Hurray! The blogosphere strikes again! Larry Moellman has solved the riddle of the rubber reel. He writes:
Here are some pictures of the reel you have on your blog. It is a neat and unusual looking reel. I think it is unused, in the box with the paperwork, and a envelope with extra rubber bands, but the rubber bands are brittle. Can't find anything about being patented.
Many thanks to Larry for sending this our way! What an awesomely weird reel.
-- Dr. Todd