Taths logoTools and Trades History Society

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

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.

Jim Krackoiwecki would welcome some help in identifying this plane, which he bought from the UK just before Christmas.

Bruce and Mary Edwards would welcome help with identifying this tool. We have no idea at all.

This tool occasioned quite a lot of correspondence between Committee members. 


Last year I was lucky to find this set of 5 ogee handrail planes by R.NELSON with, I think, his 1817-1822 mark.

 If you would like to make a donation to TATHS click on the donate button   DONATE   Thank you.