Friday, June 5, 2009

Reader Submission: Can You Identify This Mystery Artifact?

A kind reader emailed some photos and the intriguing question:

Can anyone at the Archives tell me what this handmade thingy is?

I found it in a box of cloth from
pre-1970s that a friend passed along to me. He found the box in the basement of a woman deceased in the early 70s, maybe?

(He's cleaning out the house in the wake of the death of that
woman's son -- lived in those Flo-Mar apartments by the Water Tower since they were built in the 1940s...

Kind readers, can you identify this object? You're so good at demolishing my Mystery Photos--who out there... a seamstress, an antique collector, a theatre costume expert... can pinpoint what this item is?

12 comments :

Dusty D said...

One individual at the Archives today remarked that he thought it might be a shoe-hanger. One shoe in each pocket and you hang the whole item in your cupboard.

As for me, for some reason when I first saw it I thought "Easter basket" but that makes no sense. For some reason I imagined one egg in each compartment.

It does NOT seem to be any sort of wearable item of clothing of course. So I'm guessing it was some sort of household item, as did the Archives gentleman. Hmm...

Lisele said...

Ah -- it's too small for a shoe holder. Each pocket is about 5" deep, max. I keep thinking "clothespin holder," although I don't know why.

Dusty D said...

Oops, not a shoe holder. Clothespin holder is a good idea. Hmmm. Would the clothespins stay in those bottom pockets?

Clothespin holder would match the function of the object: it only needs to be pockety *some* of the time, and presumably stored the rest of the time. So it's for some chore/task that only requires the use of pockets for limited periods of time. Hmm.

Ben said...

This looks like something my mom used to serve biscuits in. She would put it in a basket, and put a biscuit or two in each pocket. I've never asked her about it - where it came from (she may have made it herself - probably in the 1970s) or whether this was its original purpose.

Clothespins need to be kept somewhere when they're not on the line. So a clothespin holder/bag is not empty for long.

Margery Webb said...

I think it is a jewelry organizer for a dresser drawer!

Dusty D said...

Margery: That makes sense, as far as keeping things organized and untangled ("where's my jade bracelet") and keeping pricey things in a soft container. Hmm...

Dusty D said...

Ben: Whoa, an anecdote about someone actually using this item!

A biscuit cozy! Keeps them from sticking together AND keeps them warm.

Especially since your mom used it this way...this is very convincing! After dinner you could just shake out the crumbs and throw it in the drawer.

Hm, a Google image search for "biscuit cozy" or "biscuit holder fabric" turns up nothing, but that doesn't mean anything. Your anecdote is very persuasive.

Biscuit cozy might be this item's real use! Thanks for the anecdote!

jml said...

I showed my wife, and she said that's for dinner rolls. We got one as a Christmas gift two years ago. She then demo'ed it for me. Instead of a string, our newfangled one uses velcro. Here's a link to one:

http://www.ecrater.com/product.php?pid=1975490

Dusty D said...

jml: Well, I'll be darned. I am truly amazed. I couldn't for the life of me think what this was, and it seems Ben and jml have nailed it.

I think that thanks to these 2 gentlemen we can definitively say that this is a dinner roll or biscuit holder.

You guys are amazing. I mean it. I was not optimistic that we'd find out what this was--but voila, there it is!

Thank you all for your great ideas and speculations!

Dusty D said...

p.s. jml, the one in your picture is so dainty and pretty--you can see that it would really dress up the table, as opposed to just a jumble of rolls in a basket.

I love learning stuff like this!

Lisele said...

Thank you so much. I am sure that Ruth Opem made this herself (or it was a gift from another crafter). It is so cleverly constructed. I am having the greatest time going through her boxes of fabric and sewing supplies. The button box alone was entertainment for an entire long evening.

Dusty D said...

Lisele: Everyone should have a button box. I ALWAYS cut off buttons when I discard a piece of worn-out clothing. It's like a pirate's treasure chest and item #1 for crafters.