building that would require a 34 pound, six and one half foot-long, fully functioning folding knife?
It’s the many objects that call our state capitol home and it’s also one of the oddest. In this archival edition of Radio Chipstone contributor gianofer fields speaks with Joe Kapler of the Wisconsin Historical Society about what happened in 1860, what it has to do with a giant knife, and why that knife remains at the State Capitol.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.
About the Guest:
Joe Kapler is lead curator in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s division of Museums and Historic Sites. He has specialities in the history of folk artist Paul Seifert and the Evergleam aluminum Christmas tree. Joe is based at the Society’s headquarters in Madison where he has worked since 2001. Joe has curated 10 major exhibitions and he recently published his first book, “Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Life and Legend of Folk Artist Paul Seifert.”
Image: Museum worker holding giant knife presented to John Fox Potter by Missouri Republicans after Potter’s threatened duel with a Virginia congressman. 1860. Museum object #1957.1122. Photograph courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. See here.