Baffling Disk

In November 2007 on an American forum, an English detectorist reported that he had found a ‘round brass tag’ on a beach. He said the object had a hole on the top ‘to hang it from something’, with the words COSMOS LINE on one side and AFTER USE RE-COIL CLOCKWISE on the other. The disk baffled him, and he looked for an identification. The picture below shows what he found.

Described on the Net as a Token, Coin or Jeton

Americans scoured Mr. Google and there were several possible leads, but all incorrect. There was one long and involved explanation saying – basically – that COSMOS was a shipping line (beach connection?) and the artefact sounded like a fire hose reel tag. The original poster welcomed the explanation and thought that the item could be from a shipwreck. Not a bad explanation and conclusion, but incorrect.

Other attempts at identification were rather more fanciful.’Numista’ who should know better, said that the scope of the product was unknown and it was a ‘miscellaneous’ token definitely used on the Cosmos Line ships. Wrong on both counts, I reckon. Cosmos Shipping Ltd was established in 1993 and now has a world leading container fleet. This artefact looks older. ‘World of Coins’ said . . . doubt the item has anything to do with the shipping line of this name. Perhaps fishing line. We’re getting there!

Moving Forward

I now move forward about twelve years to a post on one of the premier hobby sites of the time, now defunct I think. The guy reported that he’d found a lot of ‘lead and assorted stuff ’ plus an unusual ‘token’ containing the words COSMOS LINE and wondered if anyone knew what it was.

Within the hour he had a positive identification. He learned that what he’d found was the remains of a vintage tool commonly used by bricklayers and builders. The COSMOS LINE was a wind-up chalk line and the disc would have been on the end to prevent it from being reeled inside – and he posted a picture of the modern equivalent. Sometimes it takes a while to identify an artefact … well done, that man!

Modern Examples

Although manufacturers had different names like HEXO – RONDO – MASON – CORDO and RAPIDO, its generic name was COSMOS LINE. Here’s a crappy picture of the Spear and Jackson modern version currently being sold on eBay.

COSMOS Chalkline seen on eBay
Modern “COSMOS” Chalk Lines. Courtesy of Spear and Jackson

13 thoughts on “Baffling Disk

    1. Research on an item was (and still is) a challenge. For me, so-called mundane finds were always the most interesting.


  1. And now I know what mt ‘chalk line’ in in reality, called, John.. Thank you for an interesting look into the problems with trying to ID an item… and overtrying.. LOL


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to admit John, I like the hunting portion of trying to identify a find……..mine or somebody else’s. Although admittedly it’s usually somebody else’s find, because I already know what a ring pull is!!

    Liked by 1 person

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