Help me identify this tool, please.

I picked up this rather strange-looking object at an antique-cum-junk store in Ellicott City, MD, a few months ago. It only cost $3, and serves no useful purpose except to amuse me.

But i still have no idea what it’s used for. It fits comfortably in one hand and can be squeezed shut like a pair of pliers, with the two sets of jaws closing and then each closed set pulling away from one another along the plane of the springs.

Anyone have any idea what it is?

It’s an old-fashioned penis enlarger :smiley:
Careful you don’t catch the skin it can be painful :eek:

I don’t know, but as someone who firmly believes that the rules of the game of life are that the winner is the person who dies with the most tools, I want one.

I’m thinking it’s a wire stripper. Try pinching it down on some insulated wire and see if it strips the insulation off.

Another vote for wire stripper. That’s the first thing that I thought when I saw it.


Thanks for the responses, both flippant and serious. My first guess, too, was something to do with wire manipulation. The only things that weighed against it were:

a) it wasn’t like any wire-stripper i’d seen before (doesn’t meana much, of course)

b) the jaws aren’t really that sharp, and nor are they semi-circular to aid in grabbing and stripping the wire all the way around.

still, i think that you’re probably right.


Could it be for manipulating springs? It reminds me of a brake-spring compressor, which squishes down the spring so you can fit it where it’s supposed to be, then slips itself out of the way.

Please, please when you do find what it is, tell us.

I have nothing more to add than, I want one too.

My guess: it’s for stretching things. It looks and sounds vaguely like a tool I’ve seen used for stretching glass pipettes. Jaws close, gripping material, and then pull away from each other, stretching. Just a WAG, though.

It almost looks like a blacksmith’s tool to yank horseshoe nails, but I don’t know. I’ve posted a link to your image on a machinists message board I go to, so hopefully one of them will come up with an answer. Might take a day or two before I get an answer.

Where is this shop located? Historic or commercial Ellicott City?

I don’t think it’s a wire stripper. It looks more like it was used for stretching or bending something that had 4 notches in it which the tongs would slide into. Notice in picture 2 that each pair connected by a spring is set to remain the same distance from the other side. In other words, they spread out as the grip is squeezed, but it appears there’s no way to pull the facing tongs away from each other. More likely it was designed to work with something that would have grooves or notches on each side which, as I said above, the tongs would slide into, then pull out once the…thing…was bent/stretched.

I don’t know the town too well, nor do i remember the name of the place, but it’s on the right-hand side of the main drag in what looks to me to be the historic part of town.

As you go down the long hill of the main street, the store is about half-way down, on the right, and has three levels with a whole bunch of interesting and often bizarre stuff.

Wow, is anyone else reminded of the television show The Liar’s Club?
You know…the one where the host pulled out this bizarre looking object and each of the celebrity guests had to explain what it was, and then the players had to choose whose explanation was the correct one.

Me? I’m gonna have to go with Tuckerfan’s explanation, so far.


I should also say, in case this helps anyone, that there are a couple of identifying marks on the tool.

On one side, on the flat section at the base of the two sets of jaws, it says: NORM-MESS.

On the other side, in the same place, it says: D.R.P.

I’ve tried plugging these terms into Google before, with no luck.

Also, having looked at it again, it really doesn’t seem to be a wire stripper. The jaws have virtually flat mouths - no sharp blade or any thing. It looks like they’re designed to grip only.

D.R.P. is a help. It probably means the tool is German.
D.R.P. stands for (among many other things, no doubt) Deutsches Reiches Patent.

With those springs, after you clamp and stretch the whatever, would it then squeeze the whatever before release?

No, not really. The springs seem designed mainly to keep tension in the tool during the stretching part of the process.

To help you further, and for those who are, like me, intrigued by this weird item, i have posted a few more close-up pics on the web. Numbers 3 and 4 show the inscriptions, and the last one gives you an idea of how flat the gripping jaws are.

What about something for holding a plane of glass while you cut it, and then sort of snap it? Originally perhaps with little rubber widgets on the ends.