"Bought a house from an older Muslim couple, this was the only thing they left. It is about the size of a hand, top is hinged."
A: "It’s a match safe"
"What is this large, plastic thing found at the top of a small mountain? There was an apiary nearby."
A: "It is a backyard observatory."
"What is this thing? Each piece is about 10cm tall and screw together, the bit on the right acts like a syringe."
A: "It’s a vintage breast pump. That is not a cup for cupping. Don’t be mislead but the odd bowl shape and think cupping. The bowl is to contain the breast milk as pumped to be poured into another vessel. The wick is to keep the milk out of the ‘works’."
"Odd lighthouse type structure near Nassau in the Bahamas, does anyone know what this is or what it was used for ?"
A: "Abandoned Coral World – Nassau, The Bahamas (Coral World Bahamas is a combination aquarium and beach resort that opened in 1987. Its signature lighthouse-like tower observatory was built on an artificial island and is linked to the mainland of Nassau via an elevated causeway)"
"What is this thing? Found on the side of an English home, victorian, I think?"
A: "Coal grate. The wagon would pull up and dump a ton of coal into the basement."
"What is this thing? Found sitting up in an attic, looks like its been there a while from previous owner"
A: "Wilesco Nuclear Plant Steam Engine. Water goes in and steam comes out."
"Found this in a cupboard at an old farm no clue what it could be"
A: "It is for making mayonnaise."
"These two pieces of wood attached by a nylon strap. Found on the beach in Oregon."
A: "It is wheel chocks for keeping your trailer in place while you get your boat off."
"Stainless steel flatware with slats. About the size of a teaspoon. Back says “stainless steel Japan” but no other markings. Not very heavy and came in a set of four."
A: "It’s called The butterer. They’re for buttering corn on the cob."
"Metal object found in the middle of the desert"
A: "Probably a worn out ball from a tumbling mill. Basically a big rotating drum is filled with steel/iron balls and a material is passed through it to be crushed by the balls (like ore or stone)."
"What is this thing? About the length of a pinky finger, solid steel, probably weighs about a pound."
A: "Plumb bob"
"Any guesses as to what this plane part is? Fell out of the sky in Colorado when that United engine failed"
A: "Definitely a broken vape cartridge."
"Door with a hinged section a quarter through horizontally?"
A: "So it can fold around the corner when it’s open, and not stick out into the room"
"Metal, comes apart, sharp on the hollow ends."
A: "Cork borers"
"Cup with intricate design attached to chain. About the size of my palm, maybe 4 inch diameter. Too large to be jewelry and if you look, the chain isn’t attached the way jewelry would, it seems looped (?). Cup is about an inch deep. Heavy, no writing or numbers to check."
A: "It’s a tastevin! It was historically used by wine producers to inspect wine. The indented designs reflect light, highlighting the hues of wines (in particular reds) so that they were visible in darkened wine cellars. With the advent of electricity they’re somewhat obsolete. They are however still used by some sommeliers as little sipping cups to check that the wines have no flaws prior to serving."
"Some old electrical equipment I found in my physics lab."
A: "It called a Potentiometer."
"Just found this at a thrift store. The larger piece has an angled base, and there are 6 smaller pieces that fit inside the larger but it seems there’s room for 1 more to fit which would make 7. There’s no identifying numbers or engravings."
A: "It’s for chilling vodka."
"Found in the shed of our rental… Hole on the toe and top of the foot with a small handle. Hollowed out like a pipe. What’s this used for?"
A: "It’s an oil lamp"
"Small case attached to pocket watch chain"
A: "Visiting card holder."
"At the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck NY, bar has been around since the 1700s. Black metal with three valves (?), spring towards the end of the longer valve. Rest of bar has older rifles and machetes lining going around the room. Piece of a bag pipe, maybe?"
A: "It’s a German tobacco pipe"
"About 15 inches long. Very heavy. Made of wood and steel."
A: "It’s an antique turpentine tree hack."
"What do you call this wrench thing?"
A: "I’ve always called it a dog bone wrench. I have one just like it without the advertising. I’ve had it for about 50 years."
“This was found with some old tools. Doesn’t seem to attach to anything. It can lock in place, and the middle bit turns round, unraveling 2 straps of fabric. I’m stumped!”
A: "It’s for carrying books."
“I’ve had this around for a while, it’s very lightweight and wooden but very smooth...what is this thing?”
A: "It is a hairpin. Similar to this."
“This appears to be a green plastic scissor handle with metal loops and plastic teeth. Doesn’t have identifying marks.”
A: "My guess would be some sort of herb stripper. Sprigs go in the loops, the teeth are closed, and stalks are then pulled out."
“An intricate iron contraption that opens on one side”
A: "It’s a cast-iron buggy/whip holder."
“What is this keyhole in the wall next to an outer door?”
A1: "It’s probably for the fire department. We have a keyhole just like it next to our parking lot gate. This way, they can open it in case of an emergency."
A2: "It’s a Knox Box."
“These have been in our kitchen drawer for ages, but we haven’t figured out what they’re used for. Any ideas?”
A1: "The green one opens bananas."
A2: "The blue one on the right is for sure an orange peeler in the form of a beaver. With the tooth on the front, you can cut lines in the outer shell of the orange, and with the beavertail, you can kind of scrape the peel off."
“Found this old mechanical device in a dumpster. It’s extremely heavy. Is it a cash register? A mechanical calculator?”
A: "It is indeed a mechanical calculator, an Odhner 1950/60’s model."
“A solid metal Egyptian-looking scarab — my grandma believes she got it somewhere in Europe a long time ago. It has hieroglyphs on the underside and is fairly heavy for its size.”
A: "I have one of these from Egypt. Definitely a paperweight tourist trinket."
“What is this thing: some beach sand in Ecuador is magnetic.”
A: "It’s probably a bunch of iron. Look here."
“I found this in the garage — a tube with notches made of brass and the rest of the cover on top. It’s a copper rod with a wooden handle.”
A: "It’s a hair curler. I know hot combs and iron curlers exist but those are different products. These are akin to rollers you leave in overnight, like a cartoon image of an old 1950s lady with a nightgown and overnight rollers in her hair."
“A strange object from Tiffany’s was mysteriously given to my wife by her grandmother while refusing to say what it was. It was probably bought in the 1930s or 1940s. It’s about 4 in (10 cm) long. All she’d say was that ’she used it as a young woman but didn’t have much use for it nowadays.’ Any ideas?”
A: "It’s for stirring drinks."
“Found a bunch of 3-armed poles near the bike stands. The arms rotate, and it’s outside a tower block in London.”
A: "It’s an art installation for The Dumont Apartments at the Albert Embankment."
“What is this hook thing in the kitchen cabinet?”
“This solid metal ’kiss’ was in our bag of candy kisses. Is it part of the machinery?”
A: "Definitely not a part of the machine. Since it’s the same size and shape, I would say it’s a QA “gauge” to help operators verify the shape and portion size at a glance."
“This device in a nursing home that appears to be something halfway between a sink and a toilet”
A: "It’s a clinical sink, it’s for dumping out bedpans."
“It’s some sort of promotional item. What is it used for?”
A1: "I’m not sure of the scale, but it looks like an acupressure ring that’s meant to help improve circulation in your fingers."
A2: "Yes, according to my Korean wife, it’s a hand massage/strengthening kit."
“Someone was gifted this for a new baby with no note about what it is.”
A: "It’s a door silencer. It wraps around and covers the latch on a door so that it doesn’t latch, and the rubber also makes the door open and close silently. The straps go around the doorknob on each side."
“This thing is above my hospital bed, and none of the nurses know what it’s for.”
A: "It’s a battery-powered emergency light. The red light shows it has power and the battery is charging. When the power fails, that light comes on automatically to light your escape."
“I found these in my grandmother’s house (Germany), they are made of thin glass. Unfortunately, there is no box cover explaining what they are...”
A: "They are for flower decoration. One singular flower goes in the tube. There’s probably a stand for them somewhere around, but some people like to stick them in foam together with other decorations or in pieces of driftwood with holes drilled into them — or even into other flowerpots."