“Found this hidden in the ceiling of my basement with a bunch of others. It’s made out of glass, appears to have some sort of tape or paper border around it.”
A: "Nice find! It’s a magic lantern glass slide."
"Magical lanterns are
optical viewing devices that date back to the 17th century, and the earliest slides were
“It’s been in my family garage for years. Is it a type of nut?”
A: "It’s a seed pod from an Australian Banksia shrub."
"These seed pods are
actually the fruits of the tree, and they’re often used
for woodturning crafts."
“Found this washed up on a beach in Massachusetts. It’s wooden and looks handcrafted... Maybe a piece of a chair?”
A: "Wow! It looks like a Davis quadrant or a backstaff, a navigational instrument that is the predecessor of the sextant."
“Got this as a prize in a Christmas cracker with no instructions, just a few sharp hooks?”
A: "That’s a needle threader."
"You can see how automatic needle threaders work in this
“Found it in a middle school, it has 4 padded rollers. The blue and red rollers swing out and tension is adjusted by the bungie cords. What is this thing?”
A: "It’s a squeeze machine for children with autism."
"This steam roller
is designed to provide pressure that children with neurological processing disorders need. Children are supposed to crawl
between the rollers and experience this pressure."
“What is this stabby thing on wheels?”
A: "It’s for weeding cracks and crevices."
"This garden tool
will help you get rid of weeds growing from cracks and other narrow spaces."
“Found this thing on the beach. It’s solid and smells like seaweed, what is it?”
A: "Codium bursa is a medium-sized green marine algae."
can grow up to 30 cm across. It consists
of loosely packed filaments that form ball-shaped structures."
“Small terra-cotta turtle purchased at a garden center. What’s it meant to be used for?”
A: "Looks like a plant stand. You put 3 or 4 under a pot to allow for drainage."
are some similar turtle-shaped pot stands made of resin."
“What is this glass within a glass?”
A: "It’s an old glass
for seafood, you put ice chips inside to keep the food cold."
“A silver utensil. When you press the button on one end the grips open.”
A: "It’s a sugar cube holder (tongs
“I got a bag containing 6 of these. What are they?”
A: "It’s a Rose of Jericho
, or Resurrection Plant."
"This plant can stay
dry for many years and come alive in all its glory when coming into contact with water."
“The hole gets smaller when I squeeze it. Found it in the kitchen at my parents’ house. What do I use it for?”
A: "This tool
is used to strip corn on the cob."
“IKEA coffee mug, what is the thing at the bottom?”
A: "It’s a “draining gate.”"
"These drainage gates don’t let
water accumulate when the mug is placed upside down in the dishwasher."
“Found this second hand, it opens up. It’s made of metal. What is it?”
A: "It’s an egg basket."
"This is an antique egg basket
made of wire."
"Found on the shoreline of a beach in the Scottish Isles. They were scattered, not in one area. Feel like glass, one clear and the rest black. The one that has a line has equal lines all the way around."
A: "Pretty sure the black ones are carbon rods from batteries. They are a quite common find while beachcombing."
"Bunch of wooden spikes, no numbers or word of them?"
A: "They're splicing fids for splicing ropes together. You drive the spike between the strands of the rope so you can fit a strand of a different rope through."
"A friend and I found this structure behind a Petsmart and it seems to have been here longer than any of the buildings in the area. What was it used for?"
A: "Those are some serious I-beams. This thing was built stronger than a house, so there's no way it was a simple greenhouse. The pulley and second story make me think something like a barn loft was up there."
"WITT A small, round steel ball found in the ground outside my house in Oxford"
A: "Steel and Iron balls like this is used in mining and material processing to grind up rocks into smaller rocks."
"Big Antique German Chest. Apparently it’s been in my family for generations. Made from dark black wood and ivory. The panels are etched and decorated. Inside are numerous drawers. The chest contains a bunch of very old books, the oldest from the 1690s. What is this thing?"
A: "It looks like a contenential tourist chest/cabinet used for showing off little treasures."
"Found on a beach near small fishing community. White plastic hard foam ring, attached to three stainless steel claws of mathcing lengths."
A: "Maybe for pulling in nets? Grip the ring use the little metal 'fingers' to grab and pull in the nets without hurting your fingers."
"Bought at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul 20 years ago. Colorful wooden contraption that has individual wooden spindles comprising 2 wheels that spin when the handle is turned"
A: "It's a spinning wheel for spinning yarn."
"WITT? Found at a garage sale! 5 inches long. Heavy lead like material molded and peened all over the outer surface! “Pat. Aug 5 1902” engraved in small barely visible print on backside."
A: "This is one part of a "Flower Support or Holder" for making decorative flower arrangements. The patent description says that this specific component would be "cast of lead or other suitable metal"."
"Previous Tenant left it in the freezer"
A: "Wine chiller. Marble, maybe? Looks like a nice one"
"Two small rings held together by a thin chain or wire. Found while camping in the mountains."
A: "It's a wire saw"
"Found in Western North Carolina on a beach alongside the Tuckaseegee River! It’s about 4 or 5 pounds, partially hollow with a threaded inside, has a small 14 etched on the side of it, and is very sharp! What is this thing??"
A: "That is a plumb bob. Looks like this