Tools Of The Kitchen

We inherited a lot of interesting stuff from Kish’s Mom, but my favorites are some wooden kitchen implements we keep in an old wooden bowl on our countertop.  They are worn smooth, with a warm patina burnished by hands of the past, and they have that evocative, somewhat mysterious element you often sense with older things.

I’m not sure exactly how old they are, but I’m guessing they date from the 1800s.  With all-wooden construction and touches like leather straps, there certainly isn’t a whiff of mass production about them.  And their precise use isn’t entirely clear, either.  Sure, there’s a cracked cookie press, and a dough roller that would leave leaf designs on pie crust, but the uses for the three items in the middle are less obvious.  They’re built to pound . . . but pound what?  Bread dough?  Meat?  Or something unsuspected that we now buy, pre-made and pre-packaged, at the neighborhood supermarket?

The three “pounders” conjure up a long-ago kitchen of hard work, sweat equity, and muscle.

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Help! What Is This Thing?

We recently came into possession of some antique items of all shapes and sizes.  The purposes of most of them are obvious, but some of them are stumpers.

Consider this item, for example.  It’s made of tin, and in the shape of a book with a handle configured like a human ear.  When you open the “cover” of the book, you find a hinged metal interior lid with a transparent plastic cover.  At each end of the interior lid, also on hinges, is a triangular piece of metals with fittings.  The interior of the “book” also includes a single red candle.

I’ve figured out that you are supposed to flip out the triangular hinges on the interior lid, place the candle in the fittings, and light it.  But, for what purpose?  Is this a kind of votive candle holder that was handed out on some special occasion?  Or, is it a precursor to the modern bedroom reading light, intended to give the 19th century book-lover some light by which to read after the sun goes down, without disturbing their bed mate?  Is that why the entire contraption is in the shape of a book?

I’d do an internet search to try to solve this puzzle, but I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Can one of our intrepid readers provide some guidance?