The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless contraptions that revolutionized farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Check the image gallery at the right for four sent in by readers.
Mystery solved! Check your answers to the old tools presented in the September 2010 issue.
A. This tool was used to shape the horns on cattle, specifically, Ayrshire dairy cows, in the days before de-horning or polled cattle were in vogue. The two rings were placed on the horns and the leather strap secured the device to the head. The bolt was tightened periodically to slowly turn the horns to the desired shape. Once that was accomplished, the device was removed. Ayrshire cows were known for the upsweep of their horns, which did not occur naturally. “The item is made by C.H. Dana Co., Hyde Park, Vt.,” says E.L. Fullerton, S. Woodstock, Vt. Also identified by Fred W. Courser III, Concord, N.H.; Bobby McCampbell, Niota, Tenn.; Buck and Cathy Evans, Ft. Lupton, Colo.; and Jon Comp, White City, Kan. Photo submitted by Don McKinley, Quincy, Ill.
B. Sickle bar lawn mower. “I have a similar item that is wheel-driven,” says George Wanamaker, Macomb, Ill. “This one is crank-driven. I believe this is a light-weight mower for trimming under and around landscaping (bushes, etc.) similar to what a Monta mower was used for. It could date to about 1915, and is similar to pieces made by Dahl Mfg., a company that made crank-operated hedge trimmers.” Also identified by Steve Sylvester, Centuria, Wis.; Stephen Clemens, Mazeppa, Minn.; Buck and Cathy Evans. Photo submitted by Dave Martin, Wooster, Ohio. See patent 101,585 for a similar piece.
C. Wire vice used to terminate a .109-inch-diameter steel line wire on a telephone pole cross arm. “The .109 line wire is threaded through the cone-shaped part where it is seized by a tapered spring,” explains Jerry Otto, Shoreview, Minn. “The wire loop is called a bail. It goes around an insulator shaped like a spool that is bolted to a telephone pole cross arm. The bail is attached to the cone-shaped part by aligning flat spots near the end of the bail where blunt ends hold it. This item replaced a split-sleeve fastener that had to be crimped in place.” Correct answers also received from Donald D. Sarchet, Tulia, Texas; Galen Einspahr, North Platte, Neb.; Ivan Rogers, Centerview, Mo.; Mark Hopkins, Johnstown, Ohio; Fred W. Courser III; Ronald Globke, Marion, S.D.; Steve Sylvester; Roy Archibald, Leavenworth, Ind.; Eddie Cahill, Waterloo, Iowa; Jerry Kamp, Wooster, Ohio; Randall Jensen, Merrill, Iowa; Rush L. Wright, Keyser, W.Va.; Charlie Hileman, Lexington, Va.; Nelson Dionne, Salem, Mass.; Kris Joe Gesler, Las Vegas, Nev. Photo submitted by James Newman, Sheboygan Falls, Wis.
D. Wire stretcher for fencing. “This reminds me of a fence stretcher my brother and I became very familiar with as kids,” writes Al Rosenberger, Newaygo, Mich. “Saturday mornings during Michigan summers were fence fixin’ days for my dad, brother and me. We had a couple different types of these stretchers and one was wood. We would bend the last few inches of the wire over right next to a barb and place the wire between the ridges inside the hinge. Then we’d put the handle around the back of the post and pry the fence tight while someone else nailed or stapled the wire to the post. We both used to get a few blisters from them, as Dad would let us do all the prying. He always said that ‘being younger, you have more energy then I do.’ Seeing all these gadgets brings back a lot of fond memories.” Also identified by Bobby McCampbell. Photo submitted by Carrie Wilson, Imboden, Ark. See patents 810,003 and 513,816 for similar pieces.
To submit photos:
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To identify an item:
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