Yet another "identify this mystery object" question - treen edition
January 5, 2016 7:55 PM   Subscribe

My dad found this wooden object at a market. He's quite delighted with it, and wants to know what it is. It was labeled a "treen" - which the internet tells me is a "generic name for small handmade functional household objects made of wood"- so I presume the seller didn't know what it was either. Our best guess is that it's a tool for crushing/flattening/pounding something (cracking nuts?) - but we'd love a more definitive answer. Any ideas?

It's about 34 cm (13 inches) long, 6 cm wide and 4 cm thick at the widest part. Not sure what type of wood it's made from but it feels relatively heavy for the size. The wood is smooth and we think it was probably home-made for a specific purpose rather than mass-manufactured. Holding it in my hand, it feels like it is meant to be swung to hit something. It is quite pitted and scratched on the outer side of the curve (not shown in the photo), and less worn on the inside. Reverse image search hasn't helped.
posted by une_heure_pleine to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I believe that is a spurtle, which is a stick for stirring porridge.
posted by ananci at 8:09 PM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

It looks like a potato masher to me.
posted by FallowKing at 8:13 PM on January 5, 2016

Fish club?
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:23 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Its a wooden mallet used for cleaning clothes. Used a lot in the parts of the world where laundry consists of hitting clothes with a stick against a rock. You may need to translate the website I linked to. There is a picture on this page of one in use down the bottom right. You might like to google laundry paddle, they come in a range of shapes & sizes.
posted by wwax at 8:25 PM on January 5, 2016 [10 favorites]

I don't think it's for food - a spurtle is usually flatter, and the end seems to be too irregular and worn for food use. Given the shape, especially, I agree with wwax that it's for laundry.

You might pound a heap of cloth in a river, pond or trough, and spread it on a beetle-stone or wooden battling-block, to be beaten with, or without, soap. Bats might also be used on a washing stock, a board on legs. Cylindrical baseball bat styles were used as well as the kind with a flat surface, square or a long rectangle like a cricket bat - in the UK and USA and elsewhere.

The name I have heard before is battledore. See "washing laundry wood battledore primitive" for similar GIS image examples.

Gah, and wwax already linked that, sry.
posted by gemmy at 8:58 PM on January 5, 2016

It looks like a homemade sap to me, aka a billy club, aka a stun baton, aka a stick for whomping people with.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:30 PM on January 5, 2016

Yes, my thought exactly - a truncheon. In my (very tiny) world, we'd call that a "schlager" (and rather a nice one it is, too).
posted by Rash at 10:33 PM on January 5, 2016

In mine, that would be described as a thacking stick, lart or cluebat.
posted by flabdablet at 12:10 AM on January 6, 2016

Best answer: I not only know what it is, I have one right here. It's a loodklopper that roofers use to flatten and shape the lead by pounding on it. See?
I have one here because we've recently had our roof replaced and the roofers dropped one in the shrubs and could not find it, so they left it there, and now that the shrubs lost their leaves, I found it and keep meaning to return it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:59 AM on January 6, 2016 [23 favorites]

Response by poster: Too-Ticky, I think you've got it. That looks exactly right, and we're going to show it to a Dutch friend of ours who knows his way around tools to confirm. My dad and I are very happy; the rest of the family is just glad we're going to stop talking about it now.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 2:08 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The English name for it is a bossing stick.
posted by zamboni at 3:46 AM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

The Treens are the alien enemies of British comic hero Dan Dare, and also feature in the world of Nigel Molesworth, Ronald Searle's archetypal 1950s boarding school boy.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:06 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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