Let’s Play What’s That Mystery Object!

Here’s a puzzle for you to solve: what is this nineteenth century mystery object?

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 (now 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?

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Let’s Play What’s That Mystery Object! — 5 Comments

  1. Maybe for holding something like a lognette, glasses without earpieces, so you can raise them to your face without getting fingerprints on them?
    But I think those had handles for doing so.

    Or to hold a match at some little extra distance to light a fire without needing to get close enough to risk one’s clothing catching fire?
    Pure speculation on my part!

  2. Ready for the answer?

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    Actually, it’s a skirt lifter: a lady would clamp this onto the hem of her skirt and use it to lift it out of the dust, mud, or other more objectionable substances she might encounter when out walking or when confronted with stairs. Ingenious little thing…though I might think two would be even more useful.

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