Volume 12, Issue 10 of the Lee Valley Gardening Newsletter described a "grain thief" used for sampling shipments of grain. It was designed to be inserted into bulk carriers to sample grain at different depths. These tools have been made up to 8' in length. At only 18" long, the tool shown above was made solely to sample bagged product. Sometimes called a "bag trier", the tool's sharp point pierces the material and allows for a sample to be taken by having the grain fall into the long open slot. Withdrawing and then tipping up causes the sample to fall through the open handle. When we found this item, we thought it was perhaps a fid or a form of marlin spike.
What is It?
With any financial transaction, there must be a willing seller and a willing buyer who agree to an equitable figure to finalize said transaction. Along the bargaining path, there are checks and balances on both sides to establish a lasting relationship and test for accuracy and, most of all, truthfulness in the disclosure of information. Price structure can be greatly affected by inaccuracies. Within the commodities market, the bag system is used for grains and other smaller sized items sold in lesser portions by those who do not have the quantity requirement or the ability to transport massive amounts in one carrier. However, no matter the size or quantity, a fair transaction requires a reliable and traceable testing method.
The modern version of this tool is merely a rolled stainless-steel version with a conical point. The tool shown is of a four-piece construction. The tip is a solid piece brazed onto the shaft (one can see the transition and the brazing insert) and at the handle a brass ring helps retain the wooden handle that is slipped over the end. European in origin, the tool falls squarely into the "What Is It?" category given its agricultural origins. It would be found only at small producers, mills, granaries and other trans-shipment points for bagged product.
A word about the inclusions that can be found in grain: rocks, straw, rodents and insects along with mold and disease sometimes invade large shipments of bulk goods and that is why the commodity must be checked. Such contaminants are not common, as there are strict rules on both sides (seller-buyer), and generally their presence is not a planned piece of subterfuge. No grower, farmer or merchant would ever risk losing further business by allowing such an incident. Far more common during the inspection phase is finding an unacceptable level of moisture, which can render the goods useless. In such a case, they must be destroyed.
D.S. Orr has been a collector, user and student of woodworking and metalworking tools and practices for more than 40 years. Now retired, he has devoted even more time to these endeavors.
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From the Collection
This somewhat scarce style of mortise chisel was used to create a blind mortise.
With this patent, Thomas James Norris sought to improve the adjustability of a plane blade while in a plane body.