Mysterious museum object identified

From our January 2013 issue

Hi Readers:

On Page 3 of the September 2012 issue of The Senior Paper, there was a mystery object from Melfort and District Museum, which we had tried unsuccessfully for a year to identify. Many readers of The Senior Paper talked about it, and we had phone calls from as far away as British Columbia, wondering if we had got an answer.

We had not, but now, thanks to the staff of Farm Collector magazine in the USA, we found out it was a hog oiler. They also sent us a picture of an old newspaper ad, which has a great picture of it and also a description.

We learned that there were dozens of companies making hog oilers at one time, in two basic styles. Some were a sort of ball that the animal rolled on an axis, the others – like ours – were upright.

Apparently because hogs have no pours in their skin (they do not sweat), their skin becomes very dry and burned if they are continuously exposed to hot dry conditions such as they would be further south when raised out in the open, and they are also susceptible to lice. The oilers address those issues, but are mostly unnecessary today where pigs are normally raised indoors.

There is no brand name in the ad in the picture, but I’ve found a book electronically which pictures several, including one that looks identical to ours and is labelled “Majestic Valveless Hog Oiler, Hartman Company, Chicago, Ill.”

The newspaper ad reads: “Valveless Hog Oiler … this hog oiler does the work the simple and easy way. Set one up in the hog lot – the hogs rub against it and the oil is applied exactly where it will do the most good.
“Surplus oil is drained to recess on top of projected leg which acts as rubbing bar for underpart of hog’s body.”

Thanks to everyone who talked it up.

– W. Alan Porter, Melfort, Sask.