This week's collaboration with What is It? Blog is this strange object - it has a very specific function. Can you guess what it is? More clues at What is It blog.
Place your guess in the comment section (post no URL, please - let others play). Two Free Neatorama T-Shirts as prizes: one for first correct guess and another one for funniest/most creative guess. Answer tomorrow (Friday).
Update 6/8/07 - The answer is:
Train order hoop, when a train wasn't scheduled to stop at a station but they needed to give the engineer new orders, they would attach them to this hoop and pass them to the train as it went by.
From this site:
Moving aboard the train at great speed, the trainman ran his arm through the hoop, pulled it out of the hand of the telegrapher, took the order, and threw the hoop down alongside the track. Injuries occurred when the telegrapher was slow to let go of the hoop. Occasionally the telegrapher was jerked down on his back. Likewise, the trainman sometimes suffered arm injuries.
The old train order hoop was replaced with the "Y" shaped train order stick. The telegrapher placed the order in a string and then threaded it around the stick. The telegrapher held the stick and the trainman took only the string with the order attached in a slip knot.
These were also used to pass mail to the train. A Y shaped order stick can be seen here.
Congrats to Chief-Ten-Bears (#4) who guessed right, and Randall (#8) for most creative answer.