Need help identifying this "thing"


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My wife bought this "thing" at a garage sale. When I first looked at it, I thought it was just some artistic thing that someone made to be hung on a wall. That's exactly where it is now. Hanging on the kitchen wall. But then my engineering brain (which has a tendency to over analyze everything) kicked in. Because this thing has a wooden handle attached to it, maybe it has some kind of function. I've ruled out things like a fly swatter or a pancake turner because the overall design doesn't look like it would work very well in those scenarios. It's about 16" long and 8" wide and made of wire (with a wooden handle). Has anyone ever seen one of these or know what it might possibly be used for? I suppose I could use it as a stirring tool if I made a big pot of something. Actually it looks good right where it's at, hanging on the wall.


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Large versions (15 inches long or more) of these were used to beat rugs, hence were called 'rug beaters'. The smaller versions were made as wall decorations and used to be sold at many craft fairs; now you can find a lot of them on


My grandmother had one almost identical! It's used to beat the dust out of a carpet/rug hanging on clothes line outside! Pre-dates vacuum cleaners.


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Most of the rug beaters that I have seen were longer (2 - 2.5 feet) to give a harder whack when it hit. The wire was very solid so it would spring, but not bend after hitting the rug.


I have a number of largish throw rugs in my home. I made a rug beater about four feet long of twisted four gauge galvanized steel wire with a two-handed wood dowel handle, following the classic design.

I hang each rug using several strong spring-clamps on a tight wire rope between support points, and...carefully standing on the upwind side...knock out the dust and grit as part of Spring cleaning.

It was suggested above that rug beaters are a pre-vacuum-cleaner technology. Well, vacuum a throw rug after some time on the floor near an outside-entrance door, then hang it and beat it a bit with a large piece of clean white paper under it, and see what you collect on the paper. I'll bet you'll be surprised at how much more effective the beater is at removing grit than the vacuum is. Vacuums do a good job with loose fine dust, and that's about it.
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Wes Bucey

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As a boy in the 40s and 50s, I spent some time beating rugs up to 9' X 12' strung on the heavy duty rope strung from house to garage. Houses were not airtight back then. Many had coal fired furnaces. Dust was a common occurrence whether brought in on feet or infiltrated through air gaps in doors and window frames. Vacuums back then did not have sufficient suction power, even with a rotating beater brush, to loosen dust and dirt. Another task I recall was cleaning wallpaper with a substance very similar to Play-Doh - it worked like an art gum eraser.

As long as we're on "old-time" stuff. I also remember the various poisons (arsenic, nicotine, DDT, etc.) which were common on shelves in basements, garages, and sheds. I remember filling the Flit gun with DDT and pumping spray everywhere to kill cockroaches in the basement of my grandfather's movie theater. I must have inhaled enough mist to scare knowledgeable people, but I've since learned that the mechanism in humans was such that most was trapped in nasal and oral mucus and swallowed, most going through the digestive system without being absorbed.


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