Mystery Object
October 20, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I found this object in a cigar box: Mystery Object views 1, 2, 3, 4. It weighs about an ounce according to my kitchen scale. It seems to be broken off of something or a piece of it was broken off (image 3).

The cigar box had things in it from my Grandfather and included stuff from when he was an airman in WWII and from his days as a pipe fitter.

Any ideas of what it is or where it may have come from?
posted by backwords to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it metal? Given that little decorative edge marking on the flat side, I would guess it's not part of a machine or anything functional, but that it's ornamental in some way.... That's all I got.. :(
posted by HuronBob at 12:05 PM on October 20, 2013

A latch or a catch or a locking mechanism.
Looks like it was once bistable, from the burnishing on the concave surface in the 4th picture.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:06 PM on October 20, 2013

My 2 cents (and, no doubt, worth even less), my first thought was that it's a cam for some machine that does something relatively complicated, repeatedly. (It reminds me of a sewing machine cam.)

This is just wild-ass speculation on my part and doesn't account for the decorative edge HuronBob mentioned.
posted by she's not there at 12:35 PM on October 20, 2013

Those are carefully machined surfaces, and it is extremely robust. It was meant to do something.

This is a huge and possibly ridiculously speculative leap, but it reminds me inescapably of gun parts I saw when I took apart my father's old Walther PPK as a kid, and that along with the fact that he did not discard it even though it's obviously damaged, but kept it in a box people often reserve for valuables, is making me think it might be a part which has been modified to turn a semi-automatic into a full automatic.
posted by jamjam at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think jamjam got it. The part that is broken off is the tip of the hammer.
The ornate edging on the two curved parts would be visible to the user when the hammer was down or cocked, and is consistent with the gun hammer identification.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:41 PM on October 20, 2013

I agree that it is part of a handgun hammer, but it looks more like a revolver part than a semi-automatic part to me. Google for revolver hammer and select images.
posted by Bruce H. at 1:50 PM on October 20, 2013

Hammer and sear for some sort of firearm, that little double notch in pic 4 is probably for half cock and full cock. Here's one in a revolver.
posted by 445supermag at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2013

My first thought is that is a part of a firearm too.
The National Firearms Museum may be able to help you identify specifically what type of gun it was part of.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:00 PM on October 20, 2013

Many World War II veterans came home with enemy firearms and subsequently had them mounted. My guess is that this was taken out of one such firearm to comply with local regulations and the removed piece was given to your grandfather by the person that did the mount.
posted by Morrigan at 5:38 PM on October 20, 2013

Response by poster: I emailed the National Firearms Museum and their response was "Whatever it is - it appears to be broken. We are uncertain if it was a firearms part at one time."

So, not very helpful. But a piece of a gun seems to make the most sense.
posted by backwords at 10:10 AM on October 21, 2013

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