Thursday, 24 July 2014


Just to give you a well earned rest from our holiday snaps (and I know how boring other peoples holiday snaps are supposed to be, although I must admit that I can't remember finding them so meself, and I usually learn something from them) here is a :-

                                 MYSTERY OBJECT.

It is made entirely of wood (although there are a couple of old replacement nails in it now) and is nine inches long. Mechanical instrument; and  complete.
I purchased it in Denmark, two weeks ago, although similar ones were made and used in England.
Its purpose and date please?


Crowbard said...

Didn't the first Irish Peelers (about 1814?) keep similar instruments in their tail-coat pocket before whistles became popular in 1884?
I assume your Danish variety is of a similar period (1810-1850)and possibly for a similar application, the general improvement of society!

Margaret Brocklehurst said...

Yes, I was going to say a rattle of some sort, possibly football? However, I have heard of the use for the early police, so I suspect Carl is correct.

Crowbard said...

I suppose as an instrument of the musical variety it would fall into the percussion section as a variable tempo repeating slap-stick. (Or with an elasticated imagination one could consider it to be a reed instrument of very low pitch!)

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard and Maggie. Between the two of you I think you've got all the relevant information. It is, of course, an early nineteenth century rattle, used by the police as an instrument of alarm and communication before the whistle became popular in its place.

If you pick up this device by the handle thingy at the left side of the photograph, and whirl the device around your head, the ratchet will give out an awful racket. I would think the terms ratchet and racket have a similar onoematoepeic root, wouldn't you?.

Pat said...

A pastry cutter.

Mike and Ann said...

I can see what you mean Pat .....or perhaps a wooden tin opener?

Crowbard said...

Our word 'racket' derives from the Arabic word rāḥet, variant of rāḥah meaning palm of the hand, which can be used:-
a) to play table-tennis ball when rackets are not available or
b) to clap together with another palm causing a noisy racket.

There is also an mid C16th. English dialect world 'Rattik' for a child's rattle.