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*Pic: An English cucumber straightener from the mid-nineteenth century, via the Old Garden Tools museum.

This is not what you (probably) think it is. It is, in fact, a glass cucumber straightener from the mid-nineteenth century, invented by George Stephenson, who also happened to build the first public railway line in the world.

Apparently, Stephenson grew frustrated with the crookedness of the cucumbers growing in his Tapton House gardens and had several glass cylinders made at his Newcastle steam engine factory in order to control the wayward vegetables.

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George Stephenson’s patented cucumber straightener in front of its home at the Chesterfield Museum, Derbyshire, via Tanners Yard Press.

Rumour has it that Stephenson also invented, or at least improved upon, the cucumber slicer, in his pursuit of the perfect sandwich for his afternoon tea.

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George Stephenson’s cucumber slicer, from the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield.

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Cucumber straightening glasses advertised in a mid-nineteenth century horticultural catalogue, via the Old Garden Tools museum.

*John Hawkins was born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 13 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and nearly 100 articles on the Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 75 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.

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