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What Contraption is This?

This picture was taken around 1922. My first guess was a loudspeaker of some kind, perhaps used to address large crowds. I was wrong.  

The answer is in the full caption at Weird Universe. The gadget was found in a book called Illustrated World, published in 1922-1923. You don't see such machines much these days, because the whole idea seems futile.

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What Ladybugs said! I was banned from What Is It? and will voluntarily ban myself if this becomes a regular feature.
Mind if if I beg them to cooperate?
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