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brymac 23rd Jun 2021 10:15 pm

Mystery item!!
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This turned up at our local Hospice shop and they have asked me if I can find out what it is - anyone got any ideas please??? It looks vaguely telecomms.......


Dave Moll 24th Jun 2021 6:58 am

Re: Mystery item!!
... or possibly an "electrotherapy" machine. Is there anything attached to the other ends of those wires?

Also, an inside view might be revealing.

HamishBoxer 24th Jun 2021 7:25 am

Re: Mystery item!!
I think that once was an early and very nice Morse key.

brymac 24th Jun 2021 7:32 am

Re: Mystery item!!
3 Attachment(s)
Thanks - here are some more photos...... !

Station X 24th Jun 2021 8:16 am

Re: Mystery item!!
The wander plug sockets obviously aren't original.

I'd go for a medical or shocker coil. The brass rod or tubing with a terminal screw looks like one of the electrodes held in the "victim's" hands. The Nife switches probably set the step up ratio of a transformer. The "relay" appears to be wired as a buzzer interrupting the current in the primary winding of a step up transformer.

I hope the mains lead isn't part of it!!

M0FYA Andy 24th Jun 2021 8:17 am

Re: Mystery item!!
Try as I might, I can't see a Morse key there!

Dave Moll 24th Jun 2021 8:33 am

Re: Mystery item!!
The "electrode" (which were what I was half expecting to see at the ends of the wires) seems to confirm my earlier diagnosis.

I find the fact that it's mains-powered somewhat worrysome. I wouldn't recommend the Hospice shop to place it on their shelves for sale. This needs to go to someone who can give it a thorough check-over before deciding whether to plug it in.

D.Finney 24th Jun 2021 8:43 am

Re: Mystery item!!
A medical coil, probably dates from the early- mid 20th century.

The Philpott 24th Jun 2021 8:56 am

Re: Mystery item!!
I tend to agree that the wander plug terminals aren't part of the original design, but their type/appearance potentially dates back to the early thirties so the modification could have been a very early one...and were they an add-on or did they replace broken terminals of another type? Also intrigued as to the significance of the peened over brass bezel. Note the (modern) owner's label inside the lid, so Mr and/or Mrs anon presumably coveted it.

I would go for a therapeutic item* or a piece of test gear with significant bits missing.

*Perhaps the patient was supposed to grab the brass bezel..?


Nickthedentist 24th Jun 2021 9:24 am

Re: Mystery item!!
Would the top of that bezel perhaps have been glazed?

Have you Googled the former owner?

It looks home-constructed to me, or at least made by a garden shed type of manufacturer, and probably modified/modernised over the course of its working life.

Maybe best to remove the (1970s?) mains lead (or entire mains power arrangement) and sell as a objet d'art rather than as a potentially-working machine for giving shocks. Someone with enough knowledge could then put it back to its original purpose, but your average purchaser would probably just put it on display in their man cave, hipster pub, barber's shop or whatever. I'm usually very much against "steampunking", but I wouldn't feel too upset about someone doing that with this.

brymac 24th Jun 2021 9:43 am

Re: Mystery item!!
Thank you all - I think we've reached a consensus as to what it is!!

Radio Wrangler 24th Jun 2021 1:06 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
The circular brass bit looks to be part of the casing of a GPO double-current morse key

It looks to be a bit of quackery made from objets trouve. With the mains cable, it could be a joke.


HamishBoxer 24th Jun 2021 4:49 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
That is the one I have David and hence, why I thought Morse key. More so as that panel at the front does not look original. In fact nothing on it looks original.

The Philpott 24th Jun 2021 5:21 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
-Hadn't noticed the poor fit of the triple knife-switch panel, and it looks as though one of the switches is actually obstructed from closing properly..?
The box might find a use..

brymac 24th Jun 2021 5:27 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
The plot thickens!! Perhaps I ought to collect it from the hospice and have a proper look at it....!

HamishBoxer 24th Jun 2021 6:34 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
Bottom line is that it is a "Bitsa". Bits of this and bits of that.

I wonder what is in the Bakelite box in the bottom of the wooden box ?

I agree it could have been made into a "medical " device. Now who wants to try first? !

brymac 24th Jun 2021 6:38 pm

Re: Mystery item!!
But with what purpose, I wonder?? To get folks like us wondering what it was for?????!!!!

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