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can anyone identify this?

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I would say it looks like a towel rack.  What are the items dimensions?

The brackets are 18”, it would stick way out from a wall. It is heavy cast brass,not plated.

If by18: you are referring to the left to right measurement, then that would make the rack stand out from the wall approximately 7". Is that correct?

It does seem a little far, but the appearance still makes it look like a rack to hang something over.

Could be it mount upside-down and have a piece of wood seated upon the top like a shelf.  This would have the affect of creating a decorative shelf support and the rail would end up being a guard to stop items falling off the shelf?

You would have to lay it down so it is level and then put something flat in it 'shelf-like' to see if it is a viable option.  If it doesn't sit a board in it flat, level and stable, then it is not likely a shelving mount.

But here's to trying out other ideas all the same...

It measures 32” in the roped bar between the brackets and the brackets measure 18” from 4 screw holes at the base to the bar. I am inclined to agree it was a towel rack. It has no wear on the bar from anything abrasive.

I can only imagine it's a towel rail for the bathroom :)

bed spread rack?

Perhaps it's a part of one?

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