"Found this piece of glass that changes colors depending on how you look at it. Where could this have come from?"
Answer: “It’s a dichroic glass filter used for color correction in photographic printers.”
"What is this small brass container on a stick (that opens)? It says Windsor Castle on it and it’s about palm-sized."
Answer: “It’s a miniature bed warmer.”
"It’s a little bigger than an AA battery and weighs about the same. It has a tiny pinhole on the top and a combination with numbers 5 to 9."
Answer: “It’s a needle case with little compartments inside. The top doesn’t come off — the numbers indicate the size of the needles, which you take in and out through the little hole.”
"What is this green piece of plastic? My nephew found it in the water at the beach in Northern Michigan. It was made in China."
Answer: “It’s a Banzai Diving Gem. A diving toy for kids.”
"Can anyone identify what purpose this piece of furniture serves?"
Answer: “It is a telephone stand. The handle is to move it around the room.”
"What is this stand found on a farm in Missouri, USA?"
Answer: “It’s a drink holder.”
"What is this little tray holder? It has a handle, it’s all made of metal, and the trays are in the shape of an “8” with 2 round holes each."
Answer: “They are bagel trays from a bread-making machine.”
"Found deep inside of a recliner, it’s made of glass. The green part is plastic."
Answer: “That is a plastic maple sap spile used to tap trees and collect sap to make syrup. The green is a plastic hose. Modern sap collection uses these cheaper plastic taps and connects to a series of tubing running to a central sap collection point.”
"Found a nicely made wooden box with a small clock in the lid."
Answer: “It’s an old desk organization accessory. The smaller cubbies are sized for business cards and the larger for standard envelopes.”
"An odd oil lamp with a canister. What is it for?"
Answer: “This is known as a student oil lamp. The canister is an oil reservoir. By putting the reservoir on the side the lamp would balance better and it reduced the shadow that would have been cast by the bottom of the lamp if it maintained the more traditional design.”
"My friend found it in a thrift store. It’s a ring with 2 handles and 2 rails. Possible kitchen utensil."
Answer: “It is the bottom (cradle) for carrying a stoneware crock.”
"What is this tiny saucepan thing my husband inherited? It has a removable thing with holes around the edges."
Answer: “It’s a single egg poacher. You put water in the bottom and an egg on top. It essentially poaches the egg.”
"What is this silver tweezy thing with triangle notches?"
Answer: “For holding paper/documents together.”
"The previous owner of the house left it in the garage. It’s a curved wooden slatted thing that pivots in the middle."
Answer: “You’ll see 2 slots in the steel bar on the bottom — a length of wire goes in there to hold it open at the right width, then a glass panel rests on the top to form the tabletop.”
"Found in a library/art exchange. Appears to be a decorative copper dustpan"
Answer: “For sweeping up crumbs off a table. Some call that style a ’silent butler.’”
"Wooden box found at a thrift store. The area behind each keyhole is drilled out, but they don’t connect together behind the metal plate."
Answer: “This is apparently a manual dexterity evaluation test used in neuropsych to evaluate fine motor skills. The random keyholes are intentional to require different approaches to inserting the key and rotating it. There would have been 25 little metal keys stored in the wooden bowl part of the thing.”
"Is this a kitchen item?"
Answer: “It’s a pen holder for your desk and was probably sold at a cheap goods shop in Japan.”
"What’s this unusual small silver box with a wing on a chain inside?"
Answer: “It’s a purse hook. You hang it off of the table so your purse doesn’t touch the floor. The company that made this one is called Arbon and it’s from mid-century.”
"I found this in the trash. Any ideas?"
Answer: “It’s a laser-cut ’perpetual’ calendar.”
"What is this ring my Uber driver would randomly click?"
Answer: “It’s a digital counter used to keep track of prayers.”
“What is this serving tray/board? Metal and wood”
Answer: “It’s for serving bagels with trays for lox and cream cheese. It’s missing the rods to hold the bagels and the glass dishes."
“What are these cutouts on the cover of my notebook?”
Answer: “Here’s a picture of the functions of these slots. I grabbed before I lost the link to the merchant store. The slots are for card holding. If you google pirate journal 6 ring binder, or Jack Sparrow journal, something like that, you can find a whole bunch of them with this design.”
“What is this small, metal hooky thing with a rubber tip found in a jewelry box?”
Answer: “I believe that is for hanging a purse off of the side of a table in a restaurant. You can use it for a purse, but also to hold many plastic bags. Hence the finger placement. Not sure though but looks like it. And the ‘bracelet’ is to attach the device to the handle of your purse so that you don’t lose it.”
“What is this heavy clear glass thing with holes in a silver plate stand?”
Answer: “It is a flower vase. The insert is called a flower frog, the term frog comes from the use of the word frog to describe the piece of leather that holds a sword or bayonet to a belt. The entire thing goes inside the vase to serve as a stabilizer for individual stems. The link here shows some examples.”
“Found in my pantry’s tool cabinet, the ovalish section slides up and down.”
Answer: “It’s a holder for a stem thermometer. The hex part is a wrench for the calibration of the thermometer. Common in the restaurant business.”
“White glazed ceramic dish and/or planter? Illegible (to me) markings on bottom.”
Answer: “It is a mid-century console bowl. They weren’t typically used as planters, too shallow for roots. They were usually used to hold flower arrangements, either real or artificial. Japanese-style ikebana arrangements were very popular at the time and were often displayed in low bowls like this.”
“Glass vase thing found in a thrift store in Navarre, FL.”
Answer: “It’s a kind of drinking bottle used in Spain, specifically Catalonia. You drink from it by pouring a stream through the air and directly into your mouth. It’s called a Porron. The shape is a bit strange, maybe because the one you have is just a decorative piece.”
“What is this metal rattle-shaped item?”
Answer: “It’s just a sterling silver baby rattle-shaped keepsake box. Like you’d put a lock from baby’s first haircut in there... Silver objects are traditional baby and christening gifts and have been popular since Victorian times. Here’s a little about their history.”
“What is this plier-handled tool with gear-toothed rollers turned by a wing crank at the top?”
Answer: “That looks a lot like a really nice paint tube squeezer. It probably works really well at getting the very last bit of toothpaste from the tube.”
“I found this in an old cupboard. I think it might be tarnished silver?”
Answer: “It’s a lyre to hold sheet music while marching. This one is for a brass instrument. Here’s one similar.”
“Hefty brass vessel riveted to thin metal arm with wooden handle?”
Answer: “It’s part of a petroleum flash point tester. It’s a copper ladle for holding liquid petroleum.”
“Glass things found at the thrift store. I thought they might be lab equipment. I am not a scientist.”
Answer: “These may be oil lamps, with missing round wicks that hang down into the teardrop-shaped oil reservoirs. There are also glass tubes with a lip on one end that the wick slides through. They keep the wick from falling all the way into the oil reservoir.”
“Feels like hard rubber and was found in the ground.”
Answer: “Those are cattle brands, it is the base from a horseshoe set.”
“What is this thing? I’m not sure what this type of keychain device is (or is used for). Any ideas?”
Answer: “For anyone interested, here’s the product: (Water Quality Tester that analyzes any water and shows the result on the app.”
“Found when cleaning my parents basement. Looks like some sort of book holder or something. It is made out of wood and the paint is heavily chipped. Ripped up pieces of newspaper were found inside the top compartment, one of which was dated 1967.”
Answer: “It’s an Italian (Florentine style) phone stand. There should be a drawer for pens and paper and a personal phone book. The vertical cavity is for your city phone book or books. The top is a handle for moving it about.”
“It was titled at auction as a ‘sewing bag’ but it’s completely padded inside and I have no idea what it’s for.”
Answer: “Tea cozy, this particular style was common in the Netherlands. They’re called theemuts (tea hat) in Dutch. Used to maintain the temperature of the beverage.”
"What is this engraved block of wood used for? 5"x5″, possibly a game? What is it?"
Answer: “This game is called Rota, it’s meant to be played by 2 people.”
“What is this strange looking piece of furniture for? It’s about the size of a footstool.”
Answer: “Ergonomic kneeling chair. You sit on the pad on the left. Knees go on the pad on the right. It was popular at one time.”
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