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Does anybody know what this device is? I am burning with curiosity!

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    Posted 8 years ago

    (7 items)

    We saw this at our favorite junk/antique/vintage store and I am SO curious as to what it is. The owner has never seen one and doesn’t know what it is. He took it to a clockmaker who said it isn’t a clock, but he also doesn’t know what it is. Has anyone ever seen one, or know what this is??

    The two larger faces start at 100 at the top and go in increments of 5. The hand on the left moves clockwise and the one on the right moves counterclockwise. The small middle face has 50 at the top and also goes clockwise in increments of 5. On that smaller face is an even smaller gauge (?) that measures (?) in thousandths. There are 16 (finger tabs?) at the bottom that when pushed move the hands on the faces. Each finger tab has a place where a small metal flag with a number on it hangs. Most of them were missing, but I think they ran 1 through 8 on one side and 8 down to 1 on the other side. The tabs on the left are zinc colored, and the ones on the right are brass. Above the finger tabs is a wheel that turns. It has numbers from 1 to 24, and each time it turns it displays one number counting up to 24. There is a re-set button to make all the hands point straight up, and the 1 through 24 wheel go to the number 1. Because it has a wheel with the numbers 1 through 24, that makes me think of the hours in a day, but I have no idea if that’s correct. On the back there is a place to fit a key to wind this thing. It is missing the two panels that folded up to enclose it, but originally it had two wooden sides that came up to surround it so that it could be protected and carried; so whatever it was once used for, it was portable, and about the size of a briefcase. There’s a small handle on the top. There is a small angel on one side, and a place where another one sat on the other side, but it’s no longer there. Anyone have any idea what it is? It was found in a horse barn, although we have no idea if that has any bearing on where it was originally used. There are no maker's marks, or dates.

    Help me! My curiosity is burning!!

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.


    1. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      hey blunderbuss you got your ears on this one

      here's my guess syekey -- appears to be an old weather station or data collector -- the top gauge would read barometric pressure -- the two below would read the high and low temperature of the day and the gauge below would be the date -- can you post pics of the back and also a close up of the brass sinkers below the date gauge -- appears to be 16 of those -- any writing on them or anywhere else on the back -- will look forward to see more pics -- have a great weekend

      hopefully blunderbuss will see this posting -- he always is a super sleuth on these types of items
    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      The "super sleuth" sees sleepless nites ahead pondering this.
    3. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      Do the hands turn in unison, 1 revolution of the smallest hand moves the the next one 1 increment & so on.
      When you push the tab does it move by one increment on just the one dial or are both moved in unison?
    4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      That was my 1st thought when I saw what looks like a a floating compass but then it is stated that it only goes to 24 instead of 36 (360 degrees). If for weather, it is way too ornate for a gov't station.
    5. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Is the cherub part of it ? If so it would seem to be in a house or church rather than a ship . I also think the bottom numbers are date . Early astrology ? designed to calculate astronomical positions ? just a guess
    6. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Unfortunately, I cannot wind it as the key is missing! When I push one of the 16 tabs at the bottom, the hands on the two larger faces move in clockwise, and one counterclockwise. The cherub IS part of it, there were two, but one is missing. It's made to be portable, not stationary. I don't have pictures of the back, but I will get some and post them next Saturday. It isn't in my possession right now, unfortunately! What is measured from 1 to 24 besides the hours in a day? And the 16 tabs at the bottom? One through eight and then eight down to one. My brain is smoking!!! Ha.
    7. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      The little cherub doesn't have wings.. is that significant? Maybe it's just a child and not a cherub? I am not knowledgeable in those sorts of things.
    8. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      The back has no decoration. It just looks like, well, the back of something. I will get pictures as soon as possible, though. I wish there were a maker's mark, or a patent date, or something!
    9. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      My friend Kristi says this: I don't think it's nautical because that kind of metal would quickly rust with salt water. It's ornate-design lends to the possibity that it could have been a steam meter for a building that was steam heated (turn of the century). To protect the metal from weather damage whatever door that is missing could have been glass for easy viewing, hence the ornate design of the actual gauges. ?
      Portable! I forgot about that part in your description. Hmmmm, I wonder if the salesmen who sold gauges to building contractors needed a way to take his products to each client and demonstrate how it works and looks? Perhaps the finger tabs were ways to demonstrate different situations that gauges would need to be used in or with. ???
    10. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      If the two main dials move in unison, that means they are geared together.
      When you press the the keys do the hands move one way for the left keys & opposite for the right keys?
      A steam meter would need fittings & you don't mention them.
      My first thought was a meter like the ones used for water, or electricity, but you wouldn't need to wind such a device, as they are driven by the product that is being measured & don't have to be reset.
    11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Something this nice & well made just has to have a makers name or mark. It has to be there somewhere. Or another item left by aliens to confuse us.
    12. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      There must be something on the inside. There are two screws just below the two large dials, the must hold the back in place,if there are none on the back.
      You may be right B'buss, it could have been left by them ancient aliens.
      I've been searching game scoring devices, but no luck so far, might have to change directions.
      Two teams of eight players???
    13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Don't have to be ancient aliens. Maybe they are advanced in some fields and behind in others.LOL
      The cherubs etc. are made to impress so it is not just a scientific instrument. I'm going to try a sleeping pill. Oh, wait, Bob left a joint here! Now where is that thing. D-mned, I don't have his ph.# & he's slow on email. OK, take pill & fall asleep while searching the house.
    14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Well, it didn't work quite as planned. Found what Bob left but now can't remember where the sleeping pills are. Nor the medicine cabinet! LOL
      What's stumping us is that we don't know what to relate the numbers to. They just don't match any scale that I remember. Oh, just remembered where the w/c is!
    15. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Belling, it already is!
    16. pw-collector pw-collector, 8 years ago
      On the top dial below the center post there appears to be (4) letters (IMND)? Not sure, picture very grainy when enlarged.
    17. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Wondering if the "key" is in the top dial missing both hands. large scale goes to "50" & the small scale goes to "10". Sorry, thinking out loud.
    18. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      Sean this thing could tell stories, but it ain't talking.
    19. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      I think those letters are the numbers 10 and 0, starts at 0 ends at 10.
    20. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      wondering why of the sixteen "floats" 8 are silver in color & 8 are yellow in color -- something to do with 16
    21. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      walksoftly re: #21. Think you got it. Epson233, it's "size" not colour that counts. LOL
      I'll throw that into the mix anyway because nothing else seems to work. Even sent this to a designer/engineer friend. Syekey1, "You at lot of trouble". (quote from an immigration officer in Nevis).
    22. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      @epson see comment #13, I could be way off "base":/
    23. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      This is just causing my OCD to go into overdrive, I won't be able to sleep tonight & have a 6 hour drive tomorrow.
      Damn those aliens or apprentice watchmaker with a cruel streak in him!
    24. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      It's all witchcraft someone burned at the stake for making this thing!
    25. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Belling, sounds like you're doing the back-stroke since you clk'd on this "thing". You don't get away that easy!
    26. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Oh, God, if it's made by Limeys, it could be Whitworth or Romana! As if the issue wasn't confused enough!
      It doesn't measure anything so it has to count or time something.
    27. pw-collector pw-collector, 8 years ago
      A far reaching guess. With the little statue of child playing an instrument, could this be an early form of a metronome? Counting beats per minute.
    28. toolate2 toolate2, 8 years ago
      Wow! You say this thing winds with a key...and by pressing those finger tabs you can make the hands move.... I'm thinking it's part of the HG Wells time machine!! You've got years on the small dial, decades on the left,and centuries on the right. What's missing isn't another child figure...What's missing is the likeness of an old
    29. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      I'll vote with pw-collector. Now can I get some sleep?
    30. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Ok, I have to say I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon this website. I have never been so entertained! Thanks, friends :) Alright, are you ready for this? A friend of mine spoke with a man in England who is 90% sure this is an old Snooker score keeping device. What do you all think? I don't know the game of Snooker, but apparently this is what it is.
    31. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      ...Maybe we can all sleep now :) ?
    32. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      I looked at some antique snooker(pool) scoring devices and none looked anything like yours ?
    33. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      So it's a snooker metronome. All in favour, raise you hand(or whatever).
    34. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      I didn't see anything last night in billiards, pool, or pin pool/billiards for keeping score that was mechanical.
      Damn it now I'll have to look again.
    35. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Hey, walks, I was ready to go with you witchcraft idea yesterday! Maybe it's for skittles.
    36. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      @ B'buss Had to look up skittles, I wondered what this had to do with candies, thought you were losing it.
    37. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Sorry, I'm not into candies but have played my bit at skittles. Fun stick game which is all angle shots similar to training for snooker.
    38. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Manikin, I can't find anything that looks like it, either! However, the man who says he thinks this is what it is, is in some sort of snooker collecting/playing club. Though he did say he was 90% sure, not 100%.
      I love the men's comments, here. Thanks for the laughs :)
    39. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Syekey1, get your friend to say 100%. Some people just don't know when to lie! I want closure so I can get a good nites sleep. I'm afraid to go to sleep. Last time, I dreamed I was French & scared the crap out of me!
    40. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      LOL Blunder and Bro you 2 are funny . I am not sure any pooh hall has cherubs on their score boards so I need to ne convinced it belongs in a home or church or something that is this ornate would fit the décor not a smokey old pool hall. Do you not have Skittles in Canada a kids candy that is awful bro. You guys do what you want with your skittle I am saying it is to feminine for a pool hall . I think it timed all the house maids in a mansion :-) Blunder I get your nightmare I had that one once too :-)
    41. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Not sure if frame is original to it those hinges look pretty new and handle ?? You can't sleep yet Blunder :-(
    42. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      Yes Sis we have skittles that's why I was confused with his reference to candy!
      I noticed those bright hinges as well.
    43. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      wow I just read my post and dumb spell check changed my words . I do hope you know a few words were off , well maybe there is a pooh hall some where but I meant pool hall LOL
    44. pw-collector pw-collector, 8 years ago
      Pooh Hall - The narrow corridor in Winnie's house.
    45. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Asleep!! I was just checking for holes in my eye-lids.
    46. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      ep -------
    47. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      lol pw-collector , didn't he live in a tree or just hang out by one all day :-) good one you got me :-)
    48. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Blunder wake up !!!!! Plenty of time to sleep when were are gone now we need to know what this is . I will be seeking psychiatric care soon pondering this :-)
    49. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      I've already had to seek psychiatric help over this thing:-)
    50. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      hi syekey1 -- manikin makes a good point -- that perhaps the unit does not go with the frame -- is it possible to have pics posted showing the handle and sides of the frame -- is the frame wood or cast iron

      i find those 16 "floats" (for lack of a better description) -- 8 silver 8 gold -- perplexing -- somehow this thing must work on a similar principle of an abacus -- did some research on greek astrological clocks last night -- to no avail

    51. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      hi members

      this contraption is showing up on this site -- check it out

      in my humble opinion -- anyone who thinks this is a snooker counting device -- can contact me -- i have swamp land in florida i'd like to unload -- come on give us some credit!!!

    52. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      ahhhhh yes -- 2am here and the mental masturbation continues on this one -- this is an interesting site -- currently reading it -- thought i would share with the rest of you guys -- hopefully something will shake out -- if we all end up in the looney bin at least we will be in good company -- several of us are going to go to the cuckoo nest if we don't solve this soon -- lol members
    53. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      oops -- forgot to copy -- here is the site -- still was on the last site visited
    54. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Driven to psychiatric help. Knew I was going to get along well with him as soon as I saw the cuck00 clock in the waiting room.
    55. pw-collector pw-collector, 8 years ago
      Between the silver tabs and the brass tabs is a flat bar with a ring at the bottom that something attaches to, or is that what you are referring to as the "reset" button. With this having a place to wind with a key, it makes me think it has to be some kind of timer. Seeing the working mechanism with the back removed would save us all from going to the psychiatrist.
    56. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Ready to take meds soon ! The cherub boy blowing trumpet makes me think it sounds off and he represents the noise it would make as he blows horn . Going back to a timing mechanism of some sort ????? Syekey will have to chip in on all our psychiatric bills on this one :-)
    57. pw-collector pw-collector, 8 years ago
      I think this is the song he is playing:

      People like to shake you up and put you down
      Run you all around, drive you crazy
      Like to steal the roses right out of your bed
      Get inside your head, drive you crazy
      Never really knew what love could be, yeh
      Never really thought about you and me, yeh
      Crazy - I really wanna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy
      Crazy - I really wanna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy

      Everybody tells you how you ought to be
      What they think they see, they can’t teach you, no
      Big world on your shoulder, it don’t mean a thing
      If that song they sing, hey - don’t reach you
      Never really knew what love could be, yeh
      Only want to think about you and me, yeh

      Crazy - I really wanna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy
      Crazy - I really wanna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy
      Crazy, crazy
      Hey baby, baby, oh, oh, oh

      Crazy, crazy, crazy
      Crazy - I really wanna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy
      Feel like I’m gonna go crazy
      Crazy - feel like I’m gonna go crazy

      From the album gravity’s rainbow
      Written by: n & p giraldo & m grombacher & f linx


    58. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      LOL Dave you sing good ! :-)
    59. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      There is another option available he. The price of scrap brass is very high. LOL
      No need for help on psychiatrist's bill. I'm negotiating on buying his cuckoo clock.
    60. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Cuckoo clocks are nice Blunder if you don't mind hearing chirping in your head all day lol
    61. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Mani, I've been in demolition, artillery, lots of shooting, around angry women & aircraft. I doubt I will hear the clock for the ringing in my ears! Eh?
    62. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      :-) Blunder women fit right in with sound of gun fire ? Wow you have been hanging with wrong one's :-)
    63. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      I will take more pictures and post them as soon as I can. The casing is wood, and original. The hinges may be new, but the doors to it, which aren't pictured, are original.
      Epson233, I tried to follow the link you posted, but my brain is very tired and I wasn't up to searching through that Facebook page. I will try again tomorrow :)
      PW- Collector (Dave) I doubt I can get a picture of the back showing the mechanisms because they are not visible simply by looking at the back. The back is just flat metal looking. It belongs to a 'picker' I know. If it were mine, I would open it and look inside! It was taken to a clock-maker who looked inside and said it was not a clock of any kind, however, he was interested in buying it, so I wonder if he knows more than he admitted to. Either way, this mystery is NOT solved and I am still burning with curiosity!
      Has anybody read Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus? In it, there is an amazing device that I wish was real...I don't remember the details, but basically they can watch the past as if they are watching television with the ability to dial in to certain moments, people, or objects. I would love to be able to do that! Ha
    64. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      It's too bad you can't take off the back as that's where the details to solving this may be. You're correct the the clockmaker may know more than he's letting on, or like me he is fascinated by mechanical things & wants to figure out how it all works.
      In reference to comment #13, does the friend not want open it, did the clockmaker not look inside.
      I think we would all pay to have him/her open it, just so we can finally resolve the story behind this curiosity.

    65. epson233 epson233, 8 years ago
      hi syekey1 --
      in regards to comment 72 -- just click on the following

      scroll clear down till you see your object -- a greg watson has the same thing posted on that site -- are you greg or related or perhaps purchased from him -- he is the one that thinks it is a snooker whatever
    66. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Oh! Thank you, Epson233. My name is Jessica, but yes, Greg is a friend of mine. He's helped me discover information about things before, but I didn't know he'd posted on Facebook. Lol. What Greg told me is that he spoke to someone in England who is a snooker collector, and that is the person who believes that this device is a very old snooker score keeping device. He's also another one interested in acquiring it. The thing is, since I haven't heard from anyone who is 100% sure about it, I still consider this unsolved!
    67. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Walksoftly; the clockmaker did open it and look inside. I wish I'd been there to see it. I am going to get more pictures on Saturday, June 15. I wanted to yesterday, but I wasn't able to make it there!
    68. Manikin Manikin, 8 years ago
      Whatever it is it is very desirable that the clock man wanted to buy it . They know what it is and just are not telling you . I would venture to say it is rare so don't part with it tell you get a honest expert to tell you what it is .
    69. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Maybe he is an alien & needs that machine to return to his planet? Nanu nanu.
    70. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Hello everybody. I have more photos! Only four photos are allowed! I have more, though! Has anyone had any other ideas? A machine for an alien to return to his home planet is a good one ;)
    71. SEAN68 SEAN68, 8 years ago
      I would email a auction house a major auction house like christies:)
    72. syekey1 syekey1, 8 years ago
      Good idea, Sean68 :)

      I posted under this same title, with parts I, II, III, and IV including additional photos :)
    73. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      I usually can come up with something because of design, etc., but this one has me totally stumped. For your sake, I hope the aliens aren't subscribed to CW & come riffle your home to get their machine back. Being honest again, - I'm looking forward to being able to clk-on "unsubscribe from this post"!

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