Guess what it is (and what it's for) and win a free Neatorama T-shirt! Game rules, as always, are simple: write your guess on the comment section, but post no URL links (let others play, please). First one to guess right wins the prize! Last round, by the way, closed with no winner.
Update 2/9/07: The answer:
Well tile placing apparatus, 11" diameter when expanded, 10" diameter when collapsed. Wells were lined with tile which were placed on the outside of this device and lowered down, when in place, pulling on the rope collapsed the device and it was pulled up, leaving the tile behind. Patent number 435594 shows a different tool that was used for a similar purpose.Seems like #36 by Fodder is the closest. Congrats!