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Microscope phakomètre; brass; part silvered; instrument is fixed to column by an assembly consisting of a central ball moving within split socket and two clamps
September 3, 2012 9:42 AM   Subscribe

This complicated "instrument" does not perform any useful purpose and was presumably made as a spoof.
posted by bigbigdog (34 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
It works completely perfectly in its home dimension.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


But look at all the cogs and clockwork! If steampunk has taught us anything, it's that those bits are really totally definitely essential.
posted by Jehan at 9:48 AM on September 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Note the pointless gears and ridiculous curlicues.

It's the ur-Steampunk Doodahmeter.
posted by notyou at 9:49 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


What did you expect from something labeled "fake-o-meter"?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:52 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Welcome to the uncanny valley of weird objects.
posted by roboton666 at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may be fake, but it does look like you could test lenses with it though....
posted by banished at 9:56 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


/also came to make steampunk joke.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well its purpose isn't apparent until it is installed properly in a functional TARDIS.
posted by localroger at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


For steam punk collectors this must be the holy grail, a useless instrument of metal gears created only for its looks made in the era it represents. It should inspire replicas and knock-offs, but I doubt anyone will exceed the beauty of the original. It might also be of interest to post-modernists contemplating form over function.
posted by stbalbach at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


It seems to me the photograph has been deliberately taken with the camera oriented slightly off the vertical, to obscure some some rather distasteful geometries the horizontal arm can assume. You might think it's a silly doodad now, but you won't be laughing when the stars are right.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


This also explains the Antikythera mechanism.
posted by LarryC at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh gods - the words are duplicating, it's started already!
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:00 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, no useful purpose...but where can I get one?
posted by klarck at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What did you expect from something labeled "fake-o-meter"?

Actually, it's pronounced more like "fuck-ahm-uh-tur." I was once a staffer at the National Spelling Bee, and the late Alex Cameron, the longtime pronouncer for the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee who appeared in the movie Spellbound, used to have adult spelling bees at parties that would invariably begin with the word, "phacometer," pronounced as I've described above. Then, there was that time the word "dickcissel" made it into the real Spelling Bee. I totally pity the woman who was at the press table that day. She never heard the end of it.
posted by jonp72 at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: does not perform any useful purpose and was presumably made as a spoof.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I bet this device was a vital part of a elaborate con game. The average 18th century person's understanding of science and mechanical engineering was lacking so con men could easily get away with creating sophisticated devices that could predict the future, heal the blind, detect fake money and precious metals, etc.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:26 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The average 18th century person's understanding of science and mechanical engineering was lacking

It's not just the 18th century.
posted by valkyryn at 10:27 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a coincidence: Earlier today I ran across an ebay seller who makes tacky-ass cobbled together "steampunk" shit lamps. For me, the only thing more offensive than the hideousness of those creations is that they're apparently a license to print money.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:28 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The lens on the left points toward the mirror on the right. It is a machine for studying its own workings. Looking through the lens shows you a machine studying itself, studying itself, studying itself...

Horrible knowledge, blindness and madness.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear God, jocelmeow, I wish I could unsee those. What a repellent waste of some pretty good junk shop finds. A lot of the constituent parts would have been pretty agreeable things to have around the house before he got hold of them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:47 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


(the link was meant to go to your comment. Important tip: if you mistakenly use a double quote to open an href and a single quote to close it, it will post seemingly without error but the link target will be lost.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:50 AM on September 3, 2012


This complicated "instrument" does not perform any useful purpose and was presumably made as a spoof.

What is an accordion
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 AM on September 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


The "Jones 1990" refers to Mark Jones book Fake? The Art of Deception. The book is interesting and contains info on hundreds of objects like this.

This particular note is there attributed to John Leopold of the British Museum. Its not clear how Leopold made this determination.
posted by vacapinta at 11:39 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watson called. Sherlock wants his whatchamacalit back.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:44 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


/also came to make steampunk joke...

I remember when I used to play with those on Gallifrey. You drop one of those in a room at a party and see if you can get all the alternate realities to make a steam punk joke at the same time.
posted by varion at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


steampunk'd
posted by HeroZero at 12:08 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a bad fake in that it's obviously made from pieces of other machines that do have a single defined purpose but which cannot operate in the new context. The gears and brass plate aren't just clockwork, they're most of an actual clock. (You see that a lot in steampunk too - apparently it's just too much work to get gears to actually mesh, other than by attaching a clock)
posted by anonymisc at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gizmo? Bueno estente!
posted by arcticseal at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


For steam punk collectors this must be the holy grail, a useless instrument of metal gears created only for its looks made in the era it represents

Just as two negatives multiplied together yields a positive, so too is it that a steampunk recreation of this device would necessarily be functional.
posted by zippy at 2:22 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I assumed this was going to be about That 1 Guy.
posted by Evilspork at 3:28 PM on September 3, 2012


Wow! I bet that machine would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:35 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to see the contestants on Antiques Master try to figure out what it's for. Then all of a sudden they hear "BAA-BAA-BAABAA! NOBODY KNOWS!" and Stephen Fry walks into view and tells them they've been had.
posted by BiggerJ at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2012


Sherlock Holmes built it.

You do not want to know why.
posted by cmyk at 10:50 PM on September 3, 2012


You do not want to know why.

Explains why the dog has suddenly taken a walk.
posted by arcticseal at 3:09 PM on September 4, 2012


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