My best guess is that it's supposed to be a chimney - you could put a candle in the bottom and it would heat the air in the cylinder, driving it up and replacing it with fresh air from the bottom, driving its own circulation. At the same time, it would heat the contents of the bulb like a retort.
But there's no fitting to attach anything to the top of the bulb, so any vapours would just be exhausted upward with the combustion products of the candle. I also don't get the point of the serpentine tube - if it were just for support, why would it be hollow and matched to an orifice in the side of the cylinder? If it's for filling the bulb, why not just use the orifice at its tip, since you can't have anything attached to that anyway? Were it straight, you could maybe use it to stick a thermometer into the bulb, but the bends in the tube prevent that.
@freemo I just found it at a secondhand shop. I can work out the purpose of lots of kinds of glassware just by examining how they're designed, but this one isn't obvious to me.
@khird So you have no idea if its for the home vs for the lab or something? my guess is its for an oil based lamp and its missing the wick
@freemo I suspect it is not lab glassware - I thought it was, initially, and that's why it caught my eye, but I can't really square that with how it's built. The oil lamp hypothesis makes some sense - but there's so much space under the bulb I tend to think it's meant to be heated from below. Might be an oil diffuser for aromatherapy or something, designed to run off a tea light - but the hollow tube seems unnecessary then. I really don't know
@freemo Looks good! I favoured the heat-from-below hypothesis at first, but I prefer your answer to mine right now. This is the sort of thing I was comparing it to.
@khird the heat from below would make more sense if the top opening was wide. But with a small wide opening it doesnt heat oil as well so id go with a burner.
Plus the design is super common.
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