Coal was one of the top energy sources during the Victorian era. In fact, during 1889, almost 82,000,000 tons of coal was produced in Pennsylvania alone. Coal was used for everything from transportation to cooking food in the home.
The ash sifter was invented to prevent the waste of coal. Remnants from a stove or furnace would be put into the ash sifter. The top has a rectangular hinged door that swings up to open. The chute leads into a grate inside the mechanism. A handle turns the grate, thereby separating ash from useable coal. The base is round so it could be put over a trash can or barrel. The unused ash would go straight into the can, and the usable coal would drop out of the back.
Look for the ash sifter in the Kitchen.