I used to be a pipe smoker and I can't imagine using such a terrifying- looking tool on one! ;-)
I also can't imagine why a fruit pitter would have what looks like blades to cut the item into segments. I've seen pitted olives, pitted plums, and even pitted dates, and they weren't segmented. Do cranberries have pits?
I didn't use any other resources. It reminded me of a ordinary pipe-reamer as used in plumbing except it's shape obviously excluded it from that context. It did occur to me that the shape of the device would allow for alternatel sized "cutters". I did a little more homework, last night but not nearly as much as you. If you found a picture of it being used, then I'd say we got it!
The owner of it sent me this photo with a ruler next to it:
As I mentioned on the site, the clearance under the blades is 2-1/4".
I agree that it's probably a kitchen tool but it doesn't make sense to me that there is a hole in the blade part, and I don't know what the wire is for. I think part of it might be missing, maybe something fits in the slot on the base. One other possibility for it is an ice crusher, can't remember if someone here already guessed that or not.
This picture clearly shows an adjustment collar that sets the maximum axial 'depth of cut'. I hadn't noticed that before.
Their appears to be a journal bearing supporting the shaft to maintain alignment, so that one hand can support the citrus and the other hand can twist and rotate the squeezer blades using the top knob.
Yes, you did say.
If it is a lime squeezer, that spring-loaded wire would automatically eject the skin as soon as the blades were retracted from the fruit.
Sounds messy. Plus the bottom support does not look stout enough to withstand the force.
What if the tool were used thusly: Screwed into a benchtop. a short reservoir is placed under the bottom support. An ice pick is driven axially into the bottom of a lime and it's top is sliced off. The lime protrusion is placed in the recess and the blade assembly is run into the fruit. Juice runs out the hole in the bottom of the lime as the blades squeeze it from the inside.
It looks like it would make a dandy lime juicer, even if it was not originally designed with that purpose in mind.
Bill! You know that making that statement is only going to ensure lewd comments. Of course you do. I get it - you sly dog you... You really enjoy those lewd comments secretly and you're trying to apply some of that reverse psychology stuff, aren't you?
I think the pick hole would clog and the rind would become a cup of juice and pulp.
Two ordinary approaches would be cheaper and quicker. A citrus squeezer is a hand-held hinged device where you put the half-fruit over a dome and mash it with a cup. A citrus juicer is a dome with ridges like longitude lines. You press the half-fruit on and twist.
The mystery device reminds me of my Foley applesauce maker, which may be a century old. It's a sort of pan designed to put atop another pan. The bottom is an upward-pointing cone of perforated steel. After all these decades, the perforations still feel sharp from the top, so it grates cooked, cut apples.
The blade looks like a blade from an outboard propeller. It pushes the soft pieces down and around against the grater. A wire whisker is also attached to the shaft. It scrapes the underside of the grater.
If the mystery item is a grater similar to my applesauce maker, it's for something grated in much smaller quantities than applesauce. The blades would be to push, grip, and turn something with a tough skin. Perhaps a springy whisker has broken off the wire piece.
I've decided it probably wasn't for grating citrus fruit. The oily outside is desirable, but I understand the pith is bitter... unless somebody wanted grated pith... to stop ants?