February 2016 Mystery Tool A
Gary Studebaker, Larwill, Indiana; Marlin Harbst, Merrill, Iowa; John Buesing, Brewton, Alabama; and Robert N. Phillips, Newberry, Florida, believe this to be an oil can funnel. “The older round, waxed cardboard oil cans would be opened and inserted into the funnel to drain,” Gary says. “The stopper was used to plug the hole so that when the funnel was removed, it didn’t drip. Photo submitted by DJ Stamp.
February 2016 Mystery Tool B
Possibly a rake arm from a reaper. See patent no. 128,402. Photo submitted by Robin Case, Brookhaven, Mississippi.
Patent no. 128,402: Improvement in harvesters. Patent granted to William A. Kirby, Auburn, N.Y., assignor to himself and David M. Osborne, Auburn, N.Y., June 25, 1872.
February 2016 Mystery Tool C
Turpentine hack, used to slash bark on a pine tree to allow sap to flow. Identified by Lester Unruh, Copeland, Kansas; BZ Cashman, Blue Ridge, Georgia; Clarence Gibbs, Inman, South Carolina; Tom Gerow Jr., Cary, North Carolina; Gary Studebaker; Joe H. Thome Sr., Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Robert F. Phillips; John Buesing; Verlon H. Beck, Scottsboro, Alabama; and Denford Eubank, Pollocksville, North Carolina. “This tool was used to score a V-shaped series of slashes on a pine tree to cause the sap to bleed out and be collected in a cup mounted at bottom,” BZ explains. “The sap was mainly used to make turpentine, but after processing it was also used in medicines and other products. The turpentine industry was prevalent mainly in the deep south as far west as east Texas. The tool was held with both hands with the weight at bottom. The curved blade was sharp; with downward strokes the bark was cut away to make sap run.” See patent no. 554,210. Photo submitted by Willard Smith, Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, Blountstown, Florida.
Patent no. 554,210: Turpentine hack. Patent granted to Edward Blount, Quitman, Ga., assignor to Blount Turpentine Tool Co., Quitman, Ga., Feb. 4, 1896.
Above: This photo, sent by Verlon H. Beck, shows a pine tree after turpentine has been extracted, creating what is referred to as a “cat face.” “This was very big business in the 1940s and ’50s,” Verlon says.
February 2016 Mystery Tool D
Cane stripper, used to strip leaves from sugar cane or sorghum. Identified by BZ Cashman; Clarence Gibbs; Robert F. Phillips; and Verlon H. Beck. “This sugar cane stripper was used to remove leaves from a stalk of sugar cane prior to cutting,” BZ says. “Stalks were then squeezed in a roller press and juice boiled to remove water, leaving the syrup. The modern method of preparing the stalks involves burning the field to remove leaves.” Photo submitted by Willard Smith.
February 2016 Mystery Tool E
Larry Whitesell, Tipton, Indiana, believes these to be axle straps. “There would be threads cut on the round portions and the flat portion is bent over the wood that sits on the metal buggy axle,” he says. “Then there is a straight bar with holes in each end that the strap goes through and a square nut screwed on to tighten it. They also are used to connect the brackets that receive the shaft or pole, depending on whether you use one or two horses.” Photo submitted by Don Wood, Danville, California.
February 2016 Mystery Tool F
Pie lifter, used to remove pies from ovens and move hot dishes. Identified by BZ Cashman; Orin Lamport, Fittstown, Oklahoma; David F. Lauer, Springville, Pennsylvania; Karl Fretz, Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada; Gary Studebaker; Erwin Fullerton, S. Woodstock, Vermont; and Fred Space, Sussex, New Jersey. “This is a twin to the one I have, which was used by my grandmother more than 80 years ago,” Karl says. “She used it to remove pies from the hot oven of the wood-fired cook stove. The cast hook near the handle end would slide, giving a grip to the pie plate with the front of the hood grabbing the opposite side of the plate. Simple, but very efficient. It was known as a ‘pie getter.’” See patent no. 1,435,405 for a similar piece. Photo submitted by Phil Gent, Jackson Co. (Iowa) Historical Society.
Patent no. 1,435,405: Utensil lifter. Patent granted to Charles D. Lockman and Charles Postel Jr., Indianapolis, assignors of one-third to Harry C. Krom, Indianapolis, Nov. 14, 1922.