Can you guess what this is?

In 1940, a fourth grade teacher held this object up for her students to see and asked them to identify what it was.

Answers included a skate key, screen door hook, key ring, something dentists use, part of a sewing machine, part of a puzzle, part of a band uniform, and a milk top opener. None of these answers were correct. [Milwaukee Journal - Dec 7, 1940]

Can you guess what it is? The answer is in extended.

Answer: It's a buttonhook, used to help pull buttons through buttonholes. According to Silverdale Buttonhooks: "They were particularly useful if the fabric of the garment was tough or unyielding, as with stiff leather buttons on footwear, gloves and costume. Between the 1890's and 1920's they were necessary items. Almost everyone had his or her own button hook to use, perhaps as individual as a toothbrush today."

However, by the 1940s they had almost entirely fallen out of use.
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 09, 2013
     Category: Quizzes

But they were still around in the 40s and 50s 'cause Ah remember seeing them!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 10/09/13 at 09:08 AM
I recognized this only because of the book "Sybil." The protagonist had multiple personalities (13-16, with some overlapping). The splitting-off was a coping mechanism in response to constant abuse by Sybil's mother during her childhood. This included sexual torture with a buttonhook. As I recall, in later years the mere sight of a buttonhook was enough to make the original personality "go into hiding," at which point one of the alternate personalities would take over.
Posted by Frank on 10/09/13 at 09:26 AM
Too easy. Or maybe I am too old.
Posted by Mike Young on 10/09/13 at 01:08 PM
The word is still used in football for a "button hook pass", where the receiver runs down the field and then turns around and stops to catch the ball.
Posted by PG on 10/09/13 at 01:57 PM
Its a button hook for button up shoes! I finally knew one!!!! YAY!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 10/09/13 at 07:41 PM
I was way off, I figured it was a hook for pulling the brain out through the nose as used in ancient Egyptian embalming techniques. :D
Posted by Sebastian on 10/09/13 at 08:05 PM
I recognized it as a button hook, mostly because I remembered reading Sara Crewe as a young child, and it mentioned these.
Posted by Alassirana on 10/10/13 at 07:31 AM
I actually use one of these, a little less decorative, all the time in my work. Its difficult to do up the top buttons of shirts on those we take care of, because they won't lift their chins, so a button hook works perfectly to get it done. Imagine that.
Posted by Mortician on 10/10/13 at 09:52 AM
That's rather inconsiderate of them to just sit there stiffly while you try to help them, isn't it?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 10/10/13 at 10:11 AM
Some modern kids might say "What's a button?"
Posted by tadchem on 10/10/13 at 06:36 PM
My friend used one to button up my wedding dress. Never found out where she got it. That's how you pick a maid of honor, btw.
Posted by mir on 10/10/13 at 09:33 PM
Missed it. My guess was an Egyptian embalmer's tool for removing the brain. Although I did think it was a bit fancy.

I should finish my morning coffee, and hope I get a better outlook. Funny how it went right to the creepy.
Posted by Billy on 10/11/13 at 02:37 AM
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