by Alethea Drexler, archives assistant
The problem with identifying unidentified objects is that it’s very difficult to research them if you don’t know what they are. It’s a little bit like asking how a word is spelled and being told to look it up in the dictionary–how does that work?
I’ve enlisted the aid of several museums of medical paraphernalia, so we may get a straight answer yet, but until then . . . the best guess I can make is that it’s an inhaler of some sort. The cotton wool could have been soaked in a volatile compound, which was then inhaled through a mouthpiece or small hose attached to the fitting on the side of the cylinder.
 Car Talk, NPR.
 Car Talk, Stump the Chumps