Monday, May 18, 2009

Mystery Object Contest #3: What is it?

Well, here it is:
I told you it would be diabolically difficult!

This little metal 19th century whatchamacallit measures 5 inches long and 2 inches at its widest. The black cord attached to it is 3 feet, 10 inches long and has a loop at its end. I am not quite sure of what the material is—perhaps steel, as it is quite sturdy, or maybe German silver (an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc.)

As you can see from the pictures, the little circular piece with a daisy on it slides up and down the shank, permitting the object to open and close quite securely. The flat disks at the bottom which almost meet when the object is closed have what looks like desiccated rubber pads with a somewhat worn but still noticeable raised "tooth" pattern on their insides.

Care to venture a guess on the identity of this very useful (at least to a 19th century lady) item?

All correct guesses on the identity of my latest Mystery Object left in the comment section between now and next Monday night will be entered in a drawing for a signed review copy of Betraying Season…if no one guesses correctly, I’ll draw a winner from among all the commenters, so go for it! Don't forget to stop by next Tuesday when I'll tell you what this is, and post the list of fan flirtations--just what you'll need to know as warm weather approaches!

13 comments:

Natalie said...

Okay, I'm going to guess that 19th century ladies used this to hold their noses closed when strolling through the stinky streets on London. ;-)

Ello said...

I would love to win this! And I think I know what this is, although the rope part is throwing me. But I think it's a skirt lifter cause they had those long skirts and didn't want to get them dirty so I think it clamps on the end of skirt and they attach it to their wrists? And they lift it up when they walk in dirt or something.

My second guess was a Victorian leash for children.

Llehn said...

Um, something to help curl their hair?

I am stumped.

Addie said...

It looks like a VERY small hairbrush.

Dara said...

No clue. I think it has something to do with a dress, holding something up, but what I'm not sure...I was gonna say something similar to Ello, but the clasp looks awfully small to grab a significant amount of the hem to keep it out of the mud.

Perhaps it helped pin something back. I don't know :P

Anonymous said...

When they're dancing or walking they hold up their skirt, so I guess it's a skirt holder.

+BookBegger

lyzziebit(at)yahoo(dot)com

Emily Ruth said...

good lord, that's odd-looking O.O

um.. maybe it crimps those little pieces of hair at the hairline for up-dos?
I have no idea.. can't wait to hear what it is!

Joanna said...

According to this picture http://farm1.static.flickr.com/28/101898383_4910a41c27_o.jpg I found on google, the item is a Victorian skirt lifter. According to the note card in the picture, Ladies would pull on the rope, or leather string attached to the lifter and the skirt would come up. Which would have been very useful for a 19th century lady especially when walking across a muddy street or up the stairs.

Jane said...

I also think it's a skirt clip, sometimes called a CHATELAINE.

Sara Lindsey said...

It does indeed appear to be a Victorian skirt lifter, though I love Natalie's suggestion!

Sarah said...

It looks like a skirt lifter to me, although I always thought that instead of sliding the daisy part up and down, you pinched a pair on tongs at the top...

imso-oxymoronic said...

I think that it might be some sort of dress/skirt lifter. The rope is so long so that the woman can pull up on it and lift their skirts. What victorian woman would want mud on their dress?! Scandelous!!

Ammietia said...

I think it would be a skirt lifter too, though it seems kind of small?