“Found hanging in the basement of a house I just bought. About the size of a deck of cards, flips open to reveal a battery.”
“I bought this thing in a store last weekend for $2. Solid brass, steel blade, set screw + washer. The blade doesn’t fill the gap made by the weird angle of the body...”
“When you crank it, it lifts the pan about 1/2 inch then drops it back down. What is it?”
Answer: Casagrande cup for testing the Atterberg limits.
“Metal (copper?) inlay on hotel room shelf? What does it do?”
Answer: It’s for putting your keys on when you walk through the front door.
“Found in a washroom in London — what is this thing in the middle?”
“I found this at a thrift store in the kitchen section. It has something to do with baking, and that’s all I know. What is this thing?”
“Trying to figure out what this is. Saw it at an estate sale.”
Answer: It’s an antique clock without a face.
“What type of spoon is this? It has to have a name.”
Answer: It’s a “proper” soup spoon.
“What is this wooden box that resembles a telephone? I bought it in Corbridge, in the UK, and the seller didn’t know what it was.”
Answer: This is a primitive tinder box (a device for starting an open fire) and it was widely used before matches were invented.
“Found in an Airbnb I just stayed in, just inside the front door. I thought it was bike racks, but the door couldn’t open if bikes were hanging there.”
Answer: Kayak or surfboard holder.
“Saw this funny-shaped case at the airport.”
“Looks like a safety pin on the top, no idea what the others are.”
“Sitting in a Tokyo restaurant, and they brought this fork.”
Answer: It’s for pulling lumps of food off skewers.
“Any ideas what it might be?”
Answer: A sipping cup for mineral water, which Karlovy Vary is rather famous for.
“Found in an antique shop for $1. It’s made of wood. It looks like a nesting doll but it has a spiral inside.”
Answer: This is a darning egg with room for storage for some thread.
“Spoon-shaped implement with a strainer/filter on one end and a mouthpiece on the other.”
Answer: It is a bombilla, a straw for drinking mate.
“Found at the base of a hiking trail at a park. 3 identical wooden poles, about mid-thigh height, each with a chain hanging down facing a central concrete circle.”
Answer: Apparently, there are bears in the park that steal trash cans. This device helps to prevent trash can theft, but obviously, this time, the bear won.