35 Times Someone Asked “What Is This Thing” And The Internet Did Not Disappoint

Have you ever come across something and wondered, “What is this thing?” Well, now thanks to the internet, it is now easier than ever to identify exactly what that mysterious object is.

“What is This Thing” is an online community where you can find like-minded individuals who share this fascination. With millions of members, this subreddit is dedicated to helping each other identify mysterious objects that seem strange or unusual. Sometimes, creepy.

Take a look below to see some of the most intriguing items that people have shared in this forum. And if you want to see more, check out our previous posts here, here, and here.

1. “Landlord Found It In The Basement. Heavy Metal. Google Isn’t Responding Well To “Scary Wand” Or ‘Aggressive Pleasure Instrument'”

Answer: Soldering iron. The end you are holding is the head, and is usually copper. The other end would normally have a wood handle.

2. “A Scissors Like Device I Bought Years Ago On Flee Market”

Answer: It’s a vintage umbilical clamp. That’s why it’s shaped like a stork! Eventually this style did evolve into several types of embroidery scissors that the midwives would use while awaiting labor.

3. “Friend Received This Passed Down From His Great Great Grandfather. It’s Believed To Be From Persia & About 2,000 Years Old”

Answer: It’s a hairpin or a clothes pin/brooch. If it’s something 2000 years old, you need to see a professional at a museum/institute of archaeology to get it evaluated AND then get it insured.

4. “Metal And Glass Locket With Writing”

Answer: It’s called a “theca” and it has relics from saints in it. If it can be confirmed authentic, it’s very valuable. Each one of those relics is hundreds of dollars, each.

lisabrr’s answer:

Saint reliquary made up of bone shards that supposedly belonged to said saints.

5. “Ok, I Know It’s A Chair, But What’s With The Extended Arms?”

Answer: It looks like a plantation/planters chair. You’d put your sore swollen legs up on the arms after sitting on a horse all day, like a pregnant woman with her legs up in the same fashion. This is why the back is so sloped as well. If you sit up straight it wouldn’t be comfortable to put your legs up like that, but in a reclined position it’s good for blood flow and air flow.

6. “Found In My Backyard In East Nashville, TN”

Answer: Looks real for sure! It’s a decent fit for Hopewell type points from about 2000 years ago, but a local expert would certainly know more. If it’s found in your yard it’s definitely yours and nobody would take it if you reported it, and I’m sure your state archaeologist or archaeological society would be happy to tell you more and make a record of where you found it!

7. “Glass Bulb, Filled With Liquid, Metal Disk Floating Inside”

Answer: Fire Extinguisher. Beware contains Carbon Tetrachloride.

8. “Help Identify What These Are And What They Were Used For? Passed Down By Family – UK”

Answer: Cover plates for a book. They are generally riveted over the normal cover. Probably for one involving royalty or heraldry from the engraving.

9. “Witt: Silver-Handled Vintage/Antique Clamp Of Some Kind. ‘Beak’ Of Clamp Is Hollow – So Not Umbilical. Clamp Does Not Open Wide Because. US Quarter For Scale”

Answer: That looks like a glove stretcher. To loosen up the fingers in leather gloves.

10. “Found At A Used Book Store. All Parts Rotate And The Markings/Months Makes Me Think It Could Be For Mapping?”

Answer: An astrolabe, the ancient times GPS. Used usually for navigation, also for time measure and other science uses. I got one similar as a keyring.

If it’s too small It won’t be easy to use, by my experience.

11. “Found In A Creek Bed In Oak Hill, Texas. Has A Small Hole On Top Of The Head That Goes All The Way Through”

Answer: “Seems to be a pendent head from the Caddo tribe. Looks legit and definitely pre-columbian. There’s an oak hill Caddo site near there. Could be an import as well but unlikely.” -My Archeologist Father

12. “I Think Brass Man, Head Comes Off And Backpack Opens”

Answer: Definitely looks like tobacco paraphernalia. My father-in-law has a huge collection of tobacco jars, pipe stands, and the like, and many of them share similarities with this.

Matches would be kept in the backpack, the head used to tamp tobacco down into the pipe, and the walking stick used to clean out the pipe.

13. “It’s Made Of Really Heavy Hardwood. Unsure Of The Age Unfortunately. Given By Family Friend. Thanks”

Answer: It’s half a Viking chair

14. “I Found This Under The Floor Boards In A 1800’s Era House”

Answer: It removed the top of soft-boiled eggs.

15. “This Thing That My Friend Found In The Water”

Answer: “This is a figure of the Santerian Orisha Olokun. One hand holds a snake, the other a mask. They typically come off because these figures are kept in water 100% of the time. If you found this in the ocean, then this is more evidence towards that as Olokun is tied to the ocean. This was probably disposed of ritualistically and replaced with a new one.

16. “Antique From The 1800s, Have To Figure Out What It Is For A School Project”

Answer: Antique Soap Saver. Small scraps of soap were put in the cage and when people did dishes by hand the soap saver was swished though the dishwater to made suds

17. “Found In A Garden. Metallic Object That Closes In On Itself”

Answer: a Hindu ritual box. It is missing the middle piece that would sit in that central hole.

18. “Found Metal Detecting Outside Of An Old Church”

Answer: It looks like a Ferrotype photograph. They started being used in the 1850s’s.

19. “For Context: It’s In A Dentists Office”

Answer: A very old dental drill.

20. “Blue Glass Thing Found At Goodwill. About 5 Inches High With A Hole In Top”

Answer: That is a whale oil lamp. Hand blown glass. Very odd blue color. Not cheap

21. “My Grandfather Told Us To Not Remove This When Renovating”

Answer: Aztec calendar. Funny thing, I remember a bunch of these a while ago being smuggled over the border and they were made of meth

22. “What Is This Red Leather Devil Figure, Found In A Wooden Box In An Attic?”

Answer: It’s called a Jenny Haniver. They’re dried skates or rays modified to look like monsters.

23. “Found At An Antique Market In Wisconsin USA. About 6″ Across The Top, The Hole Is About 3.5″. Tiny Spittoon?!”

Answer: Child’s potty, a chamber pot.

24. “Found In A Garden Back In 1959, Still Haven’t Been Able To Identify What It Is”

Answer: It’s a brochure or pin featuring Napoleon.

25. “Found At Antique Festival Near Atlanta, Is 17″ By 5.5″”

Answer: It’s for rolling newspapers into a “log” for the fireplace

26. “My Grandpa Dug Up This Roman Cameo Looking Thing In His Garden In Northern Italy 12 Or So Years Ago, Any Idea What It Could Be?”

Answer: It looks exactly like the souvenir intaglios that Victorians collected on their European Grand Tours. They were very very popular and usually kept in a set and framed.

27. “Driftwood With Metal Plaque Found On The Mississippi River Bank”

Answer: Looks like a piece from a bedhead. I think the sheath of wheat is a xtian symbol about reaping what you sow and of death and renewal. Something along those lines. Wheat has been used on double (marital) beds for centuries, including the bedhead and upright posts. They’re also used on chairs in a literal or a stylised way and represent prosperity in relation to the ‘reap what you sow’ type of symbolism.

28. “Found These Glass Goggles In The Wall Of Our 100 Year Old Home”

Answer: old safety goggles with the strap missing. Possibly for brazing work on the plumbing

29.”A Fish-Like Object Found In A River”

Answer: Gobeunok or Gogok are comma-shaped or curved beads and jewels.

30. “What Is This Thing? Hanging Over Sink In A House Built In The Late 1800s”

Answer: It’s a holder for a glass. There used to be small cylindrical glasses that everyone had near their sinks to grab a sip of water. Which was an improvement from drinking out of a wooden cup from a bucket or a ladle.

Those claw holders are often in housekeeping sinks in the area where the maids worked, or by the grooms’ area.

Everyone used the same cup/glass.

31. “Found This In An Old Crumbled House, But I Have No Clue As To What It May Be! It’s From A Company Called « Rally »… Help Me On This Mission!!!”

Answer: The device is being described as a “razor hone”, i.e., something for sharpening single-edge razor blades

32. “Found In The Woods Near The Water’s Edge At My Home In Maryland On The Chesapeake Bay, The Site Of A Shipyard From 1750-1800. The Property Has Documented History Back To 1650’s. It Has Raised Decorative Images On Both Sides And Is Made Of Metal. 1 Image Also Shows A 1906 Indian Head Penny For Scale”

Answer: It’s a smallsword guard

33. “Carved Piece Purchased From An Antique Shop In Poland. What Is It And What Could It Be Carved Out Of?”

Answer: Rib bone from a whale. In the 2nd pic, you can see the soft marrow tissue inside, you wouldn’t find that inside of a tusk.

34. “I Was Given This. I Have No Idea What It Is. Metal Square Box”

Answer: Portable ashtray

35. “Strange Object From Tiffany’s Mysteriously Given To My Wife By Her Grandmother While Refusing To Say What It Was. Probably Bought In The 1930s Or 1940s. About 10cm/4” Long. All She’d Say Was “She Used It As A Young Woman But Didn’t Have Much Use For It Nowadays”. Any Ideas?”

Answer: Tree Branch Muddler


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.