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The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless contraptions that revolutionized farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Here are six sent in by readers. Do you know what they are? Answers to the August 2019 items will appear in the October 2019 issue.

Answers for new items in this issue must be received by Aug. 2, 2019.


A. Found in a load of potatoes. Piece measures 3-1/2 inches long. One-inch bore, tapered. Two vent holes; two straight holes.

B. Handle measures 4-1/2 inches long. Slight scorched area near the end screwed into the cast aluminum housing. Box measures 2-3/8 inches by 1-7/16 inches wide by 1-7/8 inches tall. Only marking reads Made in Sweden. The spring holding the door closed would be ruined if heated over a flame.

C. Purchased in a box of tools at an auction. Photos show tool in both open and closed positions. Measures 18 inches long. From outside to outside of each hook, in open position, about 9-1/2 inches wide.

D. No description provided.

E. No description provided.

F. No description provided.

To submit photos:

Send prints to Farm Collector, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Send digital images to

* Photos should be taken in a well-lit area against a plain background. Include dimensions and markings on the piece, and your name, city and state. We cannot guarantee every photo will be published. No photos will be returned.

* Digital photos should be sent as .jpegs at a minimum of 300 dpi.

To identify an item:

Send answers (with your name and address) to Farm Collector, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Email responses may be sent to

Answers for new items shown in this issue must be received by Aug. 2, 2019.


A. Unidentified. Photo submitted by Henry Beckman, Loretto, Tarn.

B. Carpet stretcher. Identified by Randy Winland, Prospect, Ohio; Jerry Estes, Pana, Ill.; Bill Bracy, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Ken Smith, Marshalltown, Iowa; Albert Stier, Petersburg, Ill.; Richard Bader, Middletown, N.Y.; Gerald Johnson, Harmony, N.C.; Wayne Hayenga, Kings, Ill.; and Coles Roberts, Medford, N.J. "It appears to be missing a metal rod that would have run through the holder located halfway down the spine of the top wooden piece and then into the pointed receptacle at the end," Randy Winland says. "The operator would place the lower wooden piece (which has a plate with sharp teeth at the end) against the edge of the carpet and then push it forward to stretch the carpet. Not visible in the picture was a small trough located on the spine of the longer piece, which held carpet tacks with their points facing upwards. When the carpet was stretched to the extent desired, the operator would push the metal rod downward, which opened a small gate and allowed one tack to fall point first into the pointed receptacle. The operator would then continue pushing on the rod, driving the tack into the flooring and thus holding the carpet. The operation was much quicker and easier than many of the other stretching processes." See patent no. 67,690 for a similar piece. Photo submitted by Ward Wasmer II, Kansas City, Mo.

C. Egg scale dating to the 1920s-30s. Egg scales helped producers attain the highest compensation by allowing them to be graded into one of three grades. Scales ensured an accurate, efficient method of grading. Identified by Ron George, Dover, Kan.; Leroy Toalson, Louisiana, Mo.; Bill Bracy; Duane Bjerketvedt, Henning, Minn.; John S. Rauth, Ridgely, Md.; Wayne Hayenga; and Robert J. Smith, Craigmont, Idaho. See patent no. 1,581,468 for a similar piece. Photo submitted by Mark Animons, Jacksonville, Fla.

D. Acre counter from a grain drill. Identified by Brian Wolf, Canandaigua, N.Y.; Rick Thompson, Montoursville, Pa.; Dale Johnson, Fort Scott, Kan.; Arlan J. Miller, Lincoln, Neb.; Ken Bolton, Fall Creek, Wis.; Ray Sibra, Big Sandy, Mont.; Tom Peeper, Stillwater, Okla.; Jim Altmann, Blenker, Wis.; Armin Lendt, Sleepy Eye, Minn.; Alan Duffield, Browns Valley, Minn.; Richard Bader; Duane Bjerketvedt; Gerald Johnson; Wayne Hayenga; Jeff Miller, Gerry, N.Y.; Loretta Sorensen, Yankton, S.D.; Mark Burrell, Fairview, Okla.; Robert J. Smith; and Jacob Mast, New Castle, Pa. "To begin measuring, the operator set the meter hand to zero," Dale says. "As the drill went through the field, the meter registered the acreage as long as the drill was dropping seeds." Tom Peeper identifies the counter as being from an early model John Deere (Van Brunt), as indicated by the part numbers T79M, T111M and the part number for the frame Y180M (not MOBLY). John Deere was still using similar part numbers for acre meters (which they called land measurers) through at least 1950, Tom says. "The gear shown at the bottom of the photo was driven by a worm (John Deere called it a screw, others call it a worm gear) on the main feed shaft of the drill," he adds. "Most acre meters I've seen had three dials, so the two dials on this one suggest that it is from an early model." Photo submitted by Bill Bell, Amarillo, Texas.

E. Hand-operated can opener. Identified by Conner Sibra, Big Sandy, Mont. (who says it was invented in 1885 in Great Britain); Brad Haines, Wrightsville, Pa.; Warren D. Sizemore, Diamond Bar, Calif.; Richard Bader; Gerald Johnson; John S. Rauth; and Wayne Hayenga. See patent no. 531,762 for a similar piece. Photos submitted by Melvin Blackford, Bartow, Fla.

F. Unidentified. Photo submitted by Melvin Blackford, Bartow, Fla.
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Title Annotation:WHAT IS IT?
Publication:Farm Collector
Date:Aug 1, 2019
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