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Curator's Choice: One Armed Bandit

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Anthony Gavin
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The name "one armed bandit" refers to the time in history when gambling was often rigged and not regulated as it is with casinos today. Most slot machines were fixed in the machine's favor.

Contributor Gianofer Fields, host of Lake Effect's Radio Chipstone series, has begun a kind of series within a series she’s calling Curator’s Choice. She asks a curator at a museum or historical society to pick a favorite object from the collection and tell us a little story about it. This week we meet Joe Kaplan, Curator for the Division of Museums and Historic Sites at the Wisconsin Historical Society. His favorite thing is an object that promotes what many consider to be a vice….gambling.

"Where's 'one-armed bandit' phrase come from? Comes from the draw, arm, pull, on the side of the most common gaming machine - the slot machine. It takes your money, it robs you and you don't realize it's robbing you," says Kaplan.

Gianofer Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison and is the curator of "It's a Material World" - a project 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.

Original air date: 10/04/14

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.