What is it? Answers 155

Thursday, February 01, 2007

890. Salesman's sample of a transom window operator, it's mounted on the door frame and the handle is turned to open and close the window.

891. According to the person who sold this to its current owners, it's a railroad communication device. If men were working on the tracks and needed to know when a train was coming, someone would walk a mile or two up toward where the train would come from. A .22 caliber blank was put in the small hole in this item, then when the train was spotted, he would suspend it over one of the rails and drop it, firing the blank and alerting the workers of the coming train.

I haven't been able to confirm this explanation, and I'm thinking that it's only partly true. I believe that it's a noise making device that uses a .22 caliber blank, but I have doubts about whether it was really used by rail workers. A different railroad warning device is called a torpedo, and is made from a small dynamite charge.

892. Cork press, patent number 68093.

893. Electrical high voltage line fuse

894a. Powder wedge, it was filled with gunpowder or pyrodex and used to split logs too large for a sawmill to handle. The hole in the side is for the fuse, and a chain with a spike on the end was attached to the ring, with the spike driven into the side of the log so that it would not fly too far from the explosion.

894b. Similar to the wedge except that a hole must be drilled for it, the flag is to make it easier to find after detonation, these could also be used on tree stumps.

895a. Gold and silver counterfeit coin detectors, a coin was placed in the appropriate slot, if it was heavy enough to cause the scale to go down then they were made of real gold or silver. If the scale did not tip then the coin was counterfeit, very worn, or had some of the precious metal removed and was therefore unacceptable.

895b. Patent number 187936

Text on this scale reads:
Gold and Silver Counterfeit Coin Detector
Pat'd Feb. 27, 1877
U.S. Standard
Berrian Mfg. Co. N.Y.

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