Strange Device Filled With Glass Balls Leads The Internet On Multilingual Mystery

If there's one thing the internet loves more than cats and arguing, it's solving a mystery.

And when people throughout their world put their heads together, they can keep the momentum going on a mystery for years at a time, as was the case for the hunt for the gold hidden by antique and art collector Forrest Fenn that finally ended last June after a decade of searching and puzzle solving.

But the internet also has a host of communities where you can help solve a mystery every day. And while one of its most popular doesn't search for treasure or solve a cold case, it's still very reliable at helping people out.

I'm of course talking about Reddit's r/whatisthisthing community and today, one user came to them with a doozy.

After going through an old house, a user named Daviiide discovered a container with a spout, three holes in the top, and a cluster of glass balls inside.

Although they were able to ascertain that the device was made in Genoa, Italy, they weren't able to figure out its purpose.

Nor could they understand what the inscription that read "piccaluga and margon" was supposed to mean.

But while this Reddit community is known for resolving questions remarkably quickly, they seemed to have a little trouble this time around.

Some of the early guesses suggested that Daviiide had stumbled across some sort of hookah variant but this didn't turn out to be supported by the material facts of the device.

Although some more elaborate pipes apparently use glass balls to diffuse the smoke inside, it turned out that neither air nor smoke could pass through the spout. There were also no burn marks indicating it would have been used that way.

Another user speculated that the item in question was an old smoke device used to repair motors.

Unfortunately, this didn't seem to describe the device either and those who got warmer in their search to discover what this was figured out its purpose wasn't automotive.

Part of the problem these mystery hunters faced was that the "piccaluga and margon" description wasn't as strong a lead as it may have seemed.

Since these terms didn't mean anything in Italian, they're likely supposed to be the name of the device's maker. However, a search with that information in mind still didn't yield anything.

And while one user was drawing on the knowledge that old fire extinguishing tools were vaguely grenade-like and featured glass parts, this didn't turn out to be the answer either.

During their search, one user came across a device that seemed to resemble Daviiide's find, which was identified as a "filtro depuratore dell'aria."

This translates to "air purifying filter," which brought the community a little closer to this device's true purpose. As mentioned before, however, the fact that it doesn't let air through at all makes this guess a little off the mark.

Another guess that would end up being fairly close suggested that this was used for distilling alcoholic beverages.

But while these guesses weren't quite accurate as to what this object does, they did tip off the community that it's used in wine making.

At first, one user trying to translate an Italian description of a similar device was led to believe that it was used to measure how alcoholic a given wine was.

But while this didn't turn out to be the case, it showed that the community was on the cusp of solving the mystery.

After about an hour of collective drilling down, a user named talidrow discovered what this truly is: a fermentation airlock.

As they explained, this allows the wine to ferment properly without being exposed to outside air that might ruin the process.

And since Daviiide had already mentioned that no air passes through this device, it looks like the mystery behind this thing has finally been solved.

Modern fermentation airlocks don't quite look like this one so it stands to reason that it would be so challenging to identify it as one. Well done, folks!

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