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What Is It? Game 140: Upon Penalty of Death!

"Upon Penalty of Death" - that sounds downright gruesome, but this week's What Is It? game, is anything but! Can you tell us what the object above is used for?

Place your guess in the comment section. One guess per comment, please, but you can enter as many as you'd like. Please post no URL or web links - doing so will forfeit your entry.

Two prizes: the first correct guess and the funniest albeit incorrect guess will win a neat item from the NeatoShop's Newly Listed stuff (anything $20 or under, please!) IMPORTANT: Please write your prize selection alongside your guess, so head over ot the NeatoShop and take a look around, mmkay? If you don't make a prize selection, then you don't get the prize. You have until the answer is revealed at the What Is It? Blog.

For more clues, check out the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update 5/28/10 - The answer is: This is a message vial from the Civil War for carrying top secret plans, text on it reads:
43rd Virginia
Partisan Ranger Battalion
Not To Be Opened By Any Soldier With
Less Than Field or Staff Commission
Upon Penalty of Death


Congratulations to attorneyadrian who got it right first, and to Jaded Unicorn for the prototype of Mad Cow plush!

This is an early prototype of the puritan rolling pin, before they remembered to reverse the lettering. They would roll out a pie crust, batch of cookies, etc, and these messages would be built right in, reminding people of important scripture, commandments, etc. This one may have been used in a jail, later, given the more secular nature of the wording.

I covet the matryoshka measuring cups.
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Is it a container for the documents outlining the UK's response to a nuclear attack? It's a longshot, but I remember reading/listening to something about that once...
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This may be a longshot, but is it a container for the UK response plans in the event of a nuclear attack? I remember reading about/listening to something like that once...
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Just looked it up, and the response plans are called the 'Letters of Last Resort' and are put on British submarines.

Those coasters that look like records are nifty. I want those.
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"penalty of death" was a popular phrase amongst the European aristocracy, and the construction suggests 18th-19th century. soooo... A cylinder for storing legally "sealed" documents or property under order of the English crown?.

I covet Lego Headlamps
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I think it's some form of explosive. When you open it, a fluid spews out and all over the room, oxidizes for a second or two, expands and then creates a large explosion.

Vegetarian - An Ancient Tribal Slang - Small
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A 19th century dildo. The words "Upon penalty of death" was a warning not to sit down while using it.

Would love a set of arrogant bastard glasses.
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