No Prizes For Guessing But Please Do

Everybody loves a guessing game don’t they?  I hope so as I’m looking for some enlightenment today.

French PressSometimes I find old things and I only have the vaguest idea of what they are but I buy them because they are beautiful or interesting or intriguing or cheap or some or all of those things.

So it was with this object I found the other day (although it wasn’t particularly cheap) and I don’t know what it is.  Can anybody help?

I know it is some sort of press but I can’t think for what.

Mystery Vintage Press


I know it’s not a press for vintage soda siphons but it was the nearest thing on hand to prop the bar up with. The slider bar moves up and down the grooved interior and the screw can push the bar down to a maxium of   25cm or 10 inches leaving a final squishing space of 23cm or 9 inches.

The nearest thing to it I have found on the internet is a press for playing cards.  Apparently, it was used by dealers in casinos when the decks of cards got a bit scrunched and the press would be used to straighten them out.  However, it was much smaller than this one and there were dividers in between the bar and the end so each card could slot in individually.

This one measures 56cm or 21.5 inches in length and 18cm or 7 inches wide.  It is 5cm or 2 inches deep.  The interior width,  inside the grooves where the object(s) would need to sit, is 12.6cm or  5 inches.

It is very well made and was obviously well used.  Somebody has seen fit to repair or reinforce the top corners at one time with metal but this has also been done well.

Antique French Wooden Press

Any comments, ideas, suggestions or, even better, answers would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. #1 by Frivolous Monsters on August 20, 2014 - 16:49

    The first thing I thought was that it looks like a library card index drawer. It’s not because of the thick spiral “bit”. Next I thought it resembles a grape wine press, for crushing grapes, but with the rest of it it’s obviously not. Then you said “it’s obviously some sort of press” and with your picture I can think of only one thing… Could you fit, say, two bottles of wine in there? Could it be a press for squeezing corks into bottles? That’s my guess.

    • #2 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:50

      My thoughts often turn to wine but, in this case, I think this would be for something that needed pressing down for some time whereas corks generally get pushed straight in. I think so anyway, I am more adept at removing them.

  2. #3 by sew2pro on August 20, 2014 - 16:54

    No help from here but you reminded me that a collector of old objects, now obsolete, had a fundraising stall at my son’s nursery and for a small fee we could have a go at guessing what the purposes of his collected objects once were. This was a lot more interesting that your usual summer fair stall but I can’t recall if I saw an object like yours…

    • #4 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:50

      What a great idea! I might try that at our next fundraiser ‘do’.

  3. #5 by Frivolous Monsters on August 20, 2014 - 17:14

    I’ve had a look on the internet and, as you say, it is very similar to Playing Card presses. I never knew such a thing existed. But it’s far too big and needs something as tall as a bottle to make it work. It just doesn’t seem very deep to be good for anything like a paper press of a dried flower press. Puzzling.

    • #6 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:52

      I am so used to finding out everything I need to know on the internet these days that, when I can’t, it’s so frustrating.

  4. #7 by itwasjudith on August 20, 2014 - 17:48


    • #8 by itwasjudith on August 20, 2014 - 18:05

      i meant something along these lines:

      • #9 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:54

        I did think about a letterpress actually but I’m not sure they usually have the screw.

  5. #10 by Jan Marriott on August 20, 2014 - 18:24

    Do you think there is a bit missing?
    Could it be for pressing something like a felt ribbon? or something to do with millinery.

    • #11 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:56

      I don’t think there’s anything missing Jan but, until I know what it is, I won’t know for sure.

  6. #12 by Pre on August 20, 2014 - 22:11

    Try posting at this site – somebody can usually identify for you:

    • #13 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:57

      Thanks Pre – I have done that and am really hoping somebody will come up with an answer.

  7. #14 by katechiconi on August 20, 2014 - 23:13

    Not a clue, although my first thought was that it might be something for shoving a cork into a bottle. But the block of wood put paid to that, and besides, it’s not quite deep enough, is it?

    • #15 by tialys on August 21, 2014 - 08:59

      No, it’s not, the bottle would stick out, a bit like the siphon does. Also, I think corks get put in with one shove and once they’re in, they’re in and don’t need continued pressure.

  8. #16 by Pre on August 21, 2014 - 18:24

    Okay, here’s my conclusion after a lot of thought and thinking back to my dad’s garage and work area. I think it’s a vise. Often you’ll see a vise (like a wagon vise) incorporated as part of a larger workbench and this one happened to be built out as a standalone piece. Likely by and for a woodworker or other craftsman.

    I tried to find some photos and examples for you and thought this might help you visualize:

    Hope this solves it!

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