Mystery House Journal

robertk

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Just about the time I got my new Deus II, I was looking at an old map of my neighborhood and discovered that in 1940, there was a house sitting in what is now my front yard. This surprised me greatly, so I started hunting old photos and found a 1955 aerial photo, with no trace of the house. So it was there sometime before 1940 to get "on the map", but was completely vanished by 1955.

So I worked out the distances from the old map and got a good guess to where the house was, and started hunting. I quickly discovered that my entire front yard is littered with iron.

I don't know when the house was built, but I'm assuming mid to late 1800's. So far I haven't found anything with a date on it, but what little I have found seems to back up those dates.

So I'm starting this thread to post interesting things, mostly for feedback as I try to understand the history of those who were here before I was. Here's some of the stuff I've found so far. Any comments on what they are, or what they are used for, are welcome.

This was identified (thanks to this board!) as a suspender adjuster, pre-1920.
suspender_clip_front.JPG suspender_clip_back.JPG

And this one is part of a victorian bed rail attachment.
bed_rail_hardware.JPG

This one is a spoon, obviously. Silver plated, well worn. I haven't found an exact match on the pattern and I can't quite read the maker's mark, but the stuff I find that's close is in the early 1880's. Interestingly, I found this standing vertically in the ground, big end down. It took some digging to extract it.

spoon.JPG spoon_front_close.JPG spoon_back_close.JPG spoon_stamp.JPG

I've also found a few shotgun shell end caps. At first I ignored these thinking they were just trash from a careless modern hunter, but after investigating, these are from around 1900 (Union Metal Cartridge Company, "New Club" style, produced between 1891 and 1911).
caps.jpg

And some iron stuff...

horseshoes.JPG bolts_nuts.JPG insulator_front.JPG insulator_back.JPG

I've found several of those square nuts. They look like they might be blacksmith-made because while the hole diameter is pretty consistent, the size and thickness of the nut itself varies quite a bit. And that thing that looks like a telegraph insulator is a mystery -- iron wouldn't make a very good insulator.

Then there's this partial plate -- quarter inch thick and heavy. Maybe a stove part?
round_plate_front.JPG round_plate_back.JPG


And then there's this thing.
massive.JPG
It's about 8" diameter, about an inch thick, with a 1/4" "rim" around one side, totally flat on the other. And it's heavy -- weighing exactly 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs) in its current state. No obvious handle or anything to indicate use.

So there's what I know so far. I will post more as I discover it...
 

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robertk

robertk

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First bullet in o.p. or near is a heeled" bullet.
Cool! Thanks for the info. I didn't know about that style.

You have pictured an elongated flattish staple.
It looks like a tiny "log dog". Curious piece , I wonder it's use. L.o.l...
I have wondered as well. Too small for logs, unless they were really small logs, but that is what it looks like.

You're not unearthing "clinkers" from coal burning?
I don't think so. We've done some forging with coal, and the I haven't dug anything that looks like the slag pieces from that. I have dug a couple of rocks that set the detector off, but they're just little gravel-sized bits that don't look like anything in particular. I have found what looks like wood ash in various spots while digging though. Not a lot in any one area though.

Your wire thing with the smaller round end and open bigger other end might hold a bucket.
That makes a lot of sense. You're probably on to something there.

As you see ,a trip to the dump , or a trash service wasn't the deal.
Yep. I keep hoping there's a trash dump someplace (and I have an idea where one might be, but haven't had time to investigate yet).
 

WannaDig3687

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I spent what felt like forever last night digging out a particularly large stone that was sitting right on top of a bottle. All I could see was the end of the bottle, but the stone was sitting right on it, so I couldn't pry at it or otherwise get any leverage to pull it out, so I just had to dig all around it until I got it out.

View attachment 2094480

It took a long time, lots of other smaller rocks wedged in around it, and several random pieces of glass to investigate along the way, but I finally got it out. It's the biggest rock to come out of there yet, as big as the bucket I use for all the glass pieces.

View attachment 2094479

With that big rock sitting on the bottle, I knew it was not likely to be intact, despite the appearance of the end. And it wasn't. But, it was only broken a little bit (the top and a sliver in the back), and the broken pieces were right there with it, so I was able to mostly reassemble the bottle. Here it is coming out of the ground, and after cleaning and reassembling.
View attachment 2094486
View attachment 2094482 View attachment 2094483 View attachment 2094484 View attachment 2094485

The embossing reads "HAZELTINE & CO", "PISO'S CURE", and "FOR CONSUMPTION". According to what I could find, this was a quack medicine made by a company started in 1864. The company name changed to "The Piso Company" in 1894, so presumably this bottle came from between 1864 and 1894. Apparently the "cure" didn't actually remedy consumption (tuberculosis), but made you not care, because it contained opium, cannabis, chloroform, and alcohol in varying proportions depending on the year. It sold for 25 cents a bottle. There is a history of the company here (PDF) if you're curious.

I also retrieved a larger fragment that was the rest of the "R. H" fragment I found the other day. Now I can deduce that it said "DR. HARTER'S", which means this is another medicine bottle. I can't tell exactly what kind from the fragment, and he sold several formulations, including a "Wild Cherry Bitters" that was very popular. The company was in St. Louis from 1855 to 1895, then was sold and moved. More info here if you're curious.
View attachment 2094481

So, today I learned that whoever lived in the mystery house was not always in good health, and I'm guessing they had, or at least thought they had, tuberculosis at some point. I also found a small fragment the other day (that I failed to post) that had the partial words "COU" and "S" on it -- perhaps "cough syrup"? That would be consistent, but with such a small fragment I can't be sure that's what it said.

This is fun. 8-)
Now I want a Piso’s bottle! That is a very good article. The Dr. Harter’s Wild Cherry Bitters was ringing a bell. I started reading the article and it jogged my memory. A clean out of a cabinet began in search for a recent book I purchased. I don’t know where I stashed that one. Anyway, I have been hoping to find one of those bottles because of the Dayton connection. So cool that you were able to ID that fragment AND putting the Piso bottle back together!
 

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robertk

robertk

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A few more minute in the cellar, a few more bits and pieces...

A knife handle with some of the wood still attached (though it started to flake off almost immediately on recovery). Some more mason jar fragments, part of what appears to be a wine glass, some more random pottery and glass fragments, and half of a cast iron frying pan. I hoped the pan was complete when I was digging it out, but alas, it was not to be. It doesn't have any maker's marks that I can see, just a single line on the bottom.

IMG_2825.jpeg IMG_2826.jpeg

IMG_2828.jpeg IMG_2827.jpeg

And speaking of pottery fragments... here's the work in progress reconstructing the bowl. We have fragments from at least two other bowls, but this one is the most complete of all of them. Obviously we're missing the bottom (or at least if it's here we haven't identified it yet).
IMG_2830.jpeg IMG_2829.jpeg
 

WannaDig3687

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A few more minute in the cellar, a few more bits and pieces...
A knife handle with some of the wood still attached (though it started to flake off almost immediately on recovery). Some more mason jar fragments, part of what appears to be a wine glass, some more random pottery and glass fragments, and half of a cast iron frying pan. I hoped the pan was complete when I was digging it out, but alas, it was not to be. It doesn't have any maker's marks that I can see, just a single line on the bottom.

View attachment 2114975 View attachment 2114976

View attachment 2114979 View attachment 2114980

And speaking of pottery fragments... here's the work in progress reconstructing the bowl. We have fragments from at least two other bowls, but this one is the most complete of all of them. Obviously we're missing the bottom (or at least if it's here we haven't identified it yet).
View attachment 2114977 View attachment 2114978
There is something about finding a utensil. I love it!

The the crock bowl looks great! I hope you find more pieces of it.
 

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robertk

robertk

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I dug a little yesterday. Had hoped to find more pieces of pottery for the bowls we're reassembling, but I didn't find a single piece. Seems odd. So I jumped over to the cellar hole and pulled out a few more rocks and more barbed wire and rusty sheet metal bits. I did find one piece of a plate, which is interesting, but not enough to tell much about. I presume the "cracked" finish is the way it originally looked, but don't know. Here's front and back.

IMG_2889.jpeg IMG_2890.jpeg

In other news, I found some more of the bitters bottle base, and have it completely reassembled. It's just the base, but still, pretty neat.

IMG_2882.jpeg

And then there's the bowl project. We now have pieces of at least three different bowls, but only enough to partially reassemble two of them. One is pretty much complete except for the base, which I have yet to find a single piece of.

IMG_2871.jpeg IMG_2866.jpeg IMG_2865.jpeg

The other is only about half of it, also missing the base entirely.

IMG_2868.jpeg IMG_2867.jpeg IMG_2869.jpeg

We also discovered that the bowls would nest perfectly inside each other. Here's the "half" nested in the "whole" bowl -- a perfect fit.

IMG_2892.jpeg IMG_2893.jpeg

I hope we find the base and the rest of the second bowl (and without digging up the entire yard).
 

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robertk

robertk

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A while back I dug a cranky thing that I didn't know what it was.

IMG_2733.jpeg

So I posted it over on the "What is it" forum in this post. I really had no idea, at first thinking it might be part of the steering for a small wagon or something, but as I was writing the post, realized it looked like a handle crank to something. I was very happy when @ARC recognized it as possibly the handle to a coffee grinder, and even linking to one that looked similar. Here's a screenshot of that reply:
Screenshot of Safari (11-26-23, 12-53-59 PM).png

I thought that looked like a really good match. I thought about it for a while, and since that item was actually being offered for sale, I went ahead and bought it. It arrived yesterday, and I gotta say, it's a perfect match. Here is the actual coffee grinder next to the piece I dug. It looks like the exact same part to me (or would, if I cleaned off all the rust and crud from the one I dug). The length and curve of the handle match, the square top nut, even the length of the pin through the wooden handle. It's a match.

IMG_2946.jpeg


Unfortunately there are no maker marks or anything to tell me any more about the history of the grinder, but I'm still happy to have it. It's probably a bit over the top to buy it just because of a piece of 150-year-old metal junk I dug up. But somehow I think it's cool to be using a coffee grinder that's the same (or very similar) to the one used by what was probably the first European to live on what is now my property. (And yes, it still grinds coffee just fine. I made a cup with it this morning. In fact it grinds much easier than the modern manual grinder I normally use. :icon_thumright::coffee2:)
 

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robertk

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I managed to get a couple of quick walks with the coil to the ground in the past few days. All work and no play and all that...

Since time was short, I decided to go for mostly high tones or unusual sounding iron tones. It was interesting. First, a nice high tone found this brass saw nut or rivet. I didn't know what it was, but the experts on this board set me straight.

IMG_3050.jpeg IMG_3051.jpeg IMG_3052.jpeg

Then in the "interesting iron" department I found a strange finned pipe or something, what looks like a piece of a very long railroad spike, and a plow blade.

IMG_3063.jpeg

The upper right of that photo shows three little bits that I'm guessing are melted lead. They have an off-white patina, but they're definitely metal, and when scratched or broken, have a very shiny silver metal color. I presume they are actually lead, though. VDI in the lower 80's.

IMG_3064.jpeg

And last but certainly not least, this thing. This gave a very repeatable tone in both directions, with a VDI of 91, sometimes jumping up to 93. I hoped it might be a coin, but the target was just way too big. So I dug to the depth of my digger, then I went to get a trowel to dig some more, and then finally went and got a full sized shovel and dug a hole big enough to get it out. It was laying flat in the ground over a foot down. It appears to have been be a copper platter or tray. It has a rolled edge all the way around, and a very green patina. I don't see any designs, marks, or patterns. I'm hesitant to try to remove any more of the dirt (this was after washing with plain water) because it's pretty fragile. But it's a nice big platter, approximately 12" x 20" if were flattened back out, and one more clue to the life that was lived here.

IMG_3066.jpeg

It's also interesting that it was found out away from where I presume the house was, close to where I found that old clothes iron a while back.
 

releventchair

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Congrats!

One pointed item that looks a little military shovelish....Is likely much smaller. And is a replaceable cultivator blade?

The rail spike looking piece hints of wrought iron.
Lots and lots of uses in the past. And present.
But limited in strength despite the grain .
Possibly part of a fire grate. Or andirons or something domestic.
 

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robertk

robertk

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The rail spike looking piece hints of wrought iron.... Possibly part of a fire grate.
I've found so many railroad spikes that my mind automatically saw one in that piece. But now that you mention it, it really does look like one of the "arms" of a fireplace grate.
 

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robertk

robertk

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Today I went to the far corner of the property, several hundred yards from the home site, just to see if there was anything over there. Unfortunately it's close to a road on that side, so there were a lot of crushed aluminum cans (and some older cans that weren't aluminum). I did find a few things over there but all of it was modern. On the way back I found the obligatory railroad spike, so now my day is complete.

I don't think these really go with the mystery house, I think they are from later occupants or later visitors. But since it's part of the history of the same property, I'm posting it here. The only things found close to the old home site are the glasses and the railroad spike, but even those were a good hundred yards away from the home site.

Anyway, finds of the day:
Three golf balls
A rocket
A square steel washer, a round brass washer, and a rectangular aluminum washer
Two bolts, both modern hex head
A harvester tooth
A cotter pin
Three welding rods
A chainsaw tool (still usable).
Three shotshell headstamps (all modern -- possibly as early as 1915 to possibly as recent as 1972)
Two modern rifle cartridges, no identifying marks
Five bullets, all modern, at least two of them hit something.
And that snarl of wire is actually what's left of a pair of eyeglasses.

IMG_3080.jpeg IMG_3078.jpeg IMG_3079.jpeg
 

pepperj

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Today I went to the far corner of the property, several hundred yards from the home site, just to see if there was anything over there. Unfortunately it's close to a road on that side, so there were a lot of crushed aluminum cans (and some older cans that weren't aluminum). I did find a few things over there but all of it was modern. On the way back I found the obligatory railroad spike, so now my day is complete.

I don't think these really go with the mystery house, I think they are from later occupants or later visitors. But since it's part of the history of the same property, I'm posting it here. The only things found close to the old home site are the glasses and the railroad spike, but even those were a good hundred yards away from the home site.

Anyway, finds of the day:
Three golf balls
A rocket
A square steel washer, a round brass washer, and a rectangular aluminum washer
Two bolts, both modern hex head
A harvester tooth
A cotter pin
Three welding rods
A chainsaw tool (still usable).
Three shotshell headstamps (all modern -- possibly as early as 1915 to possibly as recent as 1972)
Two modern rifle cartridges, no identifying marks
Five bullets, all modern, at least two of them hit something.
And that snarl of wire is actually what's left of a pair of eyeglasses.

View attachment 2119243 View attachment 2119241 View attachment 2119242
The saw wrench is a keeper, have to admit I've dug my share of sickle blades-always sound up good.

The 3 rings around the primer on the Winchester isn't shown on the link site. Usually it's really good in getting things like that. Meaning a extra ring might define a closer date.

 

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robertk

robertk

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The 3 rings around the primer on the Winchester isn't shown on the link site. Usually it's really good in getting things like that. Meaning a extra ring might define a closer date.
Thanks for the link. You're right, I don't see an exact match. Though it's kinda hard to compare mine vs the reference photos -- theirs are so clean and sharp, Mine, it's harder to tell where the primer ends and the rings start. I did notice the
made in USA" means it's at least 1937. That's actually useful. Now I've got finds that date to the 1880's, which I think is the first settlement here. Then I have some from the 1910's, which I believe is when the local merchant owned the property. And now I have stuff from the 1930's or after, which is after the merchant had moved on. There was a house (or something) here through the late 1940's, but the land was empty by the 1950's (I have old aerial photos). Then it remained empty for decades until our house was built. So most likely those headstamps are no newer than the 1940's.

One of these days I need to go to the county records office and see if I can trace the property ownership all the way back to the original land grant. That would be interesting -- a different kind of treasure hunt. It would also give me some more names to put with these artifacts, and I could probably find some info about them too. Fun stuff.
 

sibbley

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When I bought my last house (2001), a very tiny triangle of the property about 3 square feet was actually still owned by William Penn. We had to wait an extra three months to close on the property because the court needed to attempt to find descendants of Penn. No one ever came forward and it was granted to us.

I'm having a blast searching my current property and learning about its use over the years. Since I started metal detecting in January 2023, I've found that there was a barn on my neighbor's property up to 1939, and there was a house behind my property in 1874. House was gone by the 1904 map. I even know the name of the owner of our neighborhood land from the 1850's up to the late 1930's. Once you can start adding names to items, it becomes a more personal experience.
 

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robertk

robertk

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When I bought my last house (2001), a very tiny triangle of the property about 3 square feet was actually still owned by William Penn. We had to wait an extra three months to close on the property because the court needed to attempt to find descendants of Penn. No one ever came forward and it was granted to us.
That's pretty cool! I would hunt that little piece hard!
 

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robertk

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The last couple of times I went out, I only had an hour or so to hunt, so don't have a ton to show. Plus I tried to ignore more of the stuff I knew was iron, unless it sounded unusual or interesting, so there were fewer things dug up. Still LOTS of iron signals to investigate if I get bored.

Anyway... between the two hunts, I found two more small stove doors, a brass "cap" of some kind (no threads on the inside, so I don't know what it is), several bullets, a paper .410 shotgun shell head stamp (completely paper except the primer itself). I also found one coin, but it was just a modern clad dime that someone dropped near the driveway. Still, it's a coin. Maybe more will follow. There's also a random bit of metal there that I don't know what it is -- it rang up with an ID of 22 on the Deus 2, if that means anything. It's the only thing I've dug so far with an ID in the 20's.

IMG_3121.jpeg IMG_3157.jpeg

The interesting thing about the stove doors is that both of them look like they're from the same stove as the big door that I de-rusted. They seem to have a similar design in the middle and the little fake rivets around the edge. Compare to this:

beforeafter.jpeg
So I'll drop them in the Evaporust and see what happens. It's made more interesting by the fact that the two small doors were quite far away from the big one (which was in the cellar hole). Maybe 20 yards away for one of them and maybe 50 yards for the other. Both of them far away from where I think the house was. And in the process of finding these, I've come to understand the search area is much bigger than I originally thought.

And last but not least, that mangled eyeglasses frame that I found actually looks like it was gold plated at one time. Once I rinsed the dirt off, parts of it were still a shiny gold color. They might have belonged to the early 1900's property owner --I know he had glasses, anyway.

I'm hoping the weather holds so I can sneak in some more hunting before winter really gets a grip.
 

sibbley

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The last couple of times I went out, I only had an hour or so to hunt, so don't have a ton to show. Plus I tried to ignore more of the stuff I knew was iron, unless it sounded unusual or interesting, so there were fewer things dug up. Still LOTS of iron signals to investigate if I get bored.

Anyway... between the two hunts, I found two more small stove doors, a brass "cap" of some kind (no threads on the inside, so I don't know what it is), several bullets, a paper .410 shotgun shell head stamp (completely paper except the primer itself). I also found one coin, but it was just a modern clad dime that someone dropped near the driveway. Still, it's a coin. Maybe more will follow. There's also a random bit of metal there that I don't know what it is -- it rang up with an ID of 22 on the Deus 2, if that means anything. It's the only thing I've dug so far with an ID in the 20's.

View attachment 2120015 View attachment 2120017

The interesting thing about the stove doors is that both of them look like they're from the same stove as the big door that I de-rusted. They seem to have a similar design in the middle and the little fake rivets around the edge. Compare to this:

View attachment 2120016
So I'll drop them in the Evaporust and see what happens. It's made more interesting by the fact that the two small doors were quite far away from the big one (which was in the cellar hole). Maybe 20 yards away for one of them and maybe 50 yards for the other. Both of them far away from where I think the house was. And in the process of finding these, I've come to understand the search area is much bigger than I originally thought.

And last but not least, that mangled eyeglasses frame that I found actually looks like it was gold plated at one time. Once I rinsed the dirt off, parts of it were still a shiny gold color. They might have belonged to the early 1900's property owner --I know he had glasses, anyway.

I'm hoping the weather holds so I can sneak in some more hunting before winter really gets a grip.
I really like how that door came out using the Evaporust.
 

WannaDig3687

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The last couple of times I went out, I only had an hour or so to hunt, so don't have a ton to show. Plus I tried to ignore more of the stuff I knew was iron, unless it sounded unusual or interesting, so there were fewer things dug up. Still LOTS of iron signals to investigate if I get bored.
That is the point where I am at! Ignore the rust, unless it's obviously big or I get bored and just have to dig something up!

The stove door looks great!
 

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robertk

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Remember that snarled up bunch of "wire' that I said was actually an eyeglass frame, and that it may have been gold plated?
IMG_3080.jpeg
Well I attempted to bend it back into something resembling its original shape, and I soaked it in soapy water and then brushed it. It still isn't in original shape, obviously -- the frames are not only bent but also twisted, which I'm not going to try to correct. And I don't know for sure what the original shape actually was (round, oblong, straight on top, etc). But at least now you can tell what it was, and the gold color came back, especially on the top "bar" connecting the two sides.
IMG_3311.jpeg
 

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robertk

robertk

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I managed to get a little hunt in today. Didn't find anything particularly interesting, with one tiny exception. Here's the day's haul:

IMG_3330.jpeg
There's a cultivator tooth, a piece of a horseshoe that looks like it may have been repurposed, a couple of railroad spikes or fireplace grate arms, a piece of a stove door, a few square nails (dug just to confirm that's what they were). a large spoon, a strange hooked thing, some other misc bits, and a pull tab (modern, found near the road). Many of these things were found over in the grove of small trees, where I had previously not found anything. So that's interesting in itself. Easier to hunt in there now that the vegetation has died back.

The only two unusual/interesting things are a blob of what I presume to be lead, with a completely white patina. That's the way civil war era bullets look coming out of the ground around here, but this seems small. It's 8 grams, so about 125 grains. Perhaps a fired/smashed .32 calibre pistol bullet?

Then the other thing is a tiny black "spool". Possibly a button or cufflink or something along that line? I'm not sure what metal it is. The target ID was in the low 60's, which is where I'd expect brass to show up, but this doesn't really look like brass. It's black, and brass typically tarnishes red here.

Anyway, here it is with a penny for size reference, and the piece of lead. I'll post it in the "what is it" forum as well. Maybe someone knows what it's for.
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