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It's a thingimibob. But what sort of thingimibob?
March 11, 2012 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: what is this? Pic 1 and pic 2. Apparently "carved mother-of-pearl with gold banding and red stones".

She bought it at a swap meet today in Australia just because it's pretty, but now she wants to know what it is. She's an online friend so I can't see it in person, although of course I can ask her if more details are required.

It is flat, and the end (gold bit) looks like something broke off inside, she thinks perhaps more mother-of-pearl.

Suggestions so far include a handle of a mirror, fan or walking stick, but it seems to me that the carving would make an impractical handle. She is getting an art deco/20's flapper sort of vibe, she wondered if it's part of a headpiece from that era?

I'm also wondering if it's ivory instead of mother-of-pearl, but what would I know?

Any ideas?
posted by malibustacey9999 to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
what's on the reverse - or is it the same on both sides?
posted by b33j at 3:56 AM on March 11, 2012


It could be a glove darner - you slide the glove over it so that you don't put stitches through to the other side.
posted by b33j at 3:59 AM on March 11, 2012


Good question, b33j, I'll ask her.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:10 AM on March 11, 2012


I think it looks like the handle of something... a brush, mirror, letter opener, etc.
posted by kimdog at 6:12 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or I could have finished reading the question. Sorry.
posted by kimdog at 6:13 AM on March 11, 2012


It might be the tail end of a broken newspaper turner. The other end would have been a long flat non sharp blade made of the same material (ivory or mother of pearl). Some of these things could be ornate since only a wealthy person would bother with a newspaper turner.
posted by jaimystery at 6:20 AM on March 11, 2012


Not necessarily a help, but have you seen this? Asker posits part of a hand mirror or brush.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shoe horn?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:30 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here are some intact hand mirrors, one with a similarly shaped handle and one with a similarly carved handle.
posted by kittydelsol at 6:52 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first link was supposed to go here.
posted by kittydelsol at 6:53 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/527479.html
some info on materials identification

And from what I've heard, if the item was mostly decorative or for pure welath flaunting, practicle takes third or fourth seat to glitz.
posted by Jacen at 8:15 AM on March 11, 2012


Looks a lot like the Victorian mirror handles I've seen, as kittydelsol says. Here's another example of what it might have looked like intact
posted by rmless at 8:36 AM on March 11, 2012


I'd vote for a letter opener or a seal stamp. See letter writing set here.
posted by beagle at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2012


That looks like ivory to me too. It could also be a carved whale tooth, from a sperm whale.
posted by fshgrl at 11:27 AM on March 11, 2012


I always thought that mother of pearl will look almost like flattened layers of silk along the edge...it isn't a solid, it is more layered...so, usually it is used in flat situations where an edge can be hidden -- think more like that back of a mirror, than the handle. The edge of that seems to look more solid, like ivory, wood, plastic, resin, glass, etc.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2012


jaimystery's suggestion: newspaper turner (found here). Another.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:11 PM on March 11, 2012


The reverse side is flat, no carving at all.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:41 PM on March 11, 2012


I'm in no way an expert, but I'd be very surprised if that's ivory.

Polished ivory has a smooth, creamy look that's virtually indistinguishable from bakelite from a distance and has a subtle grain up close. Mother of pearl glows, almost like it's being lit from within. The way the light's playing off your friend's piece looks like mother of pearl to me.

Lovely carvings, whatever the item is!
posted by Georgina at 5:42 PM on March 11, 2012


Another vote for mirror handle.

And I wish it belonged to this Deb.
posted by deborah at 5:42 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"One flat side" sounds like a mirror handle to me; the ornate side faces up, as does the presumably equally ornate mirror backing, and then the reflective side and down-facing handle are sleek so that the mirror will lie flat when not in use and not warp.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:12 PM on March 11, 2012


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