What Is This Thing?

I’m not even going to try to explain how I wound up with this. But I am deeply curious about how it came to be:

It’s pretty obvious what the outer piece is and also precisely what vintage it is. Below is one that’s still hanging on the wall in Lovett Hall–note the cobwebs–but how did the one I have get off the wall? And which wall did it come from? Baker?

Here’s the back of the one I have on my desk:

Someone went to a lot of trouble to put the two things together, but I have no idea why anyone would do this. Is it just for the weirdness of an object that says both “Rice Institute” and “Rice University” on it? Is it supposed to have a use? Maybe . . . an ashtray?

Any thoughts are welcome.

Bonus: Painted over in the basement of Physics, which was completed in late 1914. Note that it’s slightly different.

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3 Responses to What Is This Thing?

  1. Jeff Coleman says:

    This is one of the earliest ways to report a fire on campus. It’s similar to a modern fire alarm pull station. They remain at Lovett and Herzstein Halls to this date but are no longer functional.

  2. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    Other devices like this I’ve seen have a hammer hanging on a chain that could be used to break the glass. This being a campus I’m sure they didn’t last very long.

  3. Terry Cloudman, Hanszen '65 says:

    The item in the center was indeed sold as an ashtray I seem to remember having one from Hanszen College

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