What is this thing?

Okay, you smart people out there.

What is this thing?

Which I think it’s used in the kitchen.  Or maybe not.  A sewing thing?

No, it isn’t mine.  No, I don’t have a better photo.  No, I haven’t a clue.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Fr. Z's Kitchen, Lighter fare, Preserved Killick and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Maltese says:

    It looks unto me to be a Victorian nose-cleaner.

  2. Velle Mere says:

    My first thought was that it might belong in a sewing basket, as a tool to push out and form better corner seams.

  3. Could it be a tool for removing the stem and core from a tomato?

  4. neworleansgirl says:

    I think it might be for sewing. It doesn’t strike me as a kitchen tool at first glance.

  5. thymos says:

    Is it used to hold down pastel-striped terry cloths in fuzzy photos?

  6. kab63 says:

    My DH (a gadget aficionado), when shown the photo, suggested a sewing device to help fold seams. I would say, between him and Velle Mere, and with the corroboration of neworleansgirl, you have an answer.

  7. Irene says:

    My first thought also was of an old sewing implement for corners. I have a modern plastic device, a point turner, for that purpose.

  8. Charivari Rob says:

    Since you suggested it’s a kitchen item, my thought is that it might be employed when you’ve broken a cork in a bottle. Drive it in, past the floating cork, draw the fragments back to the neck, as the narrowing sholders of the bottle press those fanlike pieces in, holding the fragments tight.

  9. Anne C. says:

    I was just going to say exactly what Velle Mere said. I wish I had one!

  10. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I believe it is a finger press, for pressing open seams during sewing, eliminating later pressing. Irons didn’t used to be as easy to use as they are now.

  11. William says:

    Lemon reamer!

  12. LaudemGloriae says:

    I believe it is a mini iron … there are modern equivalents for quilting, but a mini one was used long ago for pleated ruffs and bonnets. Here is a link to something similar:


  13. Supertradmum says:

    I have no idea but I inherited one from my grandmother, who was both a great cook, a milliner, and a seamstress. However, I thought it had to do with shoes. I lost track of it a long time ago. But, I got it in Iowa. Her hem holder was like a measuring thing, which lay flat and was rather heavy. This thing is almost like an awl, or piercing tool, but not as strong. It was with her kitchen stuff. My other grandma had hem weights, made out of stone.

  14. Fr-Bill says:

    My wife agrees with Velle Mere.

  15. Andrew says:

    This tool is used on priests who like to insert their own ad lib liturgical comments.

  16. medievalist says:

    Whatever it is, it looks pre-1962 so it must be ok.

  17. Patti Day says:

    I go with the idea of a quilting tool. First you sew the cut pieces together, then you turn them right side out and push this tool inside to get those sharp star points. I have to say though that the idea of using it as a prod has appeal.

  18. Phil B says:

    Whale harpoon in the land of Lilliput.

  19. jmgazzoli says:

    You use it to quone someone.

  20. AnnAsher says:

    For fashioning smooth corners when seeing

  21. APX says:

    I’ve seen one of those at my Grandma’s. No clue what it is, but my grandma’s in her mid-80s, so that might give you somewhat of a time period it’s from.

  22. Eric says:

    I agree with Father Bill’s wife.

  23. Michael Floyd says:

    I think it’s a pottery tool

  24. ghp95134 says:

    It looks like the antique version of the quilting iron:

    Or … a sleeve-iron:
    French and English Long Handle Sleeve / Seam Irons These were used for final finishing of the day’s outfits in those pesky hard to reach areas like arm-pits, shoulder areas and the like.

    On the left is a teardrop English version with the Colebrookdale logo on top. Plain, simple, utilitarian, reserved if you will. And on the right is one that is identified as French, with flowery decorations and a warm appealing look to it.
    [source: http://www.patented-antiques.com/Backpages/Irons_Bkpg/hatter.htm%5D

    –Guy Power

  25. hausmutti says:

    Could it be a larder? Used to insert lard under the surface of meat for tenderness?

  26. jarhead462 says:

    jmgazzoli-LOL! (obscure Seinfeld references are the BEST, Jerry, the BEST!)
    I think it’s a sewing thing. I recall seeing something like that in my grandmothers’ stuff

    Semper Fi!

  27. My late mother (1913-2006) was a professional seamstress in the first half of her life, and she had one of these. Guy Powers is correct. It could also be used for testing and adjusting mitred corners on sewn items before stitching them. (I don’t recall her using it on mitre-wearers, of which there was one regular visitor in our household, although with her personality it would not have been beyond imagination…)

  28. Supertradmum says:

    I appreciate these comments, as I used it in the kitchen for coring soft fruit. Poor Grandma…

  29. Tina in Ashburn says:

    It is obviously the old-fashioned pointer for an old-time manual computer screen.

  30. MattW says:

    If there is a hair’s breadth of a space between the wings, it is a segmenter for grapefruit, and truly one of the most useful pre-noon kitchen devices ever invented but alas not now available even from gourmet kitchen shops.

    After you cut the grapefruit into hemispheres, you place the exposed membrane that is between each segment in the space between the wings, and then gently push down so that the wings separate the grapefruit flesh from the pith. It makes the whole grapefruit experience so much more enjoyable.

    If there is no space between the wings, I have no idea.

  31. missy says:

    This sounds incredible for such a small, delicate-looking hand-held thing, but after I emailed your photo to a friend who sent it to a friend, I received this response:

    “Marianne is an ex-neighbour of ours from England, now in Wales, and is Afrikaaner by birth (S African Dutch). From what she says it may be the thing that pulls all the masts and rigging etc upright.”

  32. missy says:

    Addendum: in his original reply, my friend who said it was for pulling the masts and rigging of a ship upright neglected to tell me he meant a SHIP IN A BOTTLE!!

  33. Denita says:

    I agree with the idea that it’s used in sewing.

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