(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

I went to an antique fair in Stormville, New York last weekend, and started playing around with the above object. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but when the dealer told me, it became quite clear to me just why I was so drawn to it in the first place.

Any guesses?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

It's a cheese grater!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

I concluded that only soft cheeses—think mozzarella, fontina, soft Swiss styles, and Teleme— would work in a contraption like this. The grates weren't particularly sharp, so the kinds of cheeses that could work well here would have to be limited to younger, high-moisture cheeses.

It was neat to see a super old example of an early cheese grater. But the design seemed a bit odd! And all I could imagine was a lot of mess. Anyone have insight on this grater's functionality? In what instance would something like this actually come in handy? Am I just jaded by the efficient, run-of-the-mill box grater?

Regardless of whether or not this grater makes sense today, it's interesting to imagine how it may have been used in the 50's, the decade which the dealer thought it had come from. For grilled cheese sandwiches, perhaps?

(Images: Nora Singley)