Farm Collector

Answers to January 2010 Mystery Tools

To view images of all four January 2010 mystery tools and accompanying patent illustrations, click the Image Gallery link to the right.

A. We can’t identify this piece. However, Galynn Ferris, Spring, Texas, speculates this might be a balance used to weigh cotton bags in the fields. Photo submitted by George Briggs, New Braintree, Mass.

B. Ash basket/grate, as identified by Jim Horton, Corydon, Iowa; George Fogle, Mason, Mich.; Mike Obach, Belfield, N.D.; Marvin Young, Lakeville, Ohio; and Kenneth Waits, Rushville, Ind. “It’s the basket or grate to a cowboy-cowgirl tank heater. They were made of cast iron and were self-sinking,” Jim says. “They were heavy enough to stay put without being fastened down, and would burn anything from coal to corn cobs.” George Fogle adds that the basket sat on top of a closed ash container in the bottom of the heater, allowing a draft. Marlin O. Herbst, Merrill, Iowa, has a different idea. “It could be the basket from an old-time egg-washing machine.” Photo submitted by Fred Watterson, Caldwell, Idaho.

C. Automobile jack, as identified by Don Schroeder, Berger, Mo.; Roy Parmeter, Duncans Mills, Calif.; and Wendell D. Dillavou, Aledo, Ill. This jack is one from a set of four. The jack was particularly useful in storage of early cars, an easy alternative to putting the car on and off blocks. Photo submitted by Keith Carr, Prairie City, S.D. See patent 876,824 for this jack.

D. Lineman’s climbing iron, as identified by Marlin O. Herbst. Photo submitted by Alan Johnson, Lake Mills, Iowa. See patent 1,632,688 for a similar item.

To submit photos:
Send prints to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send digital images to:

  • Photos should be taken in a well-lit area against a plain background. Include dimensions and any markings on the piece. We cannot guarantee every photo will be published, nor can we respond to inquiries regarding when photos will be published. No photos will be returned.
  • Digital photos should be sent as .jpgs at a minimum of 300 dpi.

To identify an item:
Send answers (accompanied by your name and address) to Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send e-mail responses to

  • Published on Jan 20, 2010
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