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. Here are six sent in by readers. Do you know what they are?
Answers to the June 2021 items originally appeared in the August 2021 issue and can be found below.
A. The long handle, which is tapered, measures 36 inches long, 1-1/4 inch thick and 1-1/2-inches wide. The short handle, also tapered, measures 21 inches long and 1-1/4 inches thick. The bow (which measures 56 inches in length by 4-1/2 inches wide) is broken in the middle. The wooden bolt is 3-1/2 inches long by 1/2-inch.
B. Piece measures about 37 inches tall. Crosspiece measures about 15 inches wide.
C. What was this used for? The rough-cast tool measures about 5-1/8 inches long. The chisel end is about 1 inch wide and 2 inches tall overall. Pointed end measures about 2-1/2 inches tall. Casting is very rough on one side and has what looks to be machine marks on the other side. Chisel end shows signs of heavy hammering; pointed end shows little use.
D. Tool measures 12 inches long; round portion is 3-1/4 inches across.
E. Tool measures about 2 inches by 6 inches.
F. Appears to be a priming cup of some sort, but for what? Bottom has a half-inch female pipe.
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Answers to June 2021 Mystery Tools
A. Animal poke used to prevent animals from getting through the many early weak fences. See patent 246,355 for a similar device.
B. Craig Starr, Masonville, Iowa, believes Item B from the June 2021 issue of Farm Collector to be roughly one-half of a bucksaw, as shown below.
C. Buffer, likely blacksmith-made. A farrier’s tool used to release nails when removing a horseshoe. A nail punch on the right end is used to clean or widen nail holes in the shoe. Identified by Rob Long, Englewood, Tenn.; Ralph Curtiss, West Grove, Pa.; Jim Heder, Alma, Kan.; Murray Brown, Hamilton, New Zealand; R.L. Gorsett, Silt, Colo.; Harold Kaufman, Porterfield, Wis.; Everett W. Demeritt, No. Wolcott, Vt.; Erwin Fullerton, S. Woodstock, Vt.; Alan Wickey, Homer, Mich.; and Charles Wyatt Law, age 13, Kamiah, Idaho.
“The wide chisel is used to cut horseshoe nail clinches before pulling the shoe,” Ralph says. “The point is used to rehabilitate nail holes in the shoe before resetting it. This one was forged from a worn-out hoof rasp. You can see the remains of the teeth. Since the rasp was high-carbon steel, the chisel was probably hardened after forging.”
From Charles Wyatt Law: “This is a clinch cutter. It is for cutting clinches. When a shoe needs to be taken off a horse’s hoof, it was used to cut the bent-over nails, which are called clinches. It was not cast, but has been forged out of a horse rasp. If it had been cast, it would have been too brittle. The marks are not machine marks, but are the teeth of the rasp. The chisel end is used to cut the clinches. The pointed end is a pritchel.”
D. Unidentified. Possibly used to straighten disc blades or other bent objects.
F. Andy Hastings emailed to identify Item F from the June 2020 issue of Farm Collector as a used oil funnel. “These were (and still are) used when pouring used oil from a drain pan into a 55-gallon oil drum,” he says. “They were large enough to place the old dirty filter in the funnel to drain it. It also usually had a screen to keep junk and litter out of the drum. By closing the lid, you would lessen the chances of it catching fire if your shop had a fire.”