On Friday we posted a photo of this:
Commenter Patrick guessed correctly - it's a stove pipe damper!
The damper sits in the stove pipe and is opened when lighting a fire. It lets the smoke out and also allows for updraft, which helps feed the flame.
Essentially all of 97 Orchard Street's residents would have had coal stoves in their apartments. These stoves were used for heat as well as cooking and boiling water. They did not come with the apartment but had to be purchased. The residents themselves would have been responsible for carrying the stoves upstairs to their respective apartments. The heavy, cumbersome stoves were comprised of interlocking pieces that could be disassembled for easy transport and later put back together.
One of the business that operated out of 97 Orchard is the twentieth century was the stove and range repair shop of Morris and Irving Claman.
Stay tuned for another edition of "Guess the Artifact" next Friday!