John Shepherd offers the unassuming item during the event that runs from November 23-26.
“It was on a trip looking for fresh stock that I discovered a 19th century iron tool in three sections which screw together,” he says, adding that it wold have been used to check the quality of straw by pushing it into the centre of a haystack.
“Pushed a few metres too far into the haystack it would, of course, disappear and then need to be found,” Shepherd adds
A dealer in folk art and unusual collector’s items, he will stand with his wife Erna at the upcoming NEC Birmingham fair. He is offering the tool for £290.
The expression ‘needle in a haystack’ can be traced back to the 16th century where it appears in the writings of Thomas More and later Miguel de Cervantes. In 2014, it inspired Italian artist Sven Sachsalber’s work of performance art, which involved his search for a sewing needle in a haystack at the Parisian gallery Palais de Tokyo. The hunt took more than 24 hours).
Shepherd is among around 200 dealers taking part in the upcoming fair where prices range from £10 to over £100,000.