Friday, 11 April 2014


 Above picture shows our garden, with, in the top left hand corner, the potting shed/forge. I was doing a little leisurely clearing-out in the forge earlier this week, when I came across this weeks MYSTERY OBJECT, which is shown below. This one really is a mystery object, in that, although it's been kicking about the forge for some years, I really don't  know what it is; so I should value your opinions as to its purpose.  I perhaps should add, that having now examined it carefully, I think I do have some idea about it what it was made for.

It is heavily sprung (rather like a very large safety pin). It is about twelve and a half inches in overall length, and is obviously blacksmith made.

It has, as shown in the below picture four claws to each side of it.  If it's what I suspect it is, then one small part of it is missing. A spare pivotting point is just visible to the left of the upper claw.  Any way, all guesses (and any knowledge) would be gratefully received.


Crowbard said...

Are the outer claws each a separate strip all riveted onto the spring ends Mike?
1. A prosthesis for a one armed butcher?
2. Hippopotamus dentistry kit?
3. A bait holder for a tiger trap?
4. Perhaps Santa's carrot dangler, to encourage Rudolph & crew?
5. Primitive mole trap perhaps?

I like option 3. but I suspect option 5. is the likeliest

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. The ends of the springs are each formed with two claws, and with an extra piece of iron rivetted onto the spring ends, also with two claws, so there are four claws per arm.

Crowbard said...

Hi Mike,
I wonder if it is from the days before fridge-freezers when ice was a regular commodity, it looks as though it could handle small blocks of ice with reasonable security.
But I guess a trap for small animals is most likely in view of the vestigial trigger.....

stigofthedump said...

Come on.......what is it??? Fess up please!

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Stig. I think Crowbard got it nearly right when he guessed an animal trap. I think the missing part could have doubled as a perch/trigger, and that the item was probably made as a bird trap/catcher. If you think about the early Victorian craze for taxidermy I think we've got the purpose for this device. It would also leave the bodies in far better condition than shooting them, although I have had (and been shown)interesting guns for the same job.
When I was a boy your Great Aunt Ivy had a glass case of stuffed birds in the front parlour (humming birds, I think) although a few years later they had been relegated to a cupboard, where they could still be seen, but only on request.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. And another glass case of wax fruit - but that wasn't nearly as interesting.

Mike and Ann said...

I've just been contacted by an old friend of mine who is a very keen collector of traps (there's probably a name for it), and he tells me that the item is a fish trap; probably for pike, and very probably of Dutch origin. As Ken has made a lifetime study of traps, I see no reason to doubt his accuracy, especially as he has just bought the item from me. I've always held that knowledge should be freely available between students, dealers and collectors, and Ken is a good adherent to that principle.