Saturday, 30 July 2016

Mystery object


I just bought this, wrongly described as a 'candle snuffer'.

It is hand-made of nickel-plated copper and brass (the sole and heel are not plated and soldered on, but there is brazing to the top), is hollow - including the downward curving tube - and the boot is about two inches high. It looks to be Victorian in age, but could be Edwardian, and I don't know the country of origin.

My intial thoughts were that it it could have been some sort of pipe - possibly for blowing bubbles - but the downward curving tube and the folded-in rim to the top of the boot rule this out.

What the hell is it???


Maybe I should have included this close-up of the bowl-rim beforehand, because it has a vital clue about the object's potential purpose.

This top section is a thinnish pice of cone-shaped metal which has been brazed onto the rest of it and roughly finished, as you can see by the marks. The hole is acentric to the rim.

There are three quite important features about this boot thing: The cone tapers inwards, and the 'pipe stem' flares outwards as it gets further away from the boot, and it bends downwards, not upwards. I believe things were inserted into both apertures as a push-fit.

I am beginning to get an inkling by a process of considering its limited possibilities, but I will not put any ideas into your heads for fear of influencing the jury.

84 comments:

  1. It looks like a piece of jewellery but the downward curving tube is strange as it isn't a pin. Or perhaps it was something like an advertising logo for a shoe manufacturer given as a free gift with a new pair of boots.

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    1. It seems to have had some sort of use. They did make little metal boots, but not with tubes attached like this one. I thought it might be a water whistle - like a bird call - so I filled it with water and blew down it. A load of water came out noiselessly.

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    2. I found a tiny pair of metal boots in my father's desk, nickel or nickel plated copper. They looked like they were for a tie pin or something.

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    3. They have been fond of making little metal boots (and wood, and glass) since the 18th century, but this thing had a specific purpose.

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  2. I am going to take it to a dealer I know in a minute. He once sold me a mystery object which I later identified as an 18th century pineapple stand. I made about £250 on that one, and he has never forgotten it, particularly as he collects 18th century kitchenalia.

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  3. I thought perhaps a spirit measure, but the pipe (or handle) would have to be higher up.

    Maybe it's just one of those samples that young metalworkers had to produce to show their craftsmanship.

    On the other hand maybe it is a candle snuffer, only you don't so much 'snuff' the candle, as blow it out.

    Third thoughts...it's a very small teapot :)

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    1. Your breath-assisted candle-snuffer idea shows lateral thinking. We were only just talking about Edward de Bono.

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  4. I thought perhaps a spirit measure, but the pipe (or handle) would have to be higher up.

    Maybe it's just one of those samples that young metalworkers had to produce to show their craftsmanship.

    On the other hand maybe it is a candle snuffer, only you don't so much 'snuff' the candle, as blow it out.

    Third thoughts...it's a very small teapot :)

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    Replies
    1. They don't get any better by saying it twice, you know.

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  5. You put it in a ladies shoe so as you know when to stop pouring the champagne.

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  6. Replies
    1. No, don't think so - I already considered that.

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    2. I've reconsidered it - see below, but I still don't think so.

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  7. Funnel for pocket liqueur bottle?
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. A very inconvenient funnel if it is.

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  8. Replies
    1. It looks like those Chinese ones in a way, so maybe, but opium smokers don't normally go for decoration - they just want the hit.

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  9. Replies
    1. These suggestions keep getting better and better.

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    2. These suggestions keep getting better and better.

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    3. I am beginning to think you are on the right lines, Heron.

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  10. Could it go on top of a walking stick?

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  11. I think Jackie has got it right.

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    1. I think she definitely has not.

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    2. Do you know what it is yet?

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    3. Nope. I love that I don't, and I anticipate the enlightemnet withrelish.

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  12. Had there been a hook on the end I'd suggest a button hook for boots; outwith that, I haven't a clue.

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  13. For pouring olive oil into your ear

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    Replies
    1. Sinus cleaning spout thing up your nose.

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    2. Hmm... it does seem to be made using the same techniques and materials of the medical instrument makers of the era, but - in reflection - I think not.

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    3. Could it be from a barbershop? Could it have been on top of a bottle that dispenses after Shafe tonic? Or, as a last guess, could it be an absinthe dispenser.

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    4. I agree that it reminds me of these things, but it isn't any of them.

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  14. Replies
    1. Describe the mode de emploi and I will give it some serious thought.

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  15. Seriously now.
    I rather think it is a dispenser for minute doses of alcohol. Have you measured the content ?

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    1. But why would one want to dispense alcohol in such minute doses, and why is the 'spout' not at the top but in the middle, and why does the 'spout' flare out in diameter at the far end rather than the other way round?

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  16. Have you tried blowing down it ..... it could be a whistle OR a feeding tube .... rather like the ones they had in Victorian babies bottles ? I'm a bit obsessed with it now !! XXXX

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    1. If you read above, you will see that I have already tested it for a water-whistle without any musical results. As a feeding tube it would be extremely unhygenic and difficult to clean. The section at the top which you cannot see is a downward cone shape, separately brazed onto the rim. I might post a picture of it to give you all more clues.

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  17. Replies
    1. How would you clean a pipe with a pipe-shaped metal object?

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  18. I have just added another photo and text. I am beginning to understand what it COULD have been for.

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  19. P.S. Because this is hand-made and possibly a one-off, there may not be any other images around to compare it with.

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  20. I was just going to say it is an inhaler before I saw these clues. Tobacco?

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    1. If I said that I am beginning to think it may be a cigarette-holder which is missing a stem (push-fit mouthpiece) this may stop everyone from coming up with other, better ideas, but it's too late now.

      The downward angle of the pipe would stop the fag from being straight up and right under your nose, but it does seem a bit heavy to be a cigarette holder, so I am far from convinced.

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  21. Replies
    1. Are - you just crept in with this one as I was writing the above. Perhaps....

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    2. I deleted the bit about cigarettes being massed made in 1865. Too late...

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    3. You wouldn't get many cigarettes in it Jackie. I think you stuff something in like tobacco and inhale straight up your nose. If it was used in a pharmacy/medical I cant see it being in the shape of a shoe.

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    4. Oh, I see what you mean now. Sorry. Although I am not convinced.

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    5. I'm not convinced either, but - so far - this is the only activity suggested which would work.

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  22. Replies
    1. There were boot and shoe-shaped snuff boxes, but to snort it from this would be a disaster...

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    2. For a hard-core snuff user !!!!! How about a perfume bottle stopper ? XXXX

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    3. ....... I'm clutching at straws now !!!!! XXXX

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  23. It's a carry-in-your inside pocket funnel.

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    Replies
    1. No. It wouldn't work as a funnel unless you wanted to lose half of the tiny amount of liquid which you poured into something even smaller.

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  24. I've just scraped out some dark brown, tarry substance from the bottom of the boot which must have been softened when I filled it with water. There is a feint smell of tobacco...

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  25. I'm wondering if you turn this interesting little one-off upside down, and found a way to secure the tube/stem to a wall, or piece of furniture, the little boot might be something to hang a hat or jacket or something one. Does it seem to be sturdy?

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  26. I have finally figured it out. It is a 'break-the-record-of-blog-responses-thingy'! If John does not put up a post about dog snot (or the removal thereof) very quickly, you will have him beat! Ha!

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    1. Yes, I am mighty impressed with the simple trick of asking everyone's opinion. I should do it more often.

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    2. One likes to feel important.

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  27. Ok, I am now 90% sure what it might be.

    The way you smoke either tobacco or opium in a pipe is to set fire to it in some way. If you were to put a ittle nut of opium in the bottom of this boot and put a flame beneath the copper sole and heel, the heat would be distributed very nicely, and the smoke could be drawn in through the tube to your lungs. BUT - it would discolour the metalwork, and it is not discoloured. The heat would damamge everything.

    So I believe that the tarry residue is a result of untipped cigarettes being smoked through it.

    Anyone got a better idea?

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  28. I've just refined this theory - it is for smoking small cheroots or cigars. These would have preceeded cigarettes by many years, but they could have been smoked as well as Panatellas.

    It would have had a wooden or similar mouthpiece, and -despite the opium suggestion - would have become too hot on the metal for lips straight against it.

    I think I have come up with the answer, but you may have other ideas.

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  29. 76 comments for a metal fucking boot?

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  30. I would have bet on a wee princes' bubble blower, except for the tarry substance. Opium pipe. The bowl would have been larger for paltry tobacco. Perhaps they smoked hashish back then also. What a wonderful find.

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    1. I really think I should get that tar tested so I can be 100% sure. I don't think anything was burned actually in the bowl, otherwise the metal would be heat-scarred.

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