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Mr Eddie Simpson receives his prize from Cuttlestones’ Rosie Blackburn

Identity of ‘mystery’ antiques revealed...

Following a successful competition at the Staffordshire County Show that saw crowds gather to test their antiques knowledge by guessing the identity of ten mystery items, Staffordshire auction house Cuttlestones has announced its winner.

Mr Eddie Simpson of The Blyth, near Stafford, came closest to guessing the original purpose of the intriguing collection of items. He has been presented with a year’s joint membership to English Heritage, worth £77.00, giving the whole Simpson family a ticket to visit over 400 fascinating historic sites that dot the countryside. MD and head auctioneer at Cuttlestones, Ben Gamble, says:

“We had a fantastic response to the competition and it was great fun watching people trying to work out what the quirky items on display would have been used for. We certainly had some imaginative answers and Mr Simpson’s response was truly impressive; he was by far the closest to guessing each item correctly. We hope he and his family enjoy their prize and are delighted that the membership fee will go toward helping support the great work that English Heritage does in preserving the fabric of our rich history.”

As promised, Cuttlestones has also revealed the identity of the items – a truly diverse collection – which included:

A pair of Georgian Sugar Cutters which many people mistook for either an agricultural tool or early veterinary surgical instrument.

A Corncrake caller – this simple brass noise-emitting tool, with its serrated cog, had most people stumped – but it was actually used by gamekeepers to imitate the call of the now protected Corncrake. To hear a Corncrake call and see how close the noise made by the caller is, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au35iGBhcVc&feature=related

A foot protecting digging iron – Mistakenly identified as a hoof protector for animals by a number of respondents, this was actually used by workmen to protect the soles of their precious footwear in an age where a pair of boots was a serious investment.

A Great Western Railway sack hook – the clue here was in the initials ‘GWR’ on the hook. We had a number of close guesses with people suggesting that it would be used to grab sacks of grain, corn or bales of hay. Its true use was to grab sacks – probably of post – when loading trains during the golden age of the railway.

An ice-cream wafer slide – This had a few people confused, but a good number guessed correctly that this brass tool would have allowed ice cream vendors to turn out perfectly formed ice cream wafers time after time – small, medium or large?

Skirt Hooks – Back in the days where decorum demanded that ladies’ skirt hems fell well below the ankle, muddy streets could be a real problem. These decorative brass clips would be clipped to the hem of a dress or skirt before leaving the house and, via a handy chain attached near the lady’s waist, would allow her to effortlessly hitch her skirts out of harm’s way. Very few identified the correct use of these quirky items.

Antique nutcracker – The simple, brass screw mechanism of this neat, portable nutcracker would have made cracking hazelnuts a breeze. Cherry de-stoners and even thumbscrews were among the imaginative suggestions for what this unusual item may have been used for!

A Stanhope manicure set – While a number of entrants guessed correctly that this was a manicure set, not all spotted that it was actually a classic souvenir. Those with an eagle eye saw the dainty travel case held a ‘secret’ image of a well-known landmark through a tiny spy hole at the top. Incredibly popular with Victorian and Edwardian tourists, examples with a more risqué theme are highly collectable and can command vast sums at auction!

Tipstave or badge of office – This item caused considerable confusion. A small black stick, topped with a crown, it seems to have little practical use; which is a key to its identity. A symbol of the status of its holder as an Officer of the Court, or ‘Tipstaff’, it was used by the likes of Bailiffs and early law enforcement officers to prove their identity. More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipstaff

A palm protector for sail makers/menders – Sewing tough sail cotton for the shipping industry was a hard task; this durable leather strap with metal protector would have acted as a more macho version of a thimble to protect the sewer’s hand from the needle.

If you enjoyed taking part in this competition, ensure you pop into see us again at the 2011 Staffordshire County Show – we’re already plotting a new puzzler for next year! For further information on antique valuations, house clearance services and buying and selling at auction via Cuttlestones, visit www.cuttlestones.co.uk


Charlotte at Squash PR & Marketing

E: charlotte@squash-pr.co.uk

T: 07504 340 934.