If I had a thousand guesses I would never have figured this one out. It’s made by Stickley, best known for its very high quality Arts & Crafts Movement furniture. This is obviously not that, but thanks to a friendly eBay user, I was able to get the answer as to what it is and what it does. Sir Isaac (Newton) looks to have figured it out way back in 1687, with his “action, reaction” law of motion. It seems to me it should just fall over when put to use. Must be why I did so poorly in high school physics class.
If you happen to find or inherit one of these, and you haven’t yet figured out how it works, here’s how:
(Maybe I am just hopelessly incredulous, but even after watching the video, I still don’t think I would trust it with anything pricier than my Asti Spumante)