Mystery Tools April 2022

Mystery tools and implements that confound us from the genius of pioneer inventors.

article image
by Farm Collector reader

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 April 2022 items will appear in the June 2022 issue.


black oval shaped stone tool

A. Piece measures about 9 inches long. Round; formed of stone-like material.

Sharpening stone. Identified by Richard Plunz, Pond Eddy, N.Y.; Richard Bader, Middletown N.Y.; Robert Palte, Glandorf, Ohio; Al Bultman, Elkhorn, Wis.; Gerald Coker, Croswell, Mich.; Jessie D. Coyle, Cottontown, Tenn.; Earl H. Rohrbaugh, Glen Rock, Pa.; Ron Bush, Bayport, N.Y.; Harold Kaufman, Porterfield, Wis.; and Donald Mathys, West Mansfield, Ohio. Photo submitted by Richard Stout, Washington, Iowa.


long tool with prongs branching off of either side

B. Piece measures about 19 inches long. Prongs are 3 inches long and 3-1/2 inches apart. Square opening (measuring 3/8-inch) at one end; tab measuring 1/4-inch by 1/2-inch at the other end.

Rack used to dry corn in use

Rack used to dry ears of corn used for seed corn. Farmers would hang the loaded racks from the barn rafters. Tabs made it possible to hang one rack from another. “It took a lot of racks and a lot of hand shelling to get enough seed for the next year’s crop,” says Alan Easley.

Identified by Larry Harpster, Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.; Phil Jordan, Geneseo, Ill.; Vern Notestine, Frankenmuth, Mich.; Richard Bader; Dean Saunders, Spencer, Iowa; Sara Hines, South Charleston, Ohio; P.T. Rathbone, Marsing, Idaho; Loren Lindsay, Mankato, Minn.; Wesley Stalter, Chenoa, Ill.; Al Bultman; Lyle Olson, Faribault, Minn.; Albert Tibbetts, Deerwood, Minn.; Timothy Potaczek, Cornell, Wis.; Dwayne Schmoll, Dodge Center, Minn.; Dick Young, Sauk Centre, Minn.; Bill Bracy, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Harold Kaufman; Bud Zimmerman, Kissee Mills, Mo.; Sherb Mabie, Kennan, Wis.; Jack Simmons, Mt. Vernon, Ill.; Linus Schmitz; Earl H. Rohrbaugh; Ron Bush; Don Mickelson, Isanti, Mich.; and Donald Mathys. Photo submitted by Alan Easley, Columbia, Mo.


dime next to a small metal tool

dime next to a small metal tool

C. Coin shown for scale. Piece folds closed; unfolds to open.

Antique pocket watch winder key. Identified by Myron Olufson, Gatzke, Minn., and Arthur Bailey, Wilmington, Vt.

“Watches made about 100 years ago had no winding knob,” Myron says. “The back flipped open and the key was fitted on a square-ended shaft to wind the watch. The same key was also used to set the time by flipping open the front of the case. I have several such watches in my collection.” Photo submitted by Charles Cowin, Stillwater, N.Y.


metal wrench shaped tool

D. Piece measures about 6 inches long.

Specialty adjustable clamp. Identified by Harold Kaufman and Stephen Cochran, Alaska. Photo submitted by Tim Ingram, Sistersville, W. Va.


metal plow shaped tool

E. Piece measures about 2 feet at handles, 3 feet long and weighs about 70 pounds.

Grubbing machine and stump puller. Identified by Richard Bader; Al Bultman; Dennis Hamblin, Springtown, Texas; Albert Tåsh.; Duane Roach, Genesee, Idaho; Jessie Coyle; Don Mickelson; Murl Rupp, Westboro, Minn.; Harold Kaufman; Thomas Schwobe, Chilton, Wis.; and David Kill, Ashland, Wis. See patent No. 827,371 for a similar device. Photo submitted by Dennis Hamm, Union Grove, Wis.


metal pole with a wooden disc on it

F. Piece includes a pole (measuring 5-6 feet) with sharp point at one end with two small holes above the point. Hook at other end; wooden disc and a piece of rope.

Unidentified. Photo submitted by Jim Henderson, Huntley, Ill.


To submit photos, send prints to Farm Collector, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send digital images to editor@farmcollector.com.

Photos should be taken in a well-lit area against a plain background. Include dimensions and markings on the piece, and your name, city and state. We cannot guarantee every photo will be published. No photos will be returned.

Digital photos should be sent as .jpegs at a minimum of 300 dpi.

To identify an item, send answers (with your name and address) to Farm Collector, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Email responses may be sent to editor@farmcollector.com.

Answers for new items shown in this issue must be received by April 8, 2022.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment