Unidentifiable Object

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    • #132811

      Would anyone happen to know anything about this type of object?  We are having trouble identifying it.  The crank lowers and raises the bottom section.  There is little to no compression involved.

      (Please have patience while I figure out how to upload a photo.)

      Dropbox Link:



    • #132824

      Please let me know if you cannot access the photos via the dropbox link.

    • #132823

      Charissa, we are not yet able to see your images.

    • #132822
      Ron Kley

      Same problem here. Dropbox reports that bthe images has been “deleted or moved.”

    • #132821

      I am so sorry.  Can anyone route me to a help page on uploading images?  I will work on fixing the Dropbox link in the meantime.  Thank you for your patience.

    • #132820

      These links work for me.  I hope they will work for all of you.


      Image 1:



      Image 2:


    • #132819
      Ron Kley

      Weird gadget! Looks as if somebody adapted a couple of different mechanisms used in cheese presses with the intention of squeezing something between the top frame member and the rising ends of the two pivot arms. But what; and why???  Maybe somebody’s whacko idea for a clothes wringer, or a nutcracker for coconuts?? Beats me. I’ll look forward to seeing what others may suggest

    • #132818

      Weird–I am not sure it is for actually pressing anything, because the two platforms in the frame don’t meet. And the winch mechanism certainly only works to move the two platforms up and down. Besides dust, is there any residue on it? I would look for traces of sawdust, or paint, or an oil like linseed oil. It just seems to be made to hold something not too heavy in place and to lift it to the height of a table or counter. Those crossed bars are a mystery. We’ll keep looking.

    • #132817
      Kathy Morgan

      It might be a press for making straw and hay bales.

    • #132816
      Lou Morgan

      It does not look heavy enough to be a press, there is not much torque possible, nor is there a holder for what ever goes in between the 2 boards — maybe that is missing. It could be for textile/fiber preparation like flax stalks. The other item in the truck is for skein winding . . .

    • #132815

      I agree with Lou that dyeing might be a use for it. However, if it was used for that, wouldn’t there be more color on the bottom of the object? The skein winder in the back of the truck might be a clue, but do we know if the two objects are related?

      From the look of the frame, it appears to me that the entire object was meant to be set in a tub or vat of some kind. There are two processes besides dyeing that come to mind:

      One: it could hold a basket of raw olives between the platforms, and the unit could then be lowered into a lye bath. Table olives are processed in lye to remove the bitterness. And the crank mechanism could raise and lower the olives without the operator getting their hands in the caustic lye bath. Also, the crossed wooden beams could act as a gentle weight to hold the top platform against the basket to keep the olives from floating out. There might be other agricultural products that need processing in a bath, but olives are the ones I know about. Did this object come from an area where table olives were grown? You could also do a simple pH test on the residue on the bottom of the frame–Lye reads as 13 on the scale.

      Two: From the pictures, it looks as if the entire frame mechanism is made of wood. There are half a dozen parts on the frame that could easily be made of metal and that would work better than the wood parts. Is this a choice of the carpenter who made the frame, or is there a reason metal could not be used? My other idea is that this frame was used to dip metal pieces in an electrolyte bath so that they could be electroplated. In this process, an electrical current is run through a conductive bath containing metals like nickel in the solution, and that anything metal in the bath would be plated in an electric-chemical process. Consequently, any of the equipment would have to be made of something other than metal. You could run a pH test on the sediment on the frame to see if it was acidic– readings lower than 7.

      In searching last night, I could not find any images of objects that match what you have. So we might be working with a unique object here, and need to check all sorts of possibilities. Be aware of any smells or surface coatings on the object–those might give you some clues–they might also be poisonous, so I would encourage anyone handling the object to be cautious until you know for sure.

      This is a great mystery–thank you for sharing.


    • #132814
      Michael Nagy

      So, in keeping with Misha’s food prep line of thinking, what about hominy or grits?

    • #132813
      Lou Morgan

      There is an organization that works with hand tools (old) and promotes agriculture with no power tools. They redesign hand tools and have a museum of agricultural tools in Michigan – but they work globally. Here is their website: http://www.tillersinternational.org

      If you think they could help you can contact them directly – an email is listed on the contact page. They have many specialties: blacksmithing, woodworking, food and fiber. Their classes are amazing, too

    • #132812

      Here is an example of an antique olive press:  http://db.tt/mnJIcQAF

      I believe the device in question is definitely not made for compression.  It’s main function seems to be related to the crank which can lower and raise the horizontal platforms.  The crank can be secured in the raised position.  The crank is not original to the piece, neither is the rope, obviously.  The purpose of the arms are a mystery to me.  We have several items at this museum that are composed solely of wood, simply because wood was more accessible than metal in this area at the time.

      I have emailed the owners of the item to relay all suggestions.  I did not notice any dry residue or distinctive odor upon inspection.  Oils may be present, but I am looking forward to seeing the results of a pH test and have offered to assist with such.  Thank you, Misha for your suggestions.  South Louisiana is littered with old French terracotta olive jars.  I would not be surprised if the two were related in some way, although our humid climate is not ideal for olive tree cultivation.

      The owners procured this item, along with the skein winder in the photo from the New Orleans, LA area.  The previous owners were collectors, of sorts.  I am not certain if the two items are related.  I can tell you that the base appeared to have been infested with a type of wood-boring beetle, perhaps powderpost.

      I have contacted Tillers International.  Thank you, Lou.

      Thank you to everyone who provided input.  I am definitely grateful for your insight and expertise.  If I received any additional information on this item I will certainly post.

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