The Brass Easter Egg Mystery


April 3, 2013 by drandmrso

I had the great fortune of spending Easter with my mom’s side of the family. You may remember from the story about my grandma’s tenacity that this side of my family never fails to produce interesting stories during the holidays.

Easter was no exception.

Midway through the afternoon (read: we’d all had a glass of wine or two), my grandpa produced a mysterious leather pouch from out of nowhere. He told us that he found this bag in a junk drawer a little while ago and had tried to throw it away. But apparently it had landed between the plastic bag and the garbage can, because Grandma rescued it and questioned him as to what it was. From inside the little bag, he pulled a perplexing oddity:

What on Earth...

What on Earth…

A small, heavy, ovoid brass ball. It’s solid, with no markings or defects of any kind on the smooth surface. Grandpa thinks he’s had it for at least 30 years (because he’s been retired for 27 and can’t think of where it would have come from since then), but cannot remember for anything what it is or where he got it. We passed it around the room, developing truly genius theories:

Could it be a standard weight, used in scientific calculations?
Perhaps it is a ball bearing for a giant wheel…that doesn’t need spherical ball bearings…
Was it given to him as some kind of engineering award?
Is it a robotic or mechanical part of some kind? Grandpa was an engineer, so it’s plausible.
Maybe it was a souvenir from their trip to China: a tea stone that you transfer from the pot to the glass to keep tea warm. But brass?

One theory that was immediately rejected: it is most definitely not a cow magnet because it’s not magnetic. If you don’t know what a cow magnet is, read about them here. I can’t even….I just can’t even.

So help us out, readers! What the heck is this thing?

7 thoughts on “The Brass Easter Egg Mystery

  1. Andrew says:

    Oh my gosh I found one ALSO but while leaning out an estate sale and it’s driving me bonkers to what it is. Please for the love of god tell me you figured out what it is! It also came in a black leather pouch and is exactly the same item! I’m at

  2. Andrew says:


  3. Andrew says:

    At this point it’s taken on a new purpose entirely and that is, that life still has mystery and things to be discovered! I almost don’t want know 🙂 (no but seriously, I’m dying to know)

  4. Kendall says:

    We have one too! Can’t find anything online besides your post. Family memory seems to point to it being a gift from MoMA or similar in the 1970s, definitely not something like a tool but more like a special thing. Sounds like the artist Maira Kalman had one too:

    Hope you find out the answer! If I do, I’ll post here again.

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Dr. O is an otorhinolaryngology resident. Mrs. O was an English major and is easily grossed out by blood and guts. This is the blog where Mrs. O documents their adventures in (not bloody) detail. Enjoy!

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