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Mystery Tools

Throughout its history, TATHS has always provided a service to identify puzzling old tools. Queries can come from anyone - museum curators, collectors, or someone clearing out a relative's shed. Whatever the source, TATHS members like the challenge of identifying and explaining mystery objects! These "Whatsits" have been published in our quarterly newsletter - and still will be - but this section of the website will feature a selection of them, generally with bigger pictures than we can print in the newsletter. If you have any answers, or just guesses that might be helpful, you can add them in the comments. To submit a query, take some photos and email them with your question to our Queries Editor, at queries@taths.org.uk.


Also visit our Facebook page to see more mystery toolsfacebook


A 16 inch Badger plane by Greenslade, well-balanced and finished, with an angled blade and a fence on the right hand side. But it doesn't add up.......... 

Have you ever seen one of these? A routine query in Benchmark, one of our partner, publications shows just how interconnected we are these days.   

Trevor Kilminster  is trying to research these scissors.

One of our members has been in touch recently about some planes acquired at  the David Stanley Auction held on January 14, 2021.

Ted has asked for our help in identifying on old tool he has inherited.  It looks like a type of rivet gun and operates in a similar fashion.

Mike Pim-Keirle sent this item to us as a query. It is a tool which frequently turns up at car boot sales and the like and I thought it worth putting on the website and providing some background, courtesy of Jane Rees. 


Steve from the United States is a collector of vintage machinists/engineers tool chests and is looking for information on the maker of CQR engineers tool chests. We have referred him to the Hawley Collection but does anyone recognise the chest and its design?

Comment on Facebook. 

This is an interesting tool, sent to us by Abram of Science Island.

Neil Gibb purchased this plane recently and it was in a well-used state.

The tool in the photos attached was given to our secretary by his window cleaner, who also does house clearances.  The tool is 11” long overall and stands 5 and ½” tall when clamped to a bench.

Jacob Lambert has approached us for an answer to an unknown medieval technique.

Found recently in a market in Cape Town, South Africa. Any ideas? 

Comment on Facebook 

 IMG 6912

Stuart has been told that this tool is either a heliograph, a scoop for measuring grain or something to do with powder for guns..

With Customs&Excise, anything is possible......

Comment on Facebook 


Ella  has a collection of tools that she would like to know more about. They came together in a round turned beech wooden box. There are 50 metal tools with a variety of degrees of curvature at the tip.

I was looking through a box of my tools recently and came across this 5lb English pattern felling axe, marked I.Littlewood, Sheffield.

One of our members has recently acquired a rule by W. F. Stanley of a type that we have never seen before.

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