What is this mystery bullseye?
February 23, 2021 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Discovered in an antique store in Montana, its use is eluding us.

It appears to be made out of leather, has a spot to put your hand in like a catcher's mitt, but also has a hook for hanging on a wall? Front is pierced with a bunch of mushroom shaped pegs. Halp!
posted by ikahime to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
That's a good one! If you don't have luck here please put it on /whatisthisthing subreddit on reddit because now I need to know what this is. I feel like it's a training game but for what?
posted by beccaj at 2:50 PM on February 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

if you push on the peg, does it come out the other side? like if you threw something at the mushroom side would it show the "score" on the other side if you hit one? fascinating. maybe its a macguffin.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:53 PM on February 23, 2021

I'm gonna make a guess that it's to throw rings at, but I don't KNOW.
posted by stormyteal at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Carding the wool on a woolly mammoth?
posted by dywypi at 3:17 PM on February 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

I will not kink-shame my ancestor's ye olde spanky mitt...

I'm really puzzled at the bullseye being painted on both sides, over the hand pocket, too. Be super-interested if this turns out to be a real thing.
posted by maxwelton at 3:23 PM on February 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

The thing it reminds me most of, is a punching/boxing or martial arts target. They'll typically have a glove grip, padding, and sometimes a bullseye type target.

Still, the mushrooms don't really jive with that. As stormyteal says, it could possible be something like a ring-toss game, where one person tosses the rings and the other one holds the target and sort of helps to guide the rings onto the bullseye.

Yet another thought--maybe originally, sans mushrooms, it was something like a boxing/punching target. A place like a sports bar or sport-themed restaurant acquired it as old/obsolete/antique gym equipment and then added the mushrooms and wall mount to turn it into a sort of boxing-themed hat rack or coat rack.
posted by flug at 4:02 PM on February 23, 2021

To back up the fighting/punching shield hypothesis, here is a fighting/punching shield which is vaguely similar in size and shape (minus the mushrooms).

To back up the ring-toss hypothesis, here is an Australian ring-toss game called Hookey that has a vaguely similar shape and setup. Obviously, not an exact match but it does open up the possibility that it is some kind of similar ring-toss-style bar game, with targets and points somewhat like darts or hookey.
posted by flug at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2021

The only thing I can think of is that maybe if you threw the right sized ball at the mushroom side, the ball would be caught under the mushroom tops.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:41 PM on February 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Medieval back massager? These mushrooms, do they vibrate?
posted by amanda at 7:13 PM on February 23, 2021

Each of those pegs has a different radius of curvature.

In another context, I'd think they were used to process some material, like stuff used to make rounded forms in silversmithing. (Where you would only need one of each shape.)

posted by sebastienbailard at 11:26 PM on February 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

It reminds me of a game I had that consisted of a plastic disk covered with the pointy Velcro, with a hand hold on the back, for each player. Players took turns throwing a tennis ball and trying to catch it by getting it to stick to the Velcro. Maybe it’s an old-timey version?
posted by Comet Bug at 12:26 AM on February 24, 2021

I don't think it's a game - the "bullseye" is decorative. My guess is it's a tool/mold used for some kind of craft or skill that requires all those different mushroom shapes and sizes, along the lines of @sebastienbailard's suggestion. So you just put it on the wall via hook when you aren't using it. But the fact that you can use the "mitt" to hold it means it can't require too much pressure, or it would be easier just to set it on a table. HMMM.

Please do keep us posted!!
posted by nkknkk at 5:00 AM on February 24, 2021

in sebastienbailard's link there's a mushroom just like those, and it says it's for making spoons. I'd guess the pocket isn't for a hand, but a post or something, and the mushrooms are forms used to shape thin aluminum or tin into different sized spoons.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:35 AM on February 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

> tool/mold used for some kind of craft or skill that requires all those different mushroom shapes and sizes

Hmm, it's very similar to what a pretty complete set of darning mushrooms might look like.
  • Here are many photos of different types & sizes of darning mushrooms and eggs--all pretty similar to the various mushrooms shapes and sizes on the device
  • It is notable that every mushroom on the device has a distinct shape and/or size.
  • I can't find a device such as this with many different sizes pre-mounted, but there are definitely sets of darning mushrooms sold (1, 2, 3, 4) with different sizes/shapes of mushrooms suitable for different jobs. A larger one is used for something like the shoulder of a sweater, a medium sized one for, say, a sock, a small one for a child or baby sock or maybe the finger or thumb of a mitten.
  • If you are something like a knitwear repair shop, doing numerous repairs of all different types and sized of knitted products, you would need all possible sizes of darning mushrooms/eggs, so a mounted set like this would make sense.
  • The fact that it has many different sizes, but some sizes are clearly favored and used/worn more also fits with this theory (look at the largest mushroom in the center--clearly used and polished more than most. And then the four small/thin/tall mushrooms surrounding the center are clearly worn far more than most of the others).
  • I don't know what the use of the "glove" on the back is in this case. Though if it is not a glove to be held by hand per se, but some way of mounting it on a pole or such for easy access near a repair station for knitted goods, that might make more sense.
  • If it is indeed a complete, mounted set of darning mushrooms or anything similar you might be able to verify this and find out more on various online knitting groups.

posted by flug at 10:53 PM on February 24, 2021

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