What is it? Guess if think you know

There is a place to comment at the bottom of this page. We hope you enjoy the challenge.

August 5, 2015

Here is an interesting item for you. This piece in particular was manufactured in 1898. It is 5 1/4″ long x 3 1/2″ deep. It is made of sheet tin with a spring clamp and a wooden handle. Now it is your turn. What is it?



Answer: It is a Nutmeg Grater

July 22, 2015

It is time for this week’s “what is it?” We unfortunately don’t know when this item was made and we don’t know who made it. However, we do know it would have been used for one very specific purpose around the house. Telling you that would give it away, and we wouldn’t want to do that. Anyway, what is it?



July 8, 2015

Here is this week’s “What is It?” There is a piece missing on this item, which may make it a little bit more difficult to identify (or not). Giving you the name of the manufacturer would make this way too easy (as usual), but I can tell you this. It was made in Birmingham, England. It is not visible in either of these views and is hard to make out in person, but on the little nozzle that juts out extending from the middle of the item, it reads “10 1/2 Litres.” So, if you have any idea, what is it?




Someone guessed it on another posting. It’s a Carbide Bicycle Lamp. Made by Powell & Hanmar in Birmingham, England.

June 24, 2015

This is a unique piece from our collection. This could be a tough one. These were popular during the 19th Century. We do not have an exact date of manufacture for this piece, nor do we know who made this particular one. However, we do know what it was used for, but we can’t tell you. Telling you that would give it away. That is your job. So, what is it?



This is a 19th Century Campaign Parade Torch. This particular one would have gone on top of your hat. They were made in all different forms. They were used in torch light parades during elections in support of a certain candidate.

June 10, 2015

Here is an interesting item for you. This particular piece was manufactured by a company in Rochester, New York. The name of the company would give away the name of the item, so we have to withhold that information. It is model 35. Our records do not show an exact year during which it was made, but we would guess it was manufactured in the mid 1930’s or early 1940’s. We found a source that has the exact same model that estimated it was manufactured between 1932 and 1940. The key pictured below fits inside a keyhole located on the backside and opens it up. These were made to serve two purposes. However, telling you that information would also give away what the item is. With that said, we are leaving it up to you. What is it?





Someone guessed it in a Facebook group. It is a Multipost Stamper manufactured by Multipost Co. in Rochester, New York. Was made to make stamping packages, letters, etc faster and easier. It also served the purpose of keeping stamps from being stolen. Open it up with that key, and refill stamps. Thanks for guessing everyone.

May 27, 2015

We do not think this one will be as simple as the last one. We only have a very brief description from our records to give you. It is a mahogany box with a nickle plated handle on top, a catch/latch on the front, and as you can see it contains a bunch of metal tools. That is about all we can tell you about this piece other than the specific purpose it is used for.  However, that would spoil all the fun, so we will leave it up to you. What is it?




Someone on our Facebook page guessed Staking Tool Set. That is the correct answer. We have it categorized in our books as a Balance Staff Remover, but from further research it looks like they are most commonly called a Staking Tool Set. Thank you for guessing!

May 13, 2015

This black leatherette box contains a machine with tangled wires, hollow glass tubes, electrical fittings, esoteric dials, and a bright green lining that may cause headache and confusion if stared at for too long. It was manufactured in 1920, purchased in 1922. It was donated to us in 1988. What is it?




Well, someone guessed it after about an hour or two. It is a medical quackery device called a Violet Ray Generator. They were basically misbranded and sold as a “cure-all” for seemingly infinite health and beauty issues/needs. This particular piece in our collection was purchased in 1922 by the donor’s parents. They used it to “treat” his polio at the time. This one in particular was manufactured by Master Electric Co. out of Chicago. They were the last American company to sell Violet Rays Generators. At least that is until they too were met with a lawsuit in 1951 from the FDA, like the rest of the companies selling these quckery devices, for misbranding the product as a health and beauty aid.

March 2014

This is a small wooden box with a sliding door on the front. It would’ve been used for a specific kind of activity, but would never be suitable now. What is it?


September 2013


The above artifact is made of tin. The top piece can be detached and has a small hole in the center at the top. The item is 2 7/8″ diameter x 3/4″ high. This particular item was once part of the McFadden-Ross House and would have been a useful household item.

August 2013


I hope this week’s item puts up a little bit of a challenge! This item is made of cast iron. The base is about 3″ long and 2″ wide. There are holes to screw the base into the ground. The top of the item flares up with decorative elements on the sides and in the middle. The top of the item is about 6 1/4″ wide.

So, what is it?!

July 2013

Everyone is so good at knowing their history and guessing this artifacts! Hopefully, this one will stump most of you! Good luck!


This artifact is made from metal and with a wooden handle. There is an electric plud attached to the base of the handle. All together, this item is about 19 1/2″. The metal part is 14″ long and tapers from about 3″ down to 1″. The electric cord is wrapped in black wool, flecked with white. The cord is a little over 5′ long. So, what is it?!

June 2013


This item is made entirely from wood. It has a stand that is attached to the base with two screws. It is approximately 16 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide at its widest point and 2 1/2″ wide at its narrowest. There is a hanging hole at one end so it may be put up when not in use. When set up on its stand, this item is about 3 inches tall.

HINT: This item would have been found and used in every home during its time.

May 2013

In addition to our monthly behind the scenes blogs, the museum is also introducing “What is it?” posts. These posts will explore items from the museum’s collections; artifacts that are unusual or are things that people just don’t use any more. Can you figure out what these mysterious items were used for?

Here’s the first one, GOOD LUCK!

Rapid Washer

This item has a wooden handle that is about 35″ long with a metal cone attached at its base. On the wooden handle, there is a hand rest about a foot from the top that sticks out perpendicular and is about 4 1/2″ long. The metal cone is stamped with a maker’s mark, is 7 1/2″ long and has a diameter of 8 1/2″. The inside of the metal cone is separated by other metal pieces that have holes drilled into them. All together, the item is a little over three feet tall and is fairly light. So, WHAT IS IT?

Hint: the metal is rusted.


This item was guessed before we moved this page. It’s a clothes washer! You would use it to agitate soapy water and get your clothes good and clean!

8 thoughts on “What is it? Guess if think you know”

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