Yay! Here is this week's collaboration with What is it? blog: can you guess what this strange thing is?
No one guessed correctly in last week's game, so the prize (a Free Live! Pro Webcam by Creative) carries over to today. The webcam isn't the latest gizmo available today, but hey! It's new and it's free.
Contest rule: place your guess in the comment section, one guess per comment (but you can guess as many times as you'd like). Post no URL, please - let others play. The first person who guesses correctly will win the webcam. If you live outside of the US or Canada, however, the prize is a Neatorama T-shirt instead.
For more clues, definitely check out What is it? blog. Good luck!
Update 9/21/07 - Here's the answer:
Photographer's instantaneous flash lamp, the interesting thing about this device is that it's ignited by a match hidden in the shaft. From the patent page:
The object of this invention is to so construct a flash lamp that it may occupy but a small space and may be readily carried in the pocket loaded for instant use...
Within the stem is fitted to slide a match holder...
...the thumb is pressed to cause the match-holder to be forced inward and the head of the match to contact with a means for igniting it at a point where the spark or flame therefrom will readily ignite the powder in the bottom of the bowl.
... the flash-powder being ejected from the bowl and diffused in the outer air, the lid of the bowl being thrown open by the explosive force and the atoms of powder ignited in the air after leaving the bowl...
Patent number 611,009
Looks like no one got it again!