What Is This?

Ex­perts and read­ers un­cover the his­tory of some in­ter­est­ing giz­mos.

Farm & Ranch Living - - CONTENTS - DICK WENKEL St. Paul, Min­nesota

Ex­perts un­cover the his­tory and use of some mys­te­ri­ous tools.

What was the use for this?

I know it’s dairy-re­lated; I found it in an old barn. STARLINE, which was a man­u­fac­turer of dairy equip­ment, is stamped on it. The small latch is spring-loaded, and it opens to al­low some­thing to be hung from the hook.

An­swer: In 1883, Henry Fer­ris patented his hay car­rier in­ven­tion. At the time, Charles Hunt and Nathan Helm owned a hard­ware store in Har­vard, Illi­nois, and in­vited Fer­ris to move his shop into the base­ment. They be­gan sell­ing his hay car­rier and started the Hunt, Helm & Fer­ris Co. In 1931, they in­cor­po­rated and changed their business’ name to Starline. The com­pany went on to man­u­fac­ture more than 50 prod­ucts de­signed to make farm work more ef­fi­cient.

This item is half of the lock­ing mech­a­nism of the com­pany’s “Star Chain Al­ley Gate.” The sys­tem was made of heavy chains in a se­ries on ei­ther side of a quick­con­nect­ing lock mech­a­nism. Its ad­van­tage was that the chains could eas­ily be ad­justed to fit any size open­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Dan Creyts, who re­stores and col­lects an­tique dairy items in Grand Ledge, Michi­gan, this par­tial piece is worth up to $20.

In­for­ma­tion from Sandy Gar­ri­son and Joe Kenz, a cer­ti­fied per­sonal prop­erty ap­praiser, who are co-own­ers of Rhubarb Reign, an an­tiques and de­sign business.

This 1919 cat­a­log shows how the tool was used.

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